A Factual Response to the Hate Attack on the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF)
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APPENDIX N

The Leftist Attack On IDRF

Author: Harsh Verma (Introduced and Edited by Beloo Mehra)

Publication: Sulekha.com

Date: January 17, 2003

URL: http://www.sulekha.com/column.asp?cid=286920

Editor’s Note: The Sulekha article is an earlier version of the article presented below. 

The release of “Foreign Exchange of Hate: IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva”, a 91-page report accusing IDRF of “duping” its Indian-American donors, and the accompanying media frenzy created a stir of sorts among many members of Indian diaspora. Since the Internet has now become a hotbed for debating such issues, the controversy surrounding the “Hate Report” also unfolded itself on IndDiaspora, an e-group that provides a forum for Indians across different countries and backgrounds to connect with one another and discuss issues pertaining to life in the diaspora (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IndDiaspora).  The article below summarizes the IDRF-related debate as it took place on IndDiaspora.

The voices presented here are those of a small group of concerned members of the diaspora.  These are the voices of people whom the “Hate Report” may consider as being “duped” by IDRF.  These are the voices of people whom the “Hate Report” may consider as partially responsible for “funding hate”.  These are the voices of people whom the “Hate Report” may consider as supporting “sectarian” relief and development work (whatever that means to the authors of the report!) in India. 

As readers will see in the following article, the voices of diaspora are the voices of sanity and reason, expressed only after careful consideration of facts and clear-headed deliberation over issues.  Alas, all of that is missing from the original “Hate Report” which through its misguided and biased “research”, faulty and incompetent analysis, and sweeping and prejudicial generalizations attacks not only a legitimate charity organization, but also through its rhetoric of ‘guilt by association’ holds all donors, volunteers, and supporters accountable for the recent unfortunate violence in Gujarat, India. 

The following article clearly makes a case that members of Indian diaspora with as diverse opinions, ideologies and politics as represented below CAN NOT be easily “duped” as the authors of “Hate Report” would like their readers to believe.  The article also makes a case that by not considering such diverse voices of the diaspora the authors of “Hate Report” and their collaborators in the media clearly fail to understand the ground realities and instead choose to preach hatred from their ivory towers. 

Harsh Verma, the founder and owner of IndDiaspora, summarizes below a sampling of diverse voices from the Indian diaspora – to present just such a ground reality. 

Beloo Mehra

The battlelines have been drawn though the outcome is now almost certain.  The IDRF, a charity that provides funding for Hindu causes in India is to be investigated on charges that it has duped Indians into contributing money which is used for fomenting religious violence in India.  A study conducted by eleven NRIs in the United States was published by the Mumbai based Sabrang Communications and The South Asian Citizens Watch.  The campaign is led by a known India baiter, Biju Mathew who has kicked off a signature campaign on a petition to be submitted to leading US corporate houses such as CISCO, asking them to stop “funding hate”.  Mathew has also launched “Project Saffron Dollar”, which aims at putting an end to the collection of funds by the IDRF.  Copies of the report and petitions demanding an end to the funding have been dispatched to various US corporations, Internet portals, and money exchange facilities.  He accuses the IDRF of discriminating against Muslims and other minorities in India and contributing to the communalization of Indian society.  He also points out that the IDRF has raised money for Hindu victims in Kashmir & Bangladesh but not for Muslims in Gujarat, which according to him proves its bias against MusliMs.

The issue was raised in the IndDiaspora forum and a heated debate ensued which ranged from discussions on the RSS, the prejudice against Hindus in the Indian media to the role of communists in Indian history as well as today.  The first question was whether these people (authors and publishers of “Hate Report”) could be trusted and it was here that a controversy began.  One of our members, a professional in the US, pointed out that Biju Mathew is a member of FOIL (Forum Of Indian Leftists), a shadowy communist/ Marxist organization operating in the US.  Similarly, SACW is a communist organization based in France while Sabrang is a communist organization operating out of Mumbai, India.  According to this member, the language used by the likes of Matthew and his collaborators at FOIL, Sabrang, and SACW to publicly denounce US foreign policy, top US leaders & politicians is laden with incredible invective & vituperation.  These authors simply cannot be believed or trusted. 

This issue was taken up by another member who pointed out that FOIL’s pronouncements on US/Israel and its disagreements with US foreign policy, cannot have any bearing on their report on IDRF.  That would tantamount to distrusting anyone who did not kowtow to US foreign policy, and this smacked of McCarthyism.  This young member (a graduate student in the US) suggested that it was necessary to look at the report and consider the facts.  There were crucial questions to be answered in this regard, according to him:

“1.  Whether NRIs knowingly/unknowingly are funding extremist Hindutva groups in India? 

2.  What is this IDRF?  Where does the IDRF money go?  Is it transferred legally or funneled through to the Parivar by hawala means? 

3.  Do the organizations that benefit from these groups declare their income?  What are these funds used for?”

The reply came from the first participant in this debate:

“But is there clear evidence of Hindutva organizations being officially declared extremist by any recognized world body?  If this is not so, then the whole argument collapses under its own weight.  Further, Indian leftists and communists have had a long history (60 plus years) of bitter political opposition to Hindutva. For this reason alone, it is unwise to accept any FOIL pronouncements on Hindutva without incontrovertible proof.  Mathew himself should have revealed this potential conflict of interest, but did not, in an attempt perhaps to dupe unsuspecting readers.”

In this member’s opinion, it is unfair to conflate Hindutva/ the Sangh with extremism.  He added:

“This equation is a political/ ideological position unrelated to facts.  It is irresponsible & dangerous to define any movement or individual from the vantage point of its ideological/ political opponents.  He pointed out that there was no shred of evidence that IDRF or any Sangh outfit has officially been branded “extremist”, let alone illegal, by any recognized body.”

Hindutva in the member’s opinion was a contemporary Hindu movement trying to make a particular historical identity a central element of its ‘image’.  He explained:

“For example, it appears to espouse the literal interpretation of the Hindu epics such as Ramayana, and builds the modern Hindu identity on a lineage to the people represented in the epics.  In actuality, large parts of Hinduism are unrelated to any such historical identity.  Most diaspora Hindus, including the twenty million Americans practicing yoga/meditation, would clearly be one of those in the ahistorical category.  Too much focus on historicity has made the legitimacy of Hinduism contingent upon the provability of ancient historical claiMs. Hinduism’s theologies do not depend upon any history for their validity, in the same sense as the Laws of Gravitation do not depend upon proving the historical details of Newton’s life.  This is where Hindutva appears to be misguided.  However, this does not make them extremist any more than a bible literalist automatically becomes an extremist.”

This member then went on to explain why the attack on IDRF is misguided, uninformed, and biased:

“Last, but not the least, Indian NRIs/ US corporations/ foundations fund many charitable organizations.  Any law that targets IDRF will also impact numerous other charitable organizations that predate the IDRF by decades.  The first casualty would be the Baptist church in the US, which has long been accused of funding terrorism in India’s Northeast.”

In response to the first issue raised by this member (regarding the branding of any Sangh outfit as extremist) another of our members, a graduate student in the UK pointed out that the Indian government on 10th December, 1990 did ban the RSS, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal along with Jamait-e-Islami Hind and Islamic Sevak Sangh, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967.  She added:

“The ban of course was later lifted.  Does this mean that the government was wrong?  Similarly, the PWG (Naxalites) was banned by the government as well and recently that ban too was lifted.  Was the government wrong again?”

She pointed out that a more balanced view of the Sangh, its history, its leaders, would come from Sudip Dasgupta’s PhD dissertation on the topic of NRI funding to the VHP and its use of the money. 

An essential question that then arises is whether this is relevant to 2002 and events of today.  It is well known that the Indian government (like any government in the world) does things to suit its political agendas over time.  Why is NRI funding to the VHP an issue if the VHP is not an illegal or extremist organization?  How is it different from NRI funding to Christian or Islamic organizations?  Under the circumstances, Dasgupta’s PhD is not only irrelevant, but highly biased too. 

Also, the argument of formal designation of a terrorist group is not a reasonable argument.  If this were so then it would not be tenable to term terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Harkat-ul-Ansar as terrorists till they were recognized as such by the UN or the US.  And the fact is that Pakistan and the OIC had indeed banned the RSS and VHP.  However, the argument that OIC and Pakistan have banned RSS is really of no merit.  In Arabia and other Gulf countries, no religion other than Islam is permissible.  Filipino Christians have tried to observe mass clandestinely and have been punished severely, often whipped and imprisoned for doing so.  In fact even Shias have faced numerous problems despite being Muslims in the ‘holy land of Islam’.  Maybe getting banned would be a sign of congratulations in such fundamentalist regimes and acceptance would actually mean some kind of affinity with fundamentalist/terrorist ideologies. 

With regard to the issue of banning outfits without the approval of UN or the US, another member pointed out that the Indian Government had already declared the Lashkar and similar outfits as terrorists pre-911.  These terrorists had already conducted several murderous attacks against innocents in India and had proudly claimed ownership for these attacks. 

But the idea of someone’s hard-earned money donated with a different intention being channelised to VHP for a temple construction (or mosque destruction) or for paying legal defence fees for the likes of Dara Singh and Co.  was extremely loathsome.  It gave a feeling of being cheated, as the money was collected for a different cause.  Whether or not VHP or RSS were fundamentalists merited a different thread of debate.  There need to be more efforts toward revealing the hidden agendas of organizations like IDRF and then leave it to the donors to judge thereafter.  None of them are obligated to produce proof for not supporting these hidden agendas if they don’t want to.  Everyone has a right to know what happened with the money they donate. 

The work of Biju Mathew is biased and has an agenda of its own.  Whatever be the funds generated by the VHP, they are far less compared to those generated by a single missionary order of either Christianity or Islam.  But there is no corresponding research on them.  No one wants to inquire into the effects of Saudi funding or the support given by many fundamentalist Christians to terrorists in the northeast.  This Dussehra saw terrorists warning against the celebration of Durga Puja by Hindus in Tripura and Baptist ministers uttering vituperative statements in Nagaland.  The news was blacked out by the Indian media but was reported by the BBC.  So there is also the problem of one-sided coverage on the RSS and Hindu issues in the Indian media. The same Outlook magazine, which eulogised the multi-millionaire Kanwal Rekhi for his opposition to Hindutva, failed to report these utterances or demand a similar enquiry into the nature of funding received by such organizations. 

Mathew’s defence is nauseating.  His argument that IDRF be victimised for raising funds to support Bangladeshi Hindus is terrible.  Bangladeshi Hindus are among the most victimised people in this planet since they were ruthlessly exploited, persecuted and their wealth looted by Islamic miscreants in the riots.  The Bangladeshi government refused to respond and the Indian government also looked the other way.  The western countries just ignored the issue but chose to come rushing in on the issue of Gujarat.  Some of us were involved in attempting to make this human tragedy known but failed to do so on account of entrenched attitudes in the Indian and world press.  We find Mathew’s arguments to be highly fascist and supportive of Hindu genocide. 

If IDRF is to be victimised for supporting the Bangladeshi Hindus, then pray who will do so?  Will Mr. Mathew and his gang do the honours?  Incidentally the gang of Mathews and Vijay Pershads stood silently in the shadows while massive murder and rape was going on in Bangladesh.  After remaining silent while Hindus were being massacred they now have the gall to stand up and say that the organisation providing relief to these victims should be banned.  If there is to be an enquiry into IDRF, let there also be an enquiry into Christian funding of militancy in the northeast, Saudi funding of Madrassas and Hindu genocide in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia (another area of discrimination).  Till then any action against the IDRF alone is unjustified and reeks of a direct attack on Hindus as a religious community. 

Acknowledging that there was indeed merit in the argument that hard earned money not be channelised for causes other than the one for which they were donated, one of our members pointed out:

“As regards the intention of the IDRF, that is easily obtained from the IDRF website where the information of where the money is going has always been available.  So one wonders what ‘research’ Hindu haters like Biju Mathew et al have done, They have merely done a cut and tendentious paste assignment with the data that has been publicly available for at least 3 years now.  No one was duped by IDRF.  The donors gave money fully knowing where it went—they knew that it was not going to the Christian Missionaries and Tabhlighis, and that itself was a sufficient reason for many to donate to IDRF.”

This was not enough for another member - a young American woman married to an Indian, and therefore a member of Indian diaspora. She stated that while she agreed that Hindutva advocates are not “extremist any more than a bible literalist automatically becomes an extremist”, there was a connection since extremists are usually literalists, which could be the Bible, the Ramayana, Das Capital, or the Koran.  Therefore, she worried about growing fundamentalism when it becomes increasingly activist and extreme, as it has in the US, Gujarat, and all over the world.  She added that all fundamentalists are not extremists, but the trend or correlation could not be denied.  And fundamentalists were not the only extremists—communists and imperialists have killed more people than anyone.  But she did not support these people either.  In her view, an extremist was anyone who thought that his beliefs should be forced upon others.  As such they had to be stopped. 

This member also pointed out that NRI funding for VHP was certainly an issue for her since she did not support Christian and Muslim organizations.  She was not really concerned about stamps of approval or whether the VHP had been banned by Pakistan or India since she could perfectly well draw her own conclusions about extremism or terrorism and did not need the authority of Bush or the UN or the government to persuade her to do so.  She needed information.  The perpetrators of violence would certainly not explain first-hand about what they do and how they organize—whether in Gujarat, Kashmir, or Iraq.  So, she had gotten used to “second or third hand hearsay” about which she was cautious.  She would like to be more vigilant about checking facts, but it was not easy for her to find evidence for even half of what she read. 

For another member, the issue was not the RSS but about the hidden agendas of charity organizations and the need for a full disclosure of information about the beneficiaries and how the money is spent.  The anger comes when the donor is kept in the dark about the real mission.  Be it the VHP or Muslim league or the Christian missionaries, the donor should know who this money is actually going to.  According to this member, with regard to the RSS, many organizations, both Indian and Western, ‘leftist’ and ‘non-leftist’ have over the years documented the participation of the RSS and its sister organizations in communal riots.  Human Rights Watch, People’s Union for Civil Liberties and many other organizations/teams have documented the involvement of VHP, Bajrang Dal etc. in the recent Gujarat riots.  He added that their role in the Babri Masjid demolition has also been well documented. 

A couple of members pointed out that the RSS is an organization that has participated in organized killing of non-Hindu people (and now dalits too as it appears after Jhajjar) for decades, whose founder was fond of Hitler and which unlawfully brought down an ancient monument in the name of religion etc. Furthermore, RSS literature is strewn with valorization of swayamsevaks beating up Muslims during riots.  So, according to them, it is no secret that these groups are extremist and have participated in extremist activities.  Contrary to their name of ‘Relief and Development’ and claims of “strengthening the roots of a democratic, secular India” they funded killers and proselytizers, probably without the knowledge of their patrons.  Targeting them was definitely not an attack on the Hindu religious community as a whole.  Surely, the Hindu religious community did not merely comprise of the Dara Singhs and the Asheemanads. 

This contention was hotly objected to by another member.  He made the assertion that without the Hindutva = extremism equation, Mathew’s report has no validity.  Funding Hindutva by itself cannot be bad, only if it can be conflated with extremism.  Therefore, there is a desperate requirement and need to equate Hindutva with extremism for Mathew’s initiative to have any legitimacy.  He further added that HRW cannot be cited as an appropriate organization until they have done a report on Bangladesh and Kashmir, both of which predate Gujarat by several years and are logarithmic orders of magnitude much worse.  As to the charge of organized killing of non-Hindus by the RSS, this member pointed out that it was typical FOIL-type propaganda, debunked in all respects by the research done by Dr Elst, whose findings have not yet been challenged by anyone. 

As far as Jhajjar is concerned, this member pointed out that, the real truth was just now emerging after the initial feeding frenzy was over, and as it turns out, this was not a dalit issue.  The latest report even implicates the local police.  With relation to RSS complicity in riots, this member pointed out:

“History has shown that riots in India are always organized and started by certain minorities as a means of intimidating and terrorizing law abiding citizens.  When successive governments failed to protect its own innocent citizens, the RSS was born as a means of self defence against such terror tactics—the middle ‘S’ in RSS stands for swayamsevak which really means “self defence or self reliance” in the face of governmental incompetence and negligence.  It is the basic human right of self-defence against terror, nothing more.”

In actuality, the Jhajhar incident is also a case of failed leadership on the part of the RSS to get embroiled and demonized in an event in which it had no hand at all.  It is now clear as per the statements of even dalit Parliamentarians that the killings were done by the police which then blamed the VHP.  The news was then picked gleefully by the media as another stick to beat the RSS with.  The RSS had a wonderful opportunity to use this event to turn the tables on their accusers.  They could have instituted an independent enquiry, visited the situation to talk to the victims and then sued the offending newspapers for malicious reporting.  They could have also used the event to reach out to the dalits.  Instead, Giriraj Kishore came up with an imbecile statement that the life of a human being was less than that of a cow and all hell broke loose. 

Actually there is indeed a problem with the VHP being targeted in such a fashion by human rights groups.  The same groups do not make the same efforts to target the Students Islamic Movement of India or like-minded Islamic groups, which are behind a whole lot of disturbances.  It’s always Hindu groups who are targeted.  Now it would be easy to say that the VHP has extremists who must be targeted and that these groups have done civil society a great deal of service by exposing such extremists.  If only things were so simple.  A lot of organizations are just not willing to listen to the sufferings of minority Hindus.  It is as if Hindu women getting raped and Hindus getting killed are of no consequence.  Only when the victim happens to be a non-Hindu, do the floodgates of criticism open. 

There is a further problem.  Many such human rights groups are led by people with a distinct agenda of demonizing Hinduism.  This demonization of Hinduism and projecting it as backward has become an industry.  This provides benefits, which are financial as well as political.  The critic of Hinduism becomes a name to be feted and may even get invited to lecture tours in the US.  On the other hand, anyone reporting the crimes of Islamic fundamentalists is targeted as a rascal who must be silenced.  There is indeed some truth in the RSS’s denunciation of the media.  However, the RSS has an extremely foolish and idiotic leadership, which sits and complains rather than making an effort to rectify the situation.  Instead of taking a reasoned approach, it has engaged in its own demonization of the media and handled matters terribly so that it now deserves what it gets. 

There may indeed be lumpen elements in the Bajrang Dal which have to be weeded out but there are more brutal murderers of Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Why isn’t a demand made for them to be brought to justice?  Why isn’t the international community approached to apprehend them?  But that would not bring in financial and political benefits so that is shelved and Hindus are blamed.  Till the more serious perpetrators of massacres in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Indonesia are brought to justice, the selective targeting of Hindus cannot be supported. 

And there are indeed benefits to attack Hindus.  Lalit Vachani for example obtained funding to the tune of $15,000 from the UK based The Soros Foundation for “The Men in the Tree” and “The Boy in the Branch” which are films on the RSS.  One member thought that it would be interesting to have a list of other projects funded by the Soros Foundation.  Here is a list of projects funded by the foundation in the same five-year period:

1.  Sanjay Talreja (US) “The Rise and Fall of Bombay” $15,000 (7/99).  It explores how Bombay, once India’s most liberal and secular city, has now become a bastion for ethnic and religious fundamentalism. 

2.  Ranjan Kamath (India) “The Die is Caste” $15,000 (10/99).  It is on the dalits, the 160 million people at the bottom of India’s caste system. 

3.  Mystelle Brabbee /Craig McTurk (US) “Khilawadi: Eldest Daughter of a Gypsy” $30,000 (3/98).  This is about a community of gypsies in India, where the eldest born daughter to each family must be a prostitute to support the rest. 

4.  Arvind Sinha (India) “Between the Devil and the Deep River” $23,000 (9/2000).  It is about the entrapment of 2 million people inside the banks of rivers in Bihar, India. 

5.  Monique Simard/Deepra Dhanraj (Canada/India) “Nari Adalat: The Women’s Court” $15,000 (9/2000).  It is about the women’s courts in the state of Gujarat in India; an answer to the official courts where they seldom find justice regarding issues such as domestic violence. 

6.  Raney Aronson (US) “ASHA” $40,000 (5/2001).  It is a profile of Indian women who are working at the grass-roots level to stop the devastation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India. 

Now, some of the projects are indeed worthy and look at real issues.  But it was pointed out that while there is funding of attacks on Hindus, not a single grant has been awarded to the Kashmir issue, the rising Christian fundamentalism in the North-east etc.  It’s as if these don’t even exist.  Clearly, one only gets funds if you have an India bashing, Hindu bashing theme.  Another member checked the HRW website and stated that if one were to use it as a source of information one would have no idea about Hindu deaths in Bangladesh, and no idea of the magnitude of their plight in Kashmir. 

Following words from a key participant in this debate presented the much-needed context:

“‘Secular’ Indians and the western world have ignored the three (yes, three) genocides of Hindus (1946, 1971 and current) in the Bengal area within the last 60 years.  The 1946 ‘direct action day’ called by the Muslim League saw tens of thousands of Hindus being killed.  The 1971 West Pakistani genocide led to 2.5 million murders of Hindus while the current one is taking place today.  There is also the currently ongoing, foreign funded Christian violence in the Northeast, which escaped attention so far. 

Rajiv Malhotra, in his Sulekha column, RISA Lila - 1: Wendy’s Child Syndrome raises the following alarm: “History shows that genocides have been preceded by the denigration of the victims—showing them as irrational, immoral, lacking a legitimate religion, lacking in compassion towards others and love towards their babies, etc., i.e,  not deserving of the same human rights extended to white people.  Notice how these so-called practices of mothers are labeled as “a distinctive Hindu pattern” per se.  This is also why “dowry murders” have been very aggressively put on the dominant culture’s agenda, to be prosecuted specifically as “a Hindu problem”, even though the scholarship of Veena Oldenburg and others clearly establishes that it is not a “Hindu” problem.  The time has come to ask: How does today’s scholarship compare with the Eurocentric scholarship in earlier times about Native Americans, African slaves, Jews, Roma, and others, who were subsequently victims of genocide in various ways?  Are certain “objective” scholars, unconsciously driven by their Eurocentric essences, to pave the way for a future genocide of a billion or more Hindus, because of economic and/or ecological pressures of over-population later during this century?”

Samantha Power, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, has written about American ignorance of genocides:

“Perversely, America’s public awareness of the Holocaust often seemed to set the bar for concern so high that we were able to tell ourselves that contemporary genocides were not measuring up.  As the writer David Rieff noted, “never again” might best be defined as “Never again would Germans kill Jews in Europe in the 1940s. 

Either by averting their eyes or attending to more pressing conventional strategic and political concerns, US leaders who have denounced the Holocaust have themselves allowed genocide.  Because the savagery of genocide so defies our everyday experience, many of us failed to wrap our minds around it.  We gradually came to accept the depravity of the Holocaust, but then slotted it in our consciousness as ‘history’; we resist acknowledging that genocide is occurring in the present.  Survivors and witnesses have trouble making the unbelievable believable. 

Bystanders are thus able to retreat to the “twilight between knowing and not knowing.  But this is not an alibi.  We are responsible for our incredulity.  The stories that emerge from genocidal societies are by definition incredible.  That was the lesson the Holocaust should have taught us.  In case after case of genocide, accounts that sounded farfetched and that could not be independently verified repeatedly proved true.  With so much wishful thinking debunked, we should long ago have shifted the burden of proof away from the refugees and to the skeptics, who should be required to offer persuasive reasons for disputing eyewitness claims. A bias toward belief would do less harm than a bias toward disbelief”.”

Many members concluded that the overriding issue was the question of selective bias.  Why have people been involved in condemning the Sangh (which comprises tens of millions of ordinary Indians) without a shred of evidence but are unable to string together two lines for Kashmir or Bangladesh?  Those who dutifully trot out reports & propaganda films about the Sangh should first ask themselves what they have done for Bangladesh or Kashmir.  Why do so many Indians not even want to acknowledge the atrocities committed against Hindus in Kashmir or Bangladesh?  Is it just plain and simple political correctness, a leftist bias, or something more serious/deeper than that? 

Bringing the discussion back to the “Hate Report”, a member pointed out some key problems with the report.  She explained:

“The very basis of this report is based on defining RSS as the apex entity of the Sangh Parivar and Hindutva. The report says that VHP, BJP, and Bajrang Dal are the cultural, politica,l and para-military wings of the RSS.  The Seva Vibhag, which gets funded by the IDRF, is dubbed as the RSS Service wing.  And that is how this tedious connection between the VHP/Bajrang Dal and the Seva Vibhag starts and ends.”

There is much that is wrong with our “history” as well.  The left and those who see themselves as secular have cried themselves hoarse over the demolition of the Babri Masjid.  Yet this same group of people has been active in distortion of Indian history to hide the evil deeds of many Islamic iconoclasts.  Thousands of temples were destroyed during Islamic rule but their destruction has been either be explained away or outright denied.  In many cases there is deliberate hiding of facts about policies on slavery of Hindus, violent persecutions, and forcible conversions.  Yes, there have been others like Akbar, but the majority was akin to Aurangzeb or worse.  The exceptions have been made the rule. 

In this regard, let me end with a question raised by one member of our group:

“One can perhaps even buy the argument that soon after independence there was a desperate need to shove the old demons in the closet so that a fresh start could be made.  But then there is still so much resistance to even look at the issues from an academic standpoint.  What does it say about the social responsibility of academics, especially historians in nation-building?  When and why did our politicians, historians, journalists decide that some human tragedies are worse than others, and that some atrocities are not serious enough to be even reported?”

About Harsh Verma: Harsh has had a background in environmental activism and E-Learning.  With a deep interest in Hindu mythology since childhood, he has been involved in making mythology relevant to modern day concerns.  His articles in this regard have been published on Sulekha and Indian newspapers such as The Hindustan Times, New Delhi.  Harsh is deeply interested in issues concerning the Indian Diaspora and the subject of Hindu Reform.  In this respect, Harsh has founded two extremely successful yahoogroups called IndDiaspora (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IndDiaspora) and Hindu Reform (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hindureform).  Both of these groups have columns on Sulekha: Diasporic Rangoli and Hindu Reform.  Harsh is based in Chennai, India. 

 

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