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  Analysis: Mathew's Baseless Report on IDRF  
 

 

 

By:Gopal Alankar USA
February 26, 2003

Abstract

The report "The Foreign Exchange of Hate, IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva" prepared by Sabrang publications of Mumbai, India is ill intended. A critical review of this report finds no foundation to accuse India Development Relief Fund (IDRF) of any wrong doings. There is no convincing evidence in it to prove that IDRF funds hate or is structurally bonded with RSS to encourage hate. It does not either attempt to prove that IDRF, on a stand-alone basis, is a violent sectarian organization. This is understandable because IDRF is an American organization and such an allegation will require from American law enforcement agencies, evidence, which does not exist.

The report has the symptoms of Hindu bashing. Although it agrees that close to 30% (including unknown category) of IDRF funding is secular and the relief work carried out by it for Muslim victims of Hajj fire tragedy is non-sectarian, it calls these benevolent acts as evil designs for gaining political mileage for BJP. It reverberates with a cry for more funds for Christian and Muslim organizations irrespective of their demographic representation in the society and their refusal to participate in IDRF donations. It precludes other religious minorities in the discussion and portrays that only Muslims and Christians are the true religious minorities in India. It circumvents the logic with arguments that while funding Hindu organizations encourages Hindu violence against Christians and Muslims, but it does not mean the same if it funds Muslim or Christian organizations. Such funding it maintains is secular. One sinister purpose of the report is to paint Hindutva, an ideology of Hindus, as a violent concept similar to Nazi idea of pure Germany and then make a clandestine case for stopping Hindu immigration to the USA. Why talk about Hindutva - a faith such as Christianity that has nothing to do with IDRF operations?

The report is crammed with irrelevant discussions of RSS, Hindutva, Bajrangdal, VHP, re-conversions, Gujarat riots, etc. despite the fact that these have no links with IDRF. The report agrees that RSS does not accept foreign funding but laboriously tries to convince the reader that it is linked to IDRF through indirect association. One would suspect that large amount of irrelevant information was included to trick and convince the American corporate executives who are largely Christians by faith that IDRF is in collusion with anti-Christian organizations.

Discussion

In the following discussion the report is logically analyzed, critiqued and substantiated to bring home the above observations. The findings of the analysis are documented herein to serve as guidelines to unbiased readers and help them judge whether Sabrabgís report is scrupulous or unscrupulous.

I presume that Biju Mathew who is an Assistant Professor of Business at Rider University, New Jersey, holds the ownership of the Sabrang's report. For the purpose of the discussion herein, I'll refer to it as Mathew's report. My advice to any reader of Mathew's report is one of caution. The reader should be aware of the fact that every thing in a report is not Gospel Truth. The majority of reports in the present day world are finagled to achieve a desired unscrupulous result, more so if it is contracted out. The consultant cooks the data, falsifies the facts, twists the truth, includes misinformation and correlates irrelevant data to bring about the desired result for a hefty price. This process in the Ph.D. student lingo is known as "adding masaala". The report uses jazzy words, visual aids, pie charts and structured charts to impress upon and implant in an unsuspecting reader's mind a false sense of authenticity. Anderson's report for Enron is a living example. It is needless to say that Anderson's report brought the downfall of a very good company.

I read Mathew's report, all 88 pages. I must confess that it does have some reliable data. The bad news is that rest of it is cooked-up. A large percentage of the information in it is irrelevant to the case. It has the likes of Anderson's report.

Modus Operandi of a Not-for-profit Organization

A reader not knowledgeable with the modus operandi of a not-for-profit organization will find the report very confusing and he/she is prone to make a wrong judgement. Therefore, it will serve well to talk about the modus operandi of a model not-for-profit organization up front and use that model for analyzing IDRF operations.

United Way of Rochester (UWR) is a role model for not-for-profit organizations. It supports some 300 programs, some of which are:

  • Christian Nursery Schools
  • Catholic Family Center
  • YMCAs
  • Jewish Community Center
  • Jewish Family Service Center
  • Jewish Home

The support of UWR to these programs should not be construed as anti-secular or sectarian. I contributed to UWR year after year knowing that there was not a single Indian organization on their list of funded organizations and knowing that my contributions were destined to go to support Christian and Jewish family programs. Then why make a contribution? Because need-based funding should be the prime criteria for extending humanitarian help. However, a donor can specify his donation to go to one or more of the funded agencies in the UWR list. Should the donor exercise this option, there is nothing that UWR can do to prevent the money going to the specified agencies. By the same token, IDRF can not dishonor its donorís choice. If the choice, for example, is Ekal Vidyalaya, thatís where the money will go provided it does not exceed the limit set by IDRF.

United Way maintains a list of agencies that it funds and evaluates these agencies periodically to see if they still qualify for funding. It also evaluates new requests for funding. Based on this evaluation some may be dropped and others may be added to the list. It may be noted that no agency outside the list will be funded. United Way will not go around looking for agencies that deserve funding. The agencies must put in an application for funding. This also applies to IDRF. IDRF will not go around looking for a Christian or Muslim organization that deserve IDRF funding.

Of late, the Catholic Church is rocked in sex scandals. Specific to Indian Church, on February 5, 2003 Reverend Francis Nelson a Roman Catholic priest from India working in New York was found guilty of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl at her home. UWR can not and should not use this information and the association of Catholic Family Center with Catholic Church to remove Catholic Family Center from its funded agencies. Similarly, one can not accuse UWR as funding violence because one of its funded agencies is alleged to have ties to a suspected violent organization. In general, association or relationship of a funded agency with another organization A should not be used to establish guilt that UWR has the similar intent as organization A. Assuming RSS is a violent organization and drawing inference that IDRF is funding violence because one of its funded agencies is alleged to have association with RSS is illogical. It is possible though that IDRF could use this information for delisting the agency but only after the allegation is found to be true. For the purpose of this discussion, Iíll call this as an indirect association. Remember that indirect association will be used quite often in this discussion.

A reader should evaluate Mathew's report in the light of the above operational parameters for a not-for-profit organization. Sentimental judgement should be avoided.

What Content in the Report is useful?

  1. The report is padded with 56 pages of Appendices that are repetitive in nature and mostly irrelevant to the accusation. Appendix E (IDRF Relief Efforts) and Appendix H (Money trail) have some useful information that can be used for IDRF analysis.
  2. The first section consists of three pages and it discusses the format. The important information in this section is "Summary of Findings." Does it list any findings and references to the findings? This section is a must for every reader.
  3. The second section is 6 pages long. It is exclusively devoted to project RSS as a violent organization. It does not provide convincing evidence to brand it so. It has no material that links it with IDRF. This is an irrelevant section since no links to IDRF have been established.
  4. Section 3 and 4 are quite important from the standpoint of determining whether IDRF funds hate. These two sections together makeup 15 pages that provide useful content for the analysis. The rest of the report is nonessential and garbage.

What are the glitches in the report?

  1. The report is intended for American audience. It does not adhere to the format used in America. It does not have a foreword to identify the preparer and his background. This foreword should also identify the owners and their backgrounds. If they have communist links, it must be so stated. This information is essential to establish the credibility of the report in the eyes of the readers and specifically in the eyes of the American corporations that provide the matching funds.
  2. The title of the report and the thrust of the report are far apart. Does "American Funding of Hindutva" mean "American Funding of Hate/violence?" There is no credible discussion to link these two together. Hindutva is a dharma and it espouses religious tolerance. The report alleges that Hindutva is similar to the Nazi idea of a pure Aryan Germany [page 2]. But there is no evidence to equate the two. It also alleges that Hindutva girded much of the communal violence in India over the last several decades [page 1]. But it laboriously tries to document one such anti-Christian violence in four years 1998-2002 [page 3]. It altogether avoided the references to these anti-Christian attacks stemming from sexual abuse of local girls by the Christians and Christian priests. The report on page 18 states "one can argue that IDRF funds do not necessarily aid and abet Hindutva's anti-minority programs." But then why drag IDRF into anti-Christian debate. Hinduism is inherently a tolerant and peaceful religion. The growth and prosperity of religious minorities in India for centuries is attributed to this tolerance. Hinduism can never be anti-religious.
  3. The "summary findings" on page 2 makes no sense. It documents the purpose and study points of the report. No where does it document the findings. By default the report proves nothing.
  4. The report references press reports and reportersí opinions. Newspaper reports are highly opinionated and are inadmissible as evidence. More often than not they are politically motivated. Kuldip Nayar is a known anti-Hindu basher and his comments on Gujarat Earthquake are biased. Nevertheless, does not his statement that some areas where Muslims live were left out for rehabilitation [see p67] mean that many remaining areas were rehabilitated?
  5. The report projects religious minorities as Christians and Muslims and tries to convince that IDRFís support to these minorities alone classifies it as secular or non-sectarian. This is incorrect. Budhists, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis and Jews in fact are the true religious minorities in terms of numbers. Support to any one of these groups should be considered secular and non-sectarian.
  6. The organizational Chart on page 9 of the report is concocted. It is fictitious. It shows the present BJP government as a political wing of RSS. This contradicts the statement in the report "RSS is not registered with the Government as a public/Charitable trust [p25]." It is also true that it is not registered as a political organization. How can then BJP be the political wing of RSS? The chart also shows IDRF as a subordinate of RSS. These two assumptions are utterly false.

Analysis of the Report

For ease of reading, the analysis will use the codes: p = page number and s = section number in the report.

A reader should look for evidence of at least one of the following A, B or C items to ascertain whether IDRF is funding hate. In the absence of this evidence, Mathew's report should be dispelled as dubious and sinister.

    1. Is IDRF a sectarian organization that funds hate? (The association of a funded agency to outside agencies is an indirect association and it should not be used to label IDRF as sectarian.)

      The table on page 81 in Appendix H lists IDRF funded organizations. This table must be the basis for extracting evidence to show that IDRF is a sectarian organization. Speculative projections do not constitute evidence. The report includes extensive unnecessary discussions on RSS, HINDUTVA, BJP, VHP, Vikasan Foundation [p40] and re-conversion to Hinduism [p58-64], which have no relevance to IDRF operations. Why talk about Vikasan Foundation when it is not funded by IDRF? The argument that IDRF has done some secular funding [p68] but should do more for Christian and Muslim organizations, is not an evidence to prove it wrong. An organization that has not requested for funding has no moral right to complain that it did not receive funding (refer to UWR modus operandi). The report acknowledges that families of Muslim Haj pilgrims who died in fire received humanitarian aid from IDRF [p68] but cleverly ascribes it as an act to gain political mileage. The report adopts the philosophy "You are damned if you help and you are damned if you don't help". It is a no win situation.

      The table [p81] lists 184 organizations spanning 20 Indian States besides several organizations in America. It also lists Army Welfare and Gujarat Earthquake Relief funds. The report should look at all these to infer IDRF's sectarian intent and not just a select few. The table identifies 20 organizations as definitely secular and 36 organizations as non-classifiable, which in terms of percentages are 10.9% and 19.6%. An organization, which is non-classifiable as sectarian should be considered as secular. Therefore, as per the data reported, the secular content should be 30.5% and not 2% [p19, pie chart] as the report claims, and the non-classifiable should be 19.6% and not 7%. The report has deliberately tweaked the numbers to convince the reader that IDRF is not doing enough of secular funding.

      The report cleverly excludes all organizations involved with education, relief and rehabilitation, research, Tornado victims, medical missions, Kargil soldiers fund, Gujarat Earth Quake Relief and tribal upliftment from secular content and wrongly categorizes these activities as sectarian. They should in fact be treated as secular activities.

      In figure 6 on page 87, the report identifies that 1.8% are Hindu religious activities but on page 18, pie chart it states 8% of funding goes to Hindu or Jain religious organizations. There is no math to show how this 8% was figured out. Nonetheless, does funding 1.8% Hindu religious activities make an agency as funding 100% Hindu militancy?

      The report puts forward an illogical argument "90% of funds are in Hindu hands which by the very definition are sectarian" [p20]. In other words, if the funds are in Muslim or Christian hands then the funding becomes non-sectarian but if in Hindu hands it becomes sectarian. How illogical!

      Adivasis have consistently stated that they had no religion prior to becoming Christians [p22, s4.4.1]. The report attests in unequivocal terms that 70% of the IDRF funds go to organizations dealing with education in Adivasi areas [p19]. The report should consider this as secular activity and not sectarian activity. Further more the report deviously labels this help as Hinduization of tribals [p72-79].

      In Appendix F it is stated that large scale conversions of Adivasis to Christianity did occur in the last century but recently RSS had begun re-conversion to Hinduism [p70]. This is a false claim. When Adivasis did not have a religion before conversion to Christianity [p22, s4.4.1], how could they be then re-converted to Hinduism?

      Ekal Vidyalaya, Vanvashi Kalyan Ashram, Sewa Bharati, Vivekananda Kendra, Bharat Kalyan Pratishtha and Friends of Tribal Society are the tribal welfare programs. These are humanitarian programs designed to educate and uplift underprivileged people in India. If there are any people in India that deserve help, then they are tribals. The tribals have no religion [p22, s4.4.1] and IDRF funding of these programs should not be interpreted as sectarian.

      Summing up, this part of the analysis proves that IDRF is not a sectarian organization.
       

    2. Does IDRF funnel money through RSS to its funded agencies?

      The report acknowledges [p5, s2.4] that RSS does not accept foreign funding and by virtue of this acknowledgement it is proof that IDRF never used RSS as a conduit for funding. Therefore, there are no grounds for accusation that IDRF is linked with RSS. IDRF has stated publicly that it has no connection with RSS/VHP [p10, s3].

      The report devotes close to 60% of its discussion on RSS and its Hindutva concept to brand it a violent organization. But the facts prove otherwise. Does the recent RSS's support to Iraq [Feb 3, 2003 news] and opposition to US war on Iraq, mean hatred for Muslims? Definitely not.

      The report alleges that Hindutva is a violent concept and it is growing in considerable numbers in the USA [p1, s1.1], implying that Hindu immigrants to the USA are likely to strengthen Hindu violence. The upshot of this accusation is an underlining intent of the report to stop immigration of Hindus to the US. It is a well known fact that Hindutva embodies religious tolerance. Then how can it be a violent concept? No sane person can equate it to jihad or Nazi persecution.

      This part of the analysis confirms that IDRF does not fund or funnel money through RSS.
       

    3. Do the agencies that IDRF funds have ever been found guilty of sectarian violence?

      The report laboriously tries to project RSS as a violent organization without providing concrete proof of its involvement in anti-religious riots, and then tries to link the IDRF funded agencies to RSS. In other words, it attempts to establish an indirect association and use that as evidence to peg IDRF as a hate funding organization. As explained in "modus operandi of a not-for-profit organization" earlier, indirect association can not be used to label IDRF as funding violence.

      The statement in the report "It could be argued that while the Sangh is sectarian and IDRF has well established links with the Sangh that IDRF's funds do not necessarily aid and abet Hindutva's anti-minority programs" [p18, s4] is enough proof to absolve IDRF of any sectarian intent.

      The report also tries to link Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Gujarat to Muslim and Christian attacks between 1998-2000 [p3] but fails to provide reliable references. It cites one incident and just one reference [p75]. The incident relates to reprisal resulting from the destruction of a Hindu temple in a village in Madhya Pradesh. It is again not substantiated to convince the reader that the attack was premeditated by Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. It is pure speculation to say that a reactionary attack by Hindu villagers is the premeditated work of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and thereby IDRF's deed.

      Elsewhere in the report [p3, s1.4] the anti-Christian attacks of 1998-2000 are attributed to Hindustava organizations but not to Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. Also on page 8 of the report the excerpt "Most of these attacks have been perpetrated by individuals connected to the Sangh Parivar" does not include Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. Again the excerpt "Numerous police reports filed by eyewitnesses after Gujarat Muslim violence have specifically named local VHP, BJP and Bajrang Dal leaders as instigators or participants in the violence" [p9] does not refer to Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. Therefore, it is inconceivable that Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram is involved in perpetrated attacks on Christians or Muslims. Reactionary attacks resulting from temple destruction, sexual molestation of girls by priests, class feuds and personal vendetta should not be classified as anti-religious attacks. Attacks on Christians and Muslims that take place on a perpetual basis with no reason should be classified as religious attacks.

      This analysis provides no evidence to brand IDRF funded agencies as engaging in anti-Christian or anti-Muslim crusades.
       

    4. Other contradictory, false and illogical assertions

The report states "most attacks on Christian minorities have been perpetrated by individuals connected to Sangh Parivar" [p8]. This is in contrast to another statement in the report that "Bajrang Dal has been at the forefront of recent communal attacks against Christians"[p33].

The report draws the inference that holding Hindu festivals in largely non-Hindu populated areas [pp5, S2.4] is anti-secular. If this is true, then the reverse is also true. What perturbs a secular mind is in a Hindu majority India where could the Muslims and Christians hold their religious functions?

As regards to retaliatory Gujarat riots, the report claims that more than 2000 Muslims were massacred. This is a false claim. As per the casualty count some 1000 people were killed including Hindus. But the majority was Muslims. However, the discussion does not tie IDRF with the massacre. The reference to rapes of Muslim women is a fabrication. The one woman who was reported to have been raped in daylight in the presence of hundreds of onlookers, was at the time actually living in New York City.

Conclusions

The report is speculative and ify. It is stuffed with more masaala and less truth. Overwhelming majority of the discussion is focussed on RSS, Hindutva, BJP, re-conversions and other topics that are redundant and irrelevant to the accusation that IDRF funds hate. It bears the likeness of work by Muslim and Christian fundamentalists who on one hand are opposed to Indian anti-conversion laws but in the report decry the religious conversions. Taken as it is, the report, without pruning for distortions and false representations, presents no material evidence to cast aspersions on IDRF's humanitarian intent. One should wait to see the IDRF's response to find out what other holes exist in the report. The analysis presented herein under "Analysis of the Report" absolves IDRF of any criminal intent.

The report is an attempt to pitch Hindus against Muslims and Christians. Its emphasis is that enough has not been done to Muslim and Christian organizations to claim IDRF's secular intent. But it fails to provide the names of organizations in India that deserve IDRF funding and the organizations that sought the funding but were refused. It considers only Muslims and Christians as religious minorities and ignores the vast majority of real religious minorities from this definition.

What is obvious and abhorrent is the intent of the report to equate Hindu Dharma to that of Nazi concept of killing Jews. The report deviously prompts the American reader that Hindus are a violent race and that their numbers in America are increasing in alarming proportions and that it augurs well to curb their immigration to America.

The report assumes a blatant posture in arguing that lectures and seminars on Islamic terrorism are anti-secular. It concedes that 70% of IDRF work was related to tribals, Adivasis and Dalits but it labels it as a move to perpetuate anti-religious attacks.

If there is any community in India that deserves humanitarian aid, its tribals, Adivasis and Dalits. Only people of communistic bent of mind can venture to destroy this down trodden community by putting a stopper to aid.


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