South Asia citizen’s web has published a report ‘Hindu Nationalism in the United States: A Report on Nonprofit Groups’. It is the same group which published the report ‘The foreign exchange of hate: IDRF and the American funding of Hindutva’ in 2002. But there is a big difference in 2002 and 2014. In last few years, a vast data has become available about foreign funding of Christian and Muslim organizations as well as the so-called secular crusaders organizations including the SABRANG of Teesta Setalvad, the co-author of the 2002 report.
As a consequence, the latest report of SACW actually helps to highlight that the Hindu nationalist organizations receive very negligible foreign funding as compared to Christian or Muslim or Secular NGOs and their utilization of that funding is much better and justified.
The two SACW reports: the difference
Perhaps the SACW is aware of it. That is why there is some difference between the 2002 and 2014 report. The title of the 2002 report is provocative, ‘The foreign exchange of hate’ while the title of 2014 report is somewhat neutral. The 2002 report was published with much fanfare in Delhi on 20 November 2002 and was simultaneously published by a number of leftist, pan-Islamist and Christian-fundamentalists websites around the world. This time it is silently published on the website of SACW on 1 July and has not been circulated around with euphoria. The co-author of last report, SABRANG Communications has been dropped and the report is prepared by one ‘J.M.’.
But three assertions remain common in both reports. One is that the Hindutva movement receives huge foreign funding, second is that as a ‘parivar’ they are connected and third is that Hindutva movement is violent. The reports certify themselves to be scholarly but actually they are just compilations of three sources, the published documents of various Hindu organizations, the tax documents filed by some organizations with the internal revenue service in USA and some press clippings.
Newsbharati compares and analyzes the three points for the viewers to draw their own conclusions.
The foreign funding of ‘Hindu nationalist’ parivar
The latest report claims “From 2001 and 2012, five Sangh-affiliated charitable groups (India Development and Relief Fund, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of America, Param Shakti Peeth, Sewa International, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America) allocated over 55 million dollars to their program services, funds which are largely sent to groups in India.” The 2002 report mentions total funding of another 3.2 million dollars in the period from 1994 to 2001. The total is about 58 million dollars [even if we discount the one year overlap] which is about 300 Crore Rs. with current dollar rupee ratio. [The actual amount will be less because of the fluctuations in dollar rupee rate.] This comes to about 15 Crore Rs. Per year. The 2002 report mentions that it was distributed in 144 various organisations. The 2014 report gathers information about 5 donor organisations, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation USA, Vishwa Hindu Parishad USA, IDRF, sewa international USA and Param Shakti Adi peeth [an NGO associated with Sadhvi Ritambhara] . Almost half of these funds [49%, according to 2014 report] have gone to ‘Ekal Vidyalayas’ [single teacher schools.] The Ekal foundation of India currently runs about 50,000 schools with about 15 lakh [1.5 million] students attending.
To know whether these are huge amounts, or whether ‘Hindu nationalist’ organisations receive disproportionately high amounts, we can compare this data with Christian organisations and Muslim organisations foreign funds, or with the funds of SABRANG and other NGOs run by Teesta Setalvad, the co-author of 2002 report.
Christian foreign funds
The ‘Cross Purposes’ is a study published by India policy foundation, Delhi entirely based on the FCRA [Foreign contribution regulation act] data given on the Home Ministries website.The study shows that in the period of just six years 2006 to 2011, 1134 Christian organisations received 16214 Crore Rs. as foreign donations. This is 50 times more than the entire sum received by ‘Hindu nationalist’ forces in the span of 20 years.The top 20 recipient Christian organisations received more than 100 Crore Rs. each in this period, i. e. about 16 Crore Rs. per year, which is greater than the total amount of 15 Crore Rs. per year distributed between about 150 ‘Hindu nationalist’ organisations as claimed by SACW report.
Muslim foreign funds
One single organisation, ‘The Indian Muslim relief and charities USA’, in last three years disbursed 10 million dollars, i. e. about 60 Crore Rs. in India. There work included not only social service, but conversion activities, building Madarssas, giving Kurbanis [killing animals for meat] and distributing the meat in poor Muslims. The 2011 report states
“Project REED has been in the making since 2009 when during a visit to India we were notified of a spreading trend – Muslim communities were leaving Islam by entire villages. Immediately we went onsite to visit the local people to assess the situation. It was not only true, but sad to see that as Muslims we neglected a population that needed us and we weren’t there to help them. In 57 villages, approximately 3,700 people were surveyed to have left Islam. IMRC knew they had to do something. It wasn’t a choice to sit back and watch this continue. Thus, Project REED launched in 2009 focusing on assisting rural villages by providing these communities with education in an Islamic setting. This program builds a madrasa in a rural village and provides imams/teachers, libraries, daily activities and Quran distribution.”
“Each location has a prayer hall, washrooms, a living quarter for an imam and a classroom. The madrasas holds daily prayers, Quran lessons and other daily activities to bring a sense of community to the local area. This project also has a training program for imams and teachers. This way qualified instructors are assigned to each madrasa so the entire community can benefit.”
“With each location, we continue to provide activities and services based on the needs of the area. For example, during Ramadan we distributed food packages and Qurbani meat in time for Eid ul Adha; a literature & Quran program has begun too where children and families receive Quran lessons as well as their own copy of the Quran in their native language. At each location, an imam is assigned and supported with an annual salary of approximately $1000/year and $1000 is needed for maintenance.”
In last three years, under the project REED, IMRC has built total 72 Madarssas, mostly in costal Adhra Pradesh. The annual report of 2012 mentions
“Rural communities are now taking pride in their local masjid/school and inviting their local non-Muslim neighbours too for daily activities.”
The annual foreign funds of IMRC are about 20 Crore Rs., which is greater than the total amount of 15 Crore Rs. per year distributed between about 150 ‘Hindu nationalist’ organisations as claimed by SACW report.
Offer is another NGO under FCRA with address at 19/1385, East Kallai, Kozhikode, Kerala. Although it claims to be a social organisation, in the entire period of 2007 to 2013, offer receives foreign donations from only two organisations, Muslim Aid and Islamic world relief, both from UK. In this period, offer received 46 Crore Rs. as foreign donations from these two organisations. The funny thing is that an NGO receiving such huge donations has left no trace on Internet about its activity.
Foreign funds of Sabrang and Citizens for Justice and Peace
These are the two NGOs of Teesta Setalvad receiving foreign funds under FCRA. Sabrang trust is a different entity than Sabrang communications pvt. Ltd. Company, but they are intimately connected. According to FCRA data in the period from 2008 to 2013 the total amount received by these two NGOs is 2.29 Crore Rs. [1.36 Crore By Sabrang and 93 lakhs by CJP]
Spending on ‘parivar’ and family
The SACW report alleges that the donations go to various organizations which are linked as ‘Sangh parivar’ [family] which is at best an ideological connection.
Teesta does better than that; she spends the amounts on her actual family, in a perfectly legal way! According to the affidavits filed by her in Sessions Court of Ahmedabad in March 2014, this is how she spends the amount from the two Trusts where she is either a managing trustee or holds key position and her husband as well as family members are also trustees. [We are quoting from her own affidavits only, as she alleges biased action from Gujarat state.]
“Between 1.1.2010 to 14.2.2014 I, Teesta Setalvad, received on an average about Rs.16,000 per month towards honorarium from Citizens for Justice and Peace. This payment came out of the CJP’s funds received from the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT).”
The sum up of the payments she and her family received which she mentions in various parts of her affidavit is as follows
A total of 1,78,000 Rs. per month is given to Teesta and her family under various heads from the two trusts. In response to the allegation that Teesta Setalvad received a total of Rs 21,63,762 over a period of 45 months, she says "This works out to an average remuneration (salary plus reimbursement of medicalexpenses) of around Rs 48,000 p.m. over a period of 45 months." It is certainly a novel idea for any trust to pay an ‘average honorarium’ than a fixed amount! Or is it an accounting jugglery just to justify the transactions?
The address of all the three entities namely Sabrang trust, Citizens for Justice and Peace, and Sabrang communications pvt. Ltd. is one and the same. It is also the residence of Teesta, namely
Nirant, Juhu Tara road, Juhu, Mumbai, Maharashtra – 400049.
Therefore the trustee of these two trusts, Teesta Setalvad gives monthly about 1 lakh Rs. to the owner of company Sabrang communications which is again Teesta, and the company must be giving the rent of the office to the owner of the residence which is again Teesta!
The charge of violence
The 2002 report begins with emphatic declaration that foreign funding of “Hindutva, the Hindu Supremacist ideology that has under girded much of the communal violence in India over the last several decades” is the subject of study. The 2014 report asserts “Hindu nationalism has intensified and multiplied forms of discrimination, exclusion, and gendered and sexualized violence against Muslims, Christians, other minorities, and those who oppose Sangh violations, as documented by Indian citizens and international tribunals, fact-finding groups, international human rights organizations, and U.S. governmental bodies.”
It takes a certain type of courage to keep on making accusations which were not proved in any Court in last 80-90 years! Besides, after Gujarat, there were two major violent riots in which Muslims had to suffer. One was in Assam, the other was in Uttar Pradesh. Both have left thousands of people displaced. In both cases neither anybody has gone for the jugular of Chief Ministers of these states, nor were ‘Hindu nationalist’ organisations blamed hoarsely. There is a growing realization that these stereotype reactions will not help solve the issues.
But perhaps a different intelligence is required to notice that with large amount of data now available to any citizen on the internet and active netizens now commenting and twitting on news in a large number, the days of bluffing with selective information are over.