Will the RSS continue to try to use the HSC to provide venues to promote its politics and personalities?
As students return to campuses across the country, they should be aware that groups that promote intolerance and encourage violence may try to use forums provided by student organizations to generate publicity and credibility in the United States and India.
In 2004, Ram Madhav, national spokesman of the RSS, was invited to speak at the University of Pennsylvania and at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Both of these engagements were well publicized and highly contentious. Over 150 academics teaching South Asian studies across the United States signed a petition protesting American universities “granting unprecedented legitimacy to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) by providing an open, unmediated forum for its spokesperson1.” Critics of the invitation suggested that it would be akin to inviting the Ku Klux Klan to give a lecture on campus2. Both of Ram Madhav’s university appearances were met with protests from students and members of the local community.
Less publicized, and almost missing from the public record, was Mr. Madhav’s meeting with students at the University of Houston chapter of the Hindu Students Council (HSC). The HSC’s subsequently issued a press release3 announcing the “reorganization” of the chapter, quoting five students discussing the importance of the organization in bringing together “Hindu youngsters” and preserving “Hindu dharma”. The HSC’s press statement did not, however, mention Mr. Madhav, but if you look at the attached photograph which accompanied the original press release - entitled “Dynamic exec team of U of H HSC” you can see, amid the students, the mustachioed Cheshire grin of the RSS ideologue and national spokesperson, Ram Madhav.
CSFH’s QUESTION FOR THE HSC: Were the students from HSC aware that Ram Madhav is a representative of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)? Will the RSS continue to try to use the HSC to provide venues to promote the politics and personalities of the RSS?
For more information or to pass on comments or questions, contact: Samip Mallick (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Murli Natrajan (email@example.com).
2 Sirohi, Seema. "Hurricane Ram" Outlook India . October 18, 2004.