US Corportions fund Right-Wing Indian Hindu Groups

November 25, 2002

Hindutva, the Hindu supremacist ideology that has under girded much of the communal violence in India over the last several decades, has seen tremendous growth outside India over the last two decades. This report focuses on one US based organization--the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), which has systematically funded Hindutva operations in India. "The Foreign Exchange of Hate" establishes that the IDRF is not a secular and non-sectarian organization as it claims to be, but is, on the contrary, a major conduit of funds for Hindutva organizations in India

The full report can be found here .

Methodology of the Report

This report is a product of a careful study and analysis of more than 150 pieces of documentary evidence, almost three-quarters of which are those published by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (henceforth, RSS or Sangh) and its affiliates, either in printed form or electronically. These documents are diverse in nature, including forms of incorporation and tax documents filed by IDRF with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the US, articles in Sangh Sandesh, the newsletter of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, and occasional reports published by different Sangh organizations in India and the US. The remaining 25% of the documents are from secondary sources, largely drawn from: mainstream media reports, including published interviews with RSS, BJP and VHP leaders; reports of judicial enquiry commissions; reports from citizen's panels; and reports published by various Human Rights organizations. The methodological emphasis on primary sources internal to the Sangh Parivar, is to ensure that the evidentiary basis of the conclusions drawn is of the highest standards.

Report Summery

The purpose of this report is to document the links between the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), a Maryland, US based charity, and certain violent and sectarian Hindu supremacist organizations in India. The IDRF operates in the US under the rules governing tax-exempt charitable organizations. These rules prohibit such organizations from participating in political activity of the kind that involves funnelling money overseas to violent sectarian groups. Further, the report provides evidence to argue that IDRF's claim of being a non sectarian organization that funds development and relief operations in India is disingenuous at best, and that this claim is strategically designed to insert IDRF into the cultural milieu and goodwill of the Indian diaspora as the 'charity of choice'.

The main points of this study are:

* The Hindutva movement is a violent sectarian movement seeking to create a Hindu Rashtra (an ethnically 'pure' Hindu Nation) in India, in many ways similar to the Nazi idea of a pure Aryan Germany. It seeks to exclude or eliminate religious minorities such as Muslims and Christians and fix Dalits and Adivasis into an internal hierarchy of caste.

* The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, or the Sangh, literally, the National Volunteers Corps) is the core organization of the Hindutva movement, and it operates through hundreds of front organizations in both India and the US.

* From documents submitted to the US Federal government in 1989 as part of its application for tax exempt status, it is clear that from its very moment of inception, IDRF's goal was clearly to support the Sangh in India. That IDRF supports Sangh organizations in India is thus not a matter of accident but is instead the very purpose for its existence.

* Since its inception, IDRF's links with Sangh organizations in India have grown dramatically. Of the organizations in India that it lists as "sister organizations", an overwhelming number are clearly part of the Sangh's family of organizations.

* IDRF's leadership in the US has well-established links with the Hindutva movement both in India and the US. Officials of IDRF in India are also openly part of the Sangh.

* Hindutva organizations in the US do extensive publicity and fundraising for the IDRF. They openly acknowledge IDRF as a part of the Sangh.

* Of the funds that the IDRF transfers to India, almost two-thirds go to organizations that can be identified as RSS organizations. About half of the remaining funds go to organizations that can be identified as sectarian Hindu organizations. In other words, less than 20 percent of the funds sent to India by IDRF go to organizations that are not openly non-sectarian and/or affiliated with the Sangh.

* More than 50 percent of the funds disbursed by the IDRF are sent to Sangh related organizations whose primary work is religious 'conversion' and 'Hinduization' in poor and remote tribal and rural areas of India. Another sixth is given to Hindu religious organizations for purely religious use. Only about a fifth of the funds go for disaster relief and welfare-most of it because the donors specifically designated it so. However, there is considerable documentation indicating that even the relief and welfare organizations that IDRF funds, use the moneys in a sectarian way. In summary, in excess of 80 percent of IDRF's funding is allocated for work that is clearly sectarian in nature.

* Adequate documentation also exists to show that the IDRF funds organizations in at least three states in India that are directly involved in large scale violence against Muslim and Christian minorities. This reports documents the case of an the IDRF beneficiary, the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Gujarat and its extensive involvement in anti-Christian violence between 1998-2000 including the physical destruction of Christian institutions, schools, churches, colleges, and cemeteries and forcible conversions to Hinduism.

* Secondary documentation also exists to show that the same Hindutva organizations involved in the anti-Christian violence of 1998-2000 were involved in the Gujarat carnage of 2002 where, by most reliable accounts, more than 2000 people, mostly Muslims, were massacred.