IDRF is administered by volunteers and has little to no overhead
cost. IDRF volunteers meet out-of-pocket expenses and
visit NGOs at their own expense.
They also generate income for IDRF by organizing cultural
events, operating food stalls at fairs, and distributing grocery
scrips and calendars. Thus,
IDRF disburses close to 100 percent of contributor donations and does so
directly to the beneficiary NGOs.
Not many welfare and charity organizations including the Red
Cross, CARE, American India Foundation, etc. can say this about
their fund-raising and disbursement.
IDRF volunteers spend money from their own pockets for travel,
stationery, telephone calls, etc.
According to objective third party charity rating agencies,
IDRF gets an “A” for the funding to expenses ratio.
In fact, it may be one of the unique organizations where
there are almost no overhead expenses.
The word “affiliate” has been used
loosely by many, including by one of the authors of this report.
That should not be taken to mean that indeed the IDRF or its
volunteers are the employees or handmaidens of the RSS.
let us compare IDRF’s record to that of Biju Mathew.
The chief author of the Sabrang/FOIL report is the
Vice-President of an organization named SINGH Foundation.
SINGH—a convoluted acronym
-- stands for “Secular India’s National Growth and
Harmony.” The records
show that of $125,800 collected by SINGH in five years, the program
expenses were less than 50% of total expenses!
Over $39,000 was used
to fund travel for an organization that is devoted to supporting
grassroots efforts in India “to promote civil liberties,
secularism, communal harmony, women’s issues, and uplifting of the
For the year ending 12/31/2001, the SINGH Foundation reported
$27,653 as its revenue. Out
of this, total operating and administrative expenses were $13,237,
of which travel, conferences and meetings were $8,703.
Contributions, grants, and gifts paid totaled $12,254.
In other words, their program-funding ratio ($12,254/25,491)
is less than 50%, which will get an F rating from charity rating
report claims that,
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.
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.
organizations in the US do extensive publicity and fundraising for
the IDRF. They openly
acknowledge IDRF as a part of the Sangh.”
Here a further
comment on the relationship between the RSS and IDRF is in order:
the IDRF was started by Dr. Vinod Prakash, who grew up attending RSS
shakhas, and was inspired by the Sangh philosophy and so has an
ideological kinship with the RSS.
He has never denied it, and in fact he has explicitly
acknowledged this in a recent press conference.
Many of IDRF’s volunteers have been inspired by the RSS
philosophy of serving India, but not all of IDRF’s volunteers and
office-bearers have that affiliation.
The IDRF does not have any legal or formal relationship with
the RSS or the RSS’ American or Indian affiliates.
The RSS does not direct how IDRF should commit its funds nor
does it speak for IDRF. The
IDRF, in turn, does not represent nor speak for the RSS or any of
its affiliates. IDRF is
an independent, legal, registered, non-profit organization in the
U.S. It has its own
board of directors.
Do the IDRF
volunteers and office-bearers talk to members of the RSS affiliates
in India and the U.S.? Perhaps.
Let us not forget that the RSS is supposedly one of the
largest NGOs in the world, and the VHP is active in delivering a
wide range of social, educational, and relief services in India.
But does the RSS itself or its affiliates, or the VHP
influence how monies are raised, and to whom it is allocated by the
IDRF? To this the answer is a resolute
and unconditional “NO” according to the IDRF.
Consider for example
that the Ford, Rockefeller and Pew Foundations talk to various
community and religious organizations providing charitable and
social services. They
maintain an active dialog as a matter of fact.
This does not make their funding commitment decisions
“religious” or “sectarian.”
Many groups like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army give
money to Catholic charities. That
does not mean these groups support child molestation simply because
of their association with the scandal-plagued church.
has raised 10 million dollars during the past decade.
By raising $303,000 for the rehabilitation of victims of the
1993 earthquake in Latur, Maharashtra, IDRF was awarded the
distinction of being America’s topmost voluntary NGO.
In the year 2001, IDRF disbursed $668,000 to 98 NGOs, mostly
the services of IDRF, one donor could fulfill his dream of
establishing a high school in his native village.
Another non-resident Indian is supporting a tribal women
self-empowerment training center in the memory of her father.
Five young couples have donated their wedding gifts to the
IDRF. Some families
have contributed funds that enabled the IDRF to finance the purchase
of 12 ambulances/medical vans.
Other donors have adopted a school, a village, or sponsored
health, and eye care programs.
we present some detailed information about the IDRF’s policies and
practices regarding fund-raising and fund-disbursement.
Please note that all this information is at the fingertips of
anyone interested in learning more about the IDRF (
However, the Sabrang /FOIL authors probably chose to
deliberately disregard this information while defaming and maligning
the image of IDRF, and perverting the information from the IDRF web
IDRF donor can choose to send money directly to a specific project
instead of sending a general contribution to the IDRF.
donor designated project or trust in India should be a registered
non-profit organization in India.
assure donors that their contributions will be properly used, IDRF
attaches the utmost importance to the NGO’s accountability and
integrity. IDRF selects
NGOs with a proven track record.
Dr. Vinod Prakash visits India almost every year and has
personally observed the work on different projects in 14 states.
Since his retirement from the World Bank in 1988, he has
volunteered virtually all his time for IDRF.
We note that IDRF’s US - India coordinator spends about six
months a year in India visiting the project sites.
IDRF volunteers also visit those sites and submit reports.
has also been receiving matching corporate gifts.
offers donors a wide range of opportunities.
For example, donors may let IDRF choose the recipients or
donors can designate a project of their choice, such as:
– Van/ambulance for a Mobile Medical Clinic
-- Save 10,000 Children from Blindness
-- Adopt the family of a “Kargil Hero”
-- Adopt a One-Teacher School (The amount now sought for these
single teacher schools is $500 instead of $350 per year)
-- Adopt a Child at a Residential School
-- Contribute to the Deendayal Kosh (for the unique Chitrakoot
Project in Madhya Pradesh state).
This project, initiated by Nanaji Deshmukh, is actively
supported by industrialists like Nusli Wadia and Keshubh Mahindra.
IDRF has clear policies and procedures to
ensure that its mission is being met.
Each NGO it works with must meet the following criteria:
It must be registered as a charitable organization
eligible for tax exemption under sections 80(G) and 12 A (a) of the
Income Tax Act of 1961 of the Government of India, and provide IDRF
with proof of such registration (its Section 80G ID).
It must be non-discriminatory and must serve its
population without regard to caste, sect, region, or religion.
It must involve local people in order to support
self-sufficiency and self-help rather than create an environment of
It must be volunteer-based, with minimal overhead, to
ensure maximum benefit to the poor and needy.
Cognizant of the
potential for corruption in India,
IDRF is vigilant in maintaining a high level of scrutiny to ensure
that these standards are met. In
addition, IDRF volunteers have visited almost all of the NGOs that
have received major funding from the IDRF.
IDRF volunteers have been visiting India over the past 20 years and
they identify the NGOs they deem ideal for receiving support.
Those NGOs identified as having dedicated workers and
volunteers get first priority.
These NGOs work throughout rural and urban India: from Jammu
and Kashmir (North) to Kerala and Tamil Nadu (South) and from
Arunachal Pradesh (East) to Gujarat (West).
IDRF-supported, grassroots NGOs
focus on integrated human development, creation of self-empowerment,
inculcation of responsible citizenry, promotion of social and
economic harmony, and bringing the neglecteddowntrodden segments of
society and persons with disabilities into the mainstream.
These Indian NGOs operate with a minuscule budget and serve
people without consideration of caste, sect, or religion.
IDRF supported NGOs have received awards from national (Indian) and
international institutions. These
awards symbolize the selfless work being done by these NGOs and
their dedication to their chosen mission.
Below we list selected information about these
accomplishments and awards. For
a more complete listing, see Appendix
Research and Charitable Trust has
won international recognition for its contributions in the
area of healthcare. In 1993, the Trust received the prestigious
Sasakawa Health Prize from the World Health Organization (WHO)..
won honorable mention in the prestigious UNESCO Madanjeet Singh
Prize for Promotion of Tolerance and Non-violence category.
UNESCO’s communication sent to the Ramakrishna Mission
states, “This honorary mention highlights UNESCO’s recognition
of your continuous activities to make peace and happiness prevail
among the people, regardless of their caste or religious beliefs”.
Earlier recipients of the honor include Gandhian worker
Narayan Desai and South Africa’s Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Vivekananda Medical Mission
was awarded the 2001 Governors
Community Service Award
for “Bringing Basic Amenities and Health Care to the Tribals in
Kerala, India” by the American College of
International Center for Cultural Studies
(ICSS), Nagpur is a member of the Forum of Indian NGOs
Cooperation with UN (FINCUN) and working member of the Asia
Pacific Center, Japan. ICSS
has conducted a joint
conference with the School of Maori and
Pacific Development, the University of Waikato, New Zealand.
supported NGOs enjoy support from multiple non-profit organizations
in addition to IDRF. This
support not only validates IDRF’s selection of these NGOs, but
also adds to the importance of the work being done and the
recognition they received in the form of grants from other US based
Indo-American charities. We
have listed some IDRF supported NGOs and their supporting charities
Below, we provide some examples:
Prabodhini was funded by ASHA in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000.
The same organization was also funded
by AID in 1999.
Kalyan Ashram, Maharashtra, another NGO under attack by Sabrang/FOIL
authors, was also funded by
ASHA in 1997 and 1998.
and ASHA have also funded Vanvasi Ashram Trust, Waynad, Kerala.
both these organizations – AID and ASHA – deemed “secular”
by Sabrang/FOIL – are engaged in funding NGOs that provide
non-sectarian, social welfare services, how is it possible that the
simple fact of IDRF support to these NGOs would result in their
being labeled as “Hindu” NGOs or NGOs engaged in “Hinduization”?