Skip to main content

Diaspora groups raise eyebrows: Top US non-pofit newsroom has VHP influencer as CEO

By Our Representative 

One of the United States’ biggest nonprofit newsrooms, The Texas Tribune, has run into controversy over the appointment of Sonal Shah as the organization’s chief executive officer because of her alleged links with the Vishwa Hindu, Parishad (VHP), whom diaspora rights groups call Hindu supremacist, citing Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) categorizing it as a “religious militant organization”.
Shah, who reportedly has extensive experience in social innovation and nonprofits, will take over from Evan Smith, who was a founder of The Tribune since 2009. It is a free to read news portal with 10,000 paid subscribers and 175,000 newsletter subscribers. She will take over from Smith in January 2023.
Shah has been an active member of Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), the US counterpart of VHP, which rights groups say is one of the principal non-state actors responsible for whipping up anti-Muslim and anti-Christian hate, bigotry, and violence.
The US Department of State, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International are known to have implicated VHP in numerous incidents of “deadly” anti-minority violence in India.
Last year, VHPA invited Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati for a virtual event. Saraswati is a Hindu militant priest spearheading a pan-India campaign to commit genocide of the country’s 200 million Muslims.
During Shah's stint with VHPA, internal emails are cited to suggest, she often advised the group about its image management.
Shah has supported Ekal Vidyalaya, another VHP-led project in India, which has been accused of spreading the RSS agenda of Hindu supremacy and of promoting anti-minority hate among young children.
Shah has also volunteered for Sewa International USA (a charity group currently chaired by Ramesh Bhutada, the Vice President of Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh, the international wing of RSS in the US.) Sewa International is the foreign service wing of RSS’s Sewa Bharati India.
Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), claiming to be the nation’s largest advocacy organization for Indian American Muslims, urging The Tribune to reconsider its decision, said, her links with India’s Hindu supremacist groups are “well-doumented.”
“If her appointment is not rescinded, it will demonstrate a total disregard by The Tribune for the sentiments of the American Muslim community, especially Indian American Muslims and Indian minorities who are facing an onslaught of hate from Hindu extremist groups like VHP and RSS in India,” said IAMC executive director Rasheed Ahmed.
“The Texas Tribune’s board of directors must reconsider its decision and revisit its vetting process for candidates to be appointed for such important positions in the organization,” he added.
In 2008, Shah’s appointment to the then-US President-elect Barack Obama's transition team advisory board prompted condemnation for her “Hindu extremist links.”
Her recent appointment as Chief Commissioner of President Joe Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and later to the Advisory Council of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was also marred in controversy, prompting more than 20,000 people to sign a petition calling for her removal.

Comments

TRENDING

Corporate-political party nexus? Rise and rise of Gautam Adani under Modi regime

By Sandeep Pandey*  In last five years Rs 10,09,510 crore taken as loans by various companies from banks in India have been declared as Non Performing Assets, an euphemism for writing them off. Out of this State Bank of India alone wrote off Rs 2,04,486 crore. Only about 13% of the total written off amount was recovered. Identity of the defaulting borrowers, most of whom are influential corporates, is not revealed. Compare this to the loans taken by farmers. The names of defaulting farmers is displayed on walls in tehsil offices to shame them and some unlucky ones also land up in lock-ups there. On the contrary, a few corporate defaulters have fled the country and quite curiously the authorities didn’t seize their passports like they do with some dissenting intellectuals or activists booked under mostly false cases. Now consider the donations received by political parties in the form of electoral bonds. The identity of the donor need not be revealed even to the Election Commission or i

'Extremist' US Hindu global group funding hate against Indian Churches: NGO groups

Counterview Desk  As many as 14 civil rights and faith-based organizations in co-signing a letter to the US Senators, Representatives, State Governor, and other elected officials have demanded the FBI, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Department of Justice should investigate into Texas-based organization Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) a fundraiser campaign for demolishing churches in India. Co-signed by Federation of Indian American Christian Organization in North America (FIACONA), North American Church of God, Southern Methodist University (SMU) Human Rights Program, Amnesty International - Dallas, World Without Genocide, Center for Pluralism, Genocide Watch, The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Limitless Church, Justice for All, Hindu for Human Rights, North Texas Peace Advocates, Good Citizens of DFW, and the North Texas Islamic Council, the letter has been sent to Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; Representatives Michael C Burgess, Pat Fallon, Van Taylor, Terr

Carbon abatement to tackle climate change: India's failure has 'outpaced' its success

By Satorupa Karmakar*  On November 01, 2021, India took a pledge of reaching a carbon-zero stage by 2070, at the COP-26 held in Glasgow, UK. As ‘ambitious’ and dubious it may sound to some, with a short-term delay in renewable energy generation (which gained the pace post-September 2020) and drastic fall in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission level as COVID-19 emerged as a ‘necessary evil’ , the path of India’s clean energy mission could be seen being paved throughout this time. Currently ranked as the third largest GHG emitter in the world, India is projected to demand more energy in coming years due to a large population base (1.3 billion as per 2011 Census data) and primarily coal-based fast-growing economy. Rapid industrialisation in post-colonial developing countries like India, stimulated by a larger and cheaper pool of fossil fuels and labour-force depicted a continuous upsurge in temperature, heavy precipitation in some places with an overall declining rainfall and a burgeoning soc

BJP-RSS trap opposition in 'futile row' around Savarkar, freedom movement

By Prem Singh*  Everything in this article is just a repetition. I have been saying all this since 1991-92. It is obvious that the Congress and the RSS/BJP do not like my ideas. But most socialists, advocates of social justice and communists also dislike my thoughts. I watch their measures and efforts to deal with the present crisis with interest. I respect them and also participate. Yet, the fact it, we fall behind again and again, and the crisis goes ahead. Instead of being a solution-providers, we are seen to be a part of the crisis. How long will this last? Perhaps, if the new generation thinks differently, things may turn for better! 1 To say that modern Indian society and politics are passing through the deepest crisis ever will surely be a repetition. The crisis is deeper than the spreading of communal hatred we witness around us. In fact, the business of communal hatred is flourishing by taking its manure and water from the deep crisis. The crisis of neo-colonial slavery is pro

Demand to withdraw 'anti-environment, anti-adivasi' forest conservation rules 2022

By Gopinath Majhi*  The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, a coalition of adivasis and forest dwellers’ organisations, has sent a memorandum to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) raising serious concerns over Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, notified by the Centre on June 29.  Contending that recent amendments and a host of executive orders/guidelines issued by the ministry undermine and dilute the FRA and threaten the rights of adivasis and forest dwellers, CSD demands that the 2022 FC Rules should be rescinded forthwith. Demanding withdrawal of such anti-people and anti-environment rules CSD Odisha organised a protest Dharana in front of State Assembly today on 25th November 2022 and submitted memorandums to the Hon’ble Governor of Odisha, Chief Secretary and Commissioner-cum-Secretary, ST & SC Development Department for conveying our concerns against the FC Rules 2022 to the Central Government for its withdrawal. The memorandums w

'Unprecedented rise' of attacks on students of Delhi university by ABVP condemned

Counterview Desk  A statement, sent as an email alert by "concerned teachers and students of Delhi University", referring to a protest organised against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad's (ABVP's), has alleged “brutal” attack on students and teachers demanding the release of civil rights leader Prof GN Saibaba and others from “unjust incarceration.” “We are seeing an unprecedented rise of attacks on the students of our university by the fascist ABVP goons. Almost every week we see our fellow students and activists getting attacked physically by the lackeys of this current Brahmanical Hindutva fascist regime”, the statement claimed. Text : A joint protest was organised by the students and teachers of Delhi University on 2nd of December against the brutal attack by ABVP goons. On 1st of December, activists of Bhagat Singh Chatra Ekta Manch (bsCEM), Lawyers Against Atrocities (LAA) and many other organisations as a part of Campaign Against State Repression (CASR),

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w

Muslims, Dalits off Bangladesh border 'don't have acess to' water, power, farmland

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, civil rights group Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), in a letter to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, has revealed how, even after 75 years of Independence, Muslims and Dalits living next to the India-Bangladesh border do not have access to electricity, drinking water, even to their own land. Stating that the “horrible situation” has due to “illegal restriction on the agricultural activities” imposed by the Border Security Force (BSF), plunging “farmers and their families into deeper poverty”, the letter, referring to the plight of 1,200 people reside in the Changmari village, states, There are about 200 acres of cultivable lands out of 3,500 acres is situated beyond the border fence. “The ingress and egress of the farmers to their own agricultural land through the fencing gates are regulated by the BSF. The soil and climate of this region is very suitable for jute and maize cultivation”, it adds. Text: This letter is

Climate change 'can't be fought' with fancy issues: re-engineering cities, green energy

By Shankar Sharma*  "The Hindu" has carried a discussion paper in the form of an interview, Can poor countries afford to go green? Many such articles/ opinion pieces are making the grievous mistake of ignoring a fundamental question: what is the true cost of climate change (CC), and can poor countries, or for that matter any community, afford not to do all that is feasible to address the threats of  CC; instead of wasting our time and resources in endlessly deliberating on the so called "financial/economic costs" of the much needed transition. Such articles seem to focus only on high profile / glamorous/ debatable stuff, and ignore the basic issues which we all can do something or the other to minimise the impacts of CC in the short-term, and which may probably lead to long term solution. The opinion pieces/ discussion, as above, are guilty of conveniently ignoring the basic question: what is the fundamental cause of CC? The answer should be: the unsustainable dema

Enemies of elephants: Odisha real estate agents, ivory smugglers, mining contractors

By Sudhansu R Das  Over centuries the elephant in Odisha has been closely associated with its economy, culture and politics. The state was known for its mighty elephant army which repelled enemy attacks until the end of the 16th century AD. The kings of Odisha were known as Gajapati for their skill and ability to use elephants in the battlefield. Some historians said Odisha had 18,000 war elephants. In the olden time, Odisha had exported fine ivory work to foreign countries. The ancient temple walls have the carvings of an elephant army and the scene of elephants boarded on traditional boita (ship) for transportation. Today the elephants in Odisha are at the receiving end; they are being hunted, poisoned and poached for their tusks. They are branded as trespassers, destroyers of crops and human life; the media paints the situation as human-animal conflict and the debate to show concern for the elephant’s protection has become a meaningless endeavor. The state needs a development vision