Statement on Saffronwash: The RSS and American Funds

The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate’s report (“A Foreign Exchange of Hate: IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva”) raised the ire of Yankee Hindutva because it comprehensively exposed one of its main funding organisations in the US, the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF). The report made two substantial claims: that 83 percent of the money IDRF sends to India from the United States go toward Hindutva organizations, and that it raises these monies with the claim to being non-sectarian when in fact it finances groups that routinely discriminate against those who do not fit its definition of “Indian.”

After months of calumny against those who wrote and supported the report, the Yankee Hindutvawadis respond with “A Factual Response to the Hate Attack on the India Development and Relief Fund.” Generous in length, but quite stingy in depth, the response establishes that the IDRF is indeed unapologetically close to the RSS, indeed that in its view the RSS does “good work” with the American funds. However, the “Response” fails to address the central ethical question of IDRF practice: Does it tell those from whom it raises money that it is ideologically close to the RSS, and that most of its money goes to RSS entrusted groups?

IDRF Funds the RSS Agenda:

The “Response” in two places says that the IDRF’s main persona, Dr. Vinod Prakash, “has an ideological kinship with the RSS.” Furthermore, the “Response” makes it quite plain that there is no need to be chary about the RSS-IDRF link, because the RSS, in its words, does “good work.”
Whereas previously the IDRF tried to distance itself from the RSS, now it seems it is proud of the connection and admits one of the crucial points made by “A Foreign Exchange of Hate”: that the IDRF is awash in Hindutva. On the face of it, people are free to give their money to fund hate if this is what they want to do, but then the organisation that raises the money must be open about its agenda. The IDRF claims to provide


funds for “development” and “relief” for “India,” and most of those who send it money expect it to do just that. It turns out, by its own admission, that it funds those groups that linger on the fringes of the Right, service organisations blessed or else entrusted by the RSS to do its type of work. The IDRF funds the RSS agenda, so that much is now clear.

The Ethics of Fund-Raising.

The IDRF has consistently denied its relationship with the RSS. On 22 July 2002, Vinod Prakash told the press, “The IDRF has given absolutely no money to the RSS,” and IDRF’s Nagraj Patil said, “There is no relation between the VHP/RSS and the IDRF.”

And yet, the “Response” now accepts that there is such a relationship.

The IDRF raises money on false pretenses, claiming that it is for the development of India when in fact it is for the furtherance of Hindutva. The IDRF says that it raises money to do charitable work in India, and so it gets US government permission to raise funds, but it turns out that it directs those funds to pro-Hindutva organisations, entrusted by the RSS, who sully the body politic, conduct communal pogroms and destabilise the social life of India. The IDRF is registered in the United States as a 501(c) (3), in other words, as a non-profit, non-electoral and non-religious organisation. IDRF raises money with the claim that it is non-sectarian when it is plain that it has a kin relationship with the RSS and with Hindutva – plainly sectarian outfits, with the RSS being the Hindutva Hezbollah.

IDRF funds do go toward “development” and “relief,” but its form of development is not the agenda set forth in the Constitution of India, but by Hindutva. By not being forthright with the US Government and with those who give it money, IDRF violates the fundamental ethical norm of non-profit, charity organisations: transparency. Garv se kaho: hum Hindutvawadi hai!