A Factual Response to the Hate Attack on the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF)
 © Friends of India and Authors of the Report
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VII. LIES, MORE LIES, AND NOTHING BUT LIES[72]

  “Repeat a lie, often, and it becomes the truth” – Dr. Joseph Goebbels

The standard propaganda technique introduced by Goebbels and fine-tuned by Communists is to first put a label of a convict on an opponent, repeat it ad nauseum, have someone else repeat it, and then claim that as further proof of evidence.  Modern propaganda is not necessarily a matter of individual inspiration, as Ellul has pointed out[73].  Modern propaganda is based on scientific analyses of psychology and sociology; propaganda is scientific in that it tends to establish a set of rules, rigorous, precise, and tested, that are not merely recipes but impose themselves on every propagandist, who is less and less free to follow his own impulses; what is needed nowadays is an exact analysis of both the environment and the individual to be subjected to propaganda; and the increasing attempt to control its use, measure its results, and define its effects.  The authors of the Sabrang/FOIL report are well educated, are quite unburdened by scruples, have understood the nature and scope of modern propaganda, and know how to use the various techniques with very good effect. 

Thus, their project of demonizing the IDRF is not new. ”Warnings” about an exposé have been coming for a long time.  They have repeated their canard in a variety of forums and for such a long time that what they have reported about the IDRF is taken at face value by lazy media operatives, and subscribed to by academics who have willingly participated in the dissemination of such propaganda themselves. 

 

A. The Propaganda Dissemination Network    

One such warning about the IDRF came on September 14, 1999 when the All India Christian Council (AICC), based in Andhra Pradesh, came out with a press statement with the following subject line: “How the Parivar gets its dollar funds from innocent and not so innocent organizations abroad.  Church funds too find their way to killers of Christians”.  It alleged that “the Parivar is using its money to train killer gangs who wreak murder on the minorities, torture and rape the Dalits, and otherwise work very hard to demolish the plural heritage of the country and the secular character of its democratic Constitution.”

The AICC press statement also alleged that Christian organizations like the Salvation Army were funding VHP-America, and gave out what it called a truncated list of donors.  What the AICC did was to visit the website of VHP-America, and then with a simple switch, changed recipients of monies from this Hindu organization into donors.  Everything else in the list was kept identical.  This is the manner in which “evidence” is collected by the Sabrang/FOIL authors and their collaborators. 

1. Planted and Recycled: The other piece of “propaganda” floating about the IDRF is an article by Biju Mathew and his collaborator-in-chief Vijay Prashad,[74] written for People’s Democracy.  The same article was reprinted, almost word for word, in the April issue of Little India[75], in Znet magazine[76], and in Outlook India[77].  On May 23, 2002, The Wall Street Journal published an article “India Confronts Its Own Intolerance”, by Kanwal Rekhi, the global chairman of The Indus Entrepreneurs, an organization of South Asian businesspeople, and Henry S.  Rowen, a professor emeritus at Stanford and senior fellow of the Hoover Institution.  In it they said: “Many overseas Indian Hindus finance religious groups in India in the belief that the funds will be used to build temples, and educate and feed the poor of their faith.  Many would be appalled to know that some recipients of their money are out to destroy minorities (Christians as well as Muslims) and their places of worship.  Mr. Vajpayee could deal a severe blow to such covert causes by simply labeling them as terrorists.”

Rekhi and Rowen do not say what evidence they had collected to make this statement.  Since the Sabrang/FOIL authors say that they have been working “meticulously” for the last so many years, could they be the source?  Of course, yes. 

So, yet again, not surprisingly, on May 27, a U.S. based organization called the “Coalition against Communalism”, issued full-page ads in India Abroad and India West, in which they asked, “Did our generosity fund the carnage in Gujarat?”  It had the Rekhi-Rowen quote, and in addition there was a quote from Dr. I.  G.  Patel, former Director, Reserve Bank of India, taken from a Rediff.com report of May 13, 2002.  Patel appeals as follows: “I earnestly request NRIs not to donate money to spread hatred in India, neither to the VHP nor to Islamic fundamentalists… Don’t give it to people who propagate violence”[78].  Dr. Patel has not specifically identified any of the Islamic fundamentalist organizations. 

The statement of Rekhi-Rowen triggered an article entitled “Deflections to the Right” in Outlook (July 22, 2002) magazine.  In its very first paragraph the Rekhi-Rowen quote is mentioned.  This article seems to be a summary of the Sabrang/FOIL report that has now come out, and has also specifically targeted the IDRF. 

So, we will draw the reader’s attention to what the editor of Outlook had to say in June 2002 at a workshop organised by the Network of Women in Media, titled “Covering Communal Conflict: Lessons from Gujarat 2002”.  According to a report[79], Vinod Mehta, the editor of Outlook argued that “it was time journalists became activists to dislodge the BJP government at the Centre”.  The same Vinod Mehta, having worked so assiduously to demonize the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and make sure that the BJP did not win the elections in December 2002 in that state, and shocked that the electorate gave a landslide victory to Modi and the BJP, was brazen enough to claim that whatever his magazine’s editorial stance and prognosis on the elections, claimed “It requires an internal debate and no outsider need tell us to re-examine our policy” [80]. 

B. Foreign Funding – Some Comparisons

The next question, in the Indian context, is to ask, “Who gets more funds from foreign sources?”  Christian organizations and churches are some of the heaviest foreign-funded groups in India[81].  Many of the church organizations and affiliates have been identified as supporting and funding terrorism in the country[82]. 

1. [83] Of Christian Largesse: On a discussion list, P. N. Benjamin, Coordinator, Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue (BIRD) shared the following (January 03, 2003):

“During 2001-02 the total amount received by organizations under FCRA regulations in Karnataka was Rs. 534 crores (about $111 million).  Out of this, Rs. 471 crores (about $98 million) were for Christian organizations. 

Catholic and Protestant organizations shared this Rs. 471 crores (about $98 million).  Catholics got Rs. 183 crores (about $38 million) and others, especially the fundamentalist, and born-again Christian organizations that spread hatred against Hinduism got Rs. 288 crores (about $60 million). 

Please do not forget that the rest of the organizations including the ‘Hindutva brigade’ and the Muslims got only Rs. 63 crores in total (about $13 million).  The percentage of Christians in Karnataka is hardly 2% per cent.  This situation is replicated all over the country.  The Hindu-baiters are making a mountain out of a molehill while they themselves thrive under the shade of foreign funds.  The time has come for us to call their bluff.”    

P. N. Benjamin also wrote recently (January 23, 2003) in regard to the controversy of an American priest on a tourist visa preaching in India (forbidden by Indian rules) in the company of a local priest accused of raping a girl.  When the American priest was beaten up, the Indian media reported that the RSS was behind the attacks:

Mr. John Joseph is the Christian representative on the National Minorities Commission.  His tireless efforts towards bringing the Christian leaders and the RSS leaders [together] have resulted in six national rounds of dialogue between them and helped remove misunderstanding and ease tensions between them.  However, the biased Indian English media has always suppressed facts and encouraged the enemies of the country who received millions of foreign funds to tarnish the nation’s image everywhere by giving wide publicity to the so-called Global Council of Indian Christians and other vested interests.  Peace between Hindus and Christians threatens their existence and their incomes from their foreign masters. 

That certain Christian groups and individuals have been at this game of manipulating the media by spreading false rumors and making allegations is not new.  See Appendix O for a detailed fact-finding commission report on one such incident last year in Mysore. 

2. Saving Heathens, converting Hindus: Why didn’t the Sabrang/FOIL report authors, and those publicizing the report, enquire about the foreign funding of “NGOs” that have indeed used the money to proselytize, to demonize Hindus and Hinduism, and to work their agenda of Balkanizing India?  If they had done so, they might have been able to produce a more balanced and objective report about funding “education” and funding “hate” in India.  In that light we will present excerpts from a report on Church-related activities in India and funding by foreign agencies.  The 1999 article, titled “Foreign funding to the Church” by Rajender Chaddha can be found in Appendix J. 

Chaddha writes:

“The annual Home Ministry Report ‘Receipt of Foreign Contribution by Voluntary Association’ and the available Church literature in the country seems to substantiate the view that there exists a strong link between foreign funding and Church and para-Church organizations here.  Even a glance at this bulky Government report, spread over nearly a thousand pages, indicate that over 80 per cent of the voluntary organizations receiving foreign aid are in fact Christian organizations engaged in spread of the religion either directly through propagation or indirectly through social service.  And they go away with the bulk of the foreign assistance.”

Pointing out that the topmost donor agencies are major Christian funding organizations, Chaddha writes: 

“One could hardly have any doubt over the objective of the funding agencies whose name appears in the list of 25 major donors of the report.  For the year 1997-98, the Christian Children Fund from the US topped the list with Rs 64.78 crores (about $13.5 million) is followed by Evangelische Zentralstelle (EZE) from Germany with Rs 59 crores (about $12 million); Foster Parents Plan International, US, with Rs 55.45 crores (about $11.5 million); Missio (International Catholic Missionary Work), Germany, with Rs 48.9 crore (about $10 million) and Kinder Not Hilfe (KNH), Germany, with Rs 46 crore (about $9.6 million)…. 

… Rs 37.54 crore (about $7.8 million) from the World Vision International, US; Rs 27 crore (about $5.6 million) from the Age of Enlightenment Trust, Britain; Rs 23 crore (about $4.8 million) from the Inter Church Co-ord Committee, Netherlands, Rs 21.45 crore (about $4.48 million) from the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Britain; Rs 20 crore (about $4.17 million) from Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM), Germany; Rs 19.9 crore (about $4.15 million) from the Opere Don Bosco, Italy; Rs 19.4 crore (about $4 million) from the Christian Aid, Britain; Rs 19.1 crore (about $3.99 million) from the Zentralstelle Fur Entwickshilfe (ZEF), Germany; Rs 16 crore (about $3.3 million) from the Bread for the World, Germany and Rs 15 crore (about $3.1 million) from the Mission Prokure, Germany. 

A glimpse at the list of donor agencies indicates that the top five of them have been dominated by those that donate funds for the propagation of Christianity.  For instance, the top five for the past four years have been restricted to the Foster Parents Plan International and Christian Children’s Fund from the US, EZE, Missio, Misereor (Catholic Bishops Fund for Overseas Development) and KNH from Germany.  In this decade till now, the top five donor agencies have donated Rs 1,344 crore (about $280.8 million).”

Referring to these statistics as “mind boggling”, Chaddha adds:

“The top five donor countries this decade have been the U.S., Germany, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands.  These have been traditionally known for their support to Christian Organizations.  According to available figures, voluntary donations from these countries this decade have been more than Rs 10,000 crore” (about $ 2.08 billion).

He then looks at the purpose for which this money is being sent to India:

“The purpose as revealed by the recipient seems to substantiate the argument that the money being pumped into India is solely to spread and increase the influence of Christianity, where more than 80 per cent of the population is Hindu…

… This data regarding recipient of donations raises queries that if serving the poor really has been the goal of these organizations, dominated mainly by the Christians, then why do the money go to the States which are relatively higher in Human Development Index…”

Citing from the book titled Mission Mandate by M. Patric Joshua of the Friends Missionary Prayer Band, Chaddha writes:

“… helping the poor, be it through financial assistance, or orphanage, education or through hospitals and other charitable institutions is solely for evangelization.  The book proudly refers to several such instances where innocent poor Indians have been converted due to these inhumanly tricks and strategy.  These answers seem to be substantiated by the available Christian literature in the market.”

Chaddha also presents some incriminating evidence to show how the relief and social welfare measures have been used for propagating Christianity.  Referring to an example mentioned on page 251 of the Mission Mandate about the Evangelical Church of India, which has a separate department for Relief and Development Ministries, he quotes:

“We have been encouraging relief and development projects through our local Churches for the benefit of the poor young converts who are otherwise deprived of Government jobs."   

3. The Enemy of my Enemy is My Friend: Dr. Rafiq Zakaria, a well-known Indian Muslim intellectual and politician, recently wrote about Christian demonization of Prophet Mohammed and Islam.  In the article titled, “The Prophet’s Caravan Goes On”, for The Asian Age[84], he writes:

“Right from the inception of Islam, the Christians have used the worst epithets against Muhammad.  They could not tolerate the rise of Islam, which spread at their cost everywhere.  When the new religion reached almost the heart of Europe, even the best intellectuals among the Christians lost their balance. 

…There has been no let-up in this old vituperative fantasy, which survives to the present day.”

Making an important point about the role of British colonialism and Christian missionaries in creating communal disharmony in India, Dr. Zakaria writes:

“Until their advent in India, there existed in none of the Indian language any diatribe against Muhammad; it is the British governors and Christian missionaries who did all the dirty work to prejudice them against the Prophet.  The Quran had rightly warned the Muslims that they should never take the Christian as their friends.”

Christian demonization of Hindus has gone on for centuries[85].  Zakaria fails to make note of that as an Indian.  However, it is interesting to note, therefore, while Muslims are blaming Christians in India and elsewhere, and are deadlocked in violent struggles in many parts of the world[86], they also form “coalitions of convenience” to take on their “common enemies”: in India it happens to be Hindu groups.  Our point in bringing these Christian and Muslim dynamics in India is to show how these groups are at the forefront of organizing the attack against IDRF. 

The RSS is not a religious or a political organization but very much a social service organization that also has a strong nationalist agenda.  The work of Mother Teresa or the work of Christian missionaries and churches in India get the kind of press in India and abroad that seems to make “social service” the monopoly of certain religions and religious groups.  The RSS’ social service activities not only do not get enough good (to say nothing of unbiased and balanced) press, but they are also hindered by opposition from local and international groups. 

The RSS reports, for example, opposition from politically motivated and caste-based cliques in Karnataka where caste-based reservations and caste-based politics have vitiated public discourse and the public sphere.  Also, as is evident from press reports, the Christian missionaries and church-based organizations have sought to cater to the tribals and backward caste people not for the purpose of helping them economically and socially but for the main purpose of “harvesting their souls for Jesus”[87].  These church groups, many of them liberally funded by foreign sources, have sought to disrupt the work of the RSS and its affiliates, and to deliberately politicize the resulting confrontations and clashes. 

That these issues are not investigated objectively both by the Indian media and academics, let alone by western academics says a lot about the political climate prevailing in India.  An academic like Jaffrelot[88] even has the temerity to suggest that the RSS does social work merely as a tactic: “The urban success of the BJP was symptomatic of the implantation by the RSS and its affiliates of a dense network of activists and of the latter’s propagation of Hindu nationalism and a social welfare tactic” (p.  511).  Churches and Christian missionaries have made social service a business, while the Sangh in India does it in defence of Hindu culture.  Note too that Hindus contribute to their own welfare.  They don’t wish to harvest Christian souls in the name of Narayana and Vishnu. 


[72] A large amount of material in this chapter comes from the rebuttal to the Sabrang report prepared by the Hindu Vivek Kendra: http://www.sulekha.com/column.asp?cid=285983

[73] Jacques Ellul (1973).  Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes.  Vintage Books.

[74] B. Mathew and V. Prashad (March 25, 2001)”.Hindutva for a few dollars a day”.  People’s Democracy: Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).  Vol 25, Number 12.  

http://pd.cpim.org/2001/march25/march25_biju_vijay.htm

[75] B. Mathew and V. Prashad (April 2001)”.Hindutva for a few dollars a day”.  Little India.  http://www.littleindia.com/India/apr2001/hindutva.htm

[78] We wonder why the former chairman of the Reserve Bank of India did not include Christian fundamentalists.  We doubt that he has never heard of the Rev. Pat Robertson, of the Southern Baptists, or of Timothy McVeigh. 

[80] “Why did the English media goof up on Gujarat?”Sheela Bhatt, Rediff on the Net, December 28, 2002

[81] “Christians Organizations Get Lion’s Share of Foreign Funds”, Inder Sawhney, Times of India, August 16, 1999 (See Appendix L for the full report).

[82] http://www.freeindiamedia.com/current_affairs/21_july_current_affairs.htmTerrorists in North-East India get support from America,” by Kunal Ghosh

[83] For the rupee-dollar exchange rate for all the amounts below, please see Note 16 above.

[85] For a fascinating account of it, see S.  N.  Balagangadhara’s, ‘The Heathen in his Blindness’: Asia, the West and the Dynamic of Religion, Leiden: 1994.

[86] Christians and Muslims are at each others’ throats in countries like Sudan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Serbia, and Bosnia.  There are ample reports of the bloody interaction between the world’s two largest monotheistic religious groups, making it unnecessary to provide specific citations for our claim. 

[87] For a devastating critique of the role and influence of Christian missionaries in India, see Arun Shourie (2000).  Harvesting our Souls: Missionaries, Their Design, Their Claims,” New Delhi: ASA Publications.

[88] C. Jaffrelot (1996).  The Hindu nationalist movement in India, New York: Columbia University Press. 

 

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