Chapter 2: CONTINUED PATHWAYS OF SAFFRON
In the Preface we outlined the following four claims that the National HSC has advanced (or could advance) in its efforts to deny the HSC’s links to the Sangh, and as an attempt to counter the evidence presented by CSFH.
1. The denial of HSC’s existing infrastructural links with the Sangh,
2. The denial of HSC’s ideological links to the Sangh,
3. The claim that the speakers invited to HSC festivals and conferences are “diverse” in their ideological perspectives, and
4. The claim that individual HSC members attending Sangh activities does not implicate the entire organization.
This chapter examines these four potential defenses in detail.
2.1. HSC’s continuing infrastructural links with the Sangh
In Chapter 1, we demonstrated how the HSC and the Sangh are linked materially and organizationally, most damningly through the common web network structure captured visually in the IP Map (see page 11). National HSC has claimed 26 that it did not host the websites of the RSS, VHP, ABVP, VHP-A, IDRF, Sewa Bharati and other Sangh organizations because it gave up control over its project GHEN (Global Hindu Electronic Networks) to a private firm, Hindunet, in 1999 and that Hindunet was merely HSC’s Internet Service Provider (ISP). (This argument was made by Mr. Sudeep Roy, HSC regional coordinator for Northern California,27 at a meeting organized by the HSC chapter at Stanford University to discuss the information presented by CSFH about the HSC’s links to the Sangh Parivar in the U.S. and in India. See video at http://www.stanford.edu/group/hsc/video.html)
Contrary to the HSC’s claims that it did not host Sangh websites, the archived websites of the RSS, VHP and Hindunet.org from late 1996 to early 1997 have identical content that includes GHEN and HSC logos and the statement “GHEN is sponsored by the Hindu Students Council.” 28 This is consistent with GHEN’s copyright notice on archived hindunet.org webpages, which reads: “Please note that entire collection of GHEN websites is copyrighted 1989-1999, Global Hindu Electronic Networks, Hindu Students Council.” 29 It is clear, therefore, that the web infrastructure for RSS, VHP, VHP-A among others, was built by the HSC. Undeniably the HSC-run GHEN was facilitating the initial web presence of the RSS and VHP at least until 1999.
Further, the assertion that Hindunet is a private company that was formed in 1999 in order to take over GHEN from HSC suggests that Hindunet as an entity did not exist prior to 1999. This is not true. At least as early as 1996, “Hindunet.org” hosted the GHEN/Hindu Universe group of websites. 30 The Copyright for Hindunet.org from that point on has read “Copyright © Hindu Students Council.” 31 Sometime between 1999-2001, HSC’s “non-profit” GHEN became incorporated as a private for-profit entity called Hindunet, Inc.
There is thus a clear continuity in the use of the name “Hindunet” – from HSC’s early Hindunet.org to Hindunet, Inc., which took over ownership of GHEN.
HSC’s supporting role for Sangh activities goes deeper. Apart from an active role in building the Sangh's web infrastructure, HSC/GHEN also ran some of the Sangh’s important internal listservs such as VHPGC-L, “a network exculsively (sic) for the VHP Governing Council Members and chapter coordinators.” 32
The VHP Governing Council listserv included VHP-A leaders Gaurang Vaishnav and Mahesh Mehta, among others, and HSC leaders Mihir Meghani, Ajay Shah and Kanchan Banerjee. The latter three, apart from providing regular updates on HSC projects such as GHEN and GHYAN, also participated in strategy discussions with VHP leaders. 33 Tellingly, Gaurang Vaishnav, General Secretary of the VHP-A, complimented Ajay Shah’s leadership in setting up an “Internet empire”:
Abhayaji is replacing Dr. Ajay Shah who has moved on to what started as an experiment in cyberspace and turned out to be more than a full time job of managing our presence on the Internet. Ajaybhai has been instrumental in almost single handedly creating what I would like to call an Internet empire of VHP of America and HSC…. It was Ajaybhai's persistence that has made communication among the GC [Governing Council] members by email possible. He was the one to clearly see the benefit of this tool and remained an ardent advocate of it until most of us understood and implemented what he was saying.34
It quickly becomes clear how the involvement of HSC in the above listserv aids the formation of Hindunet, Inc. On August 27th 1999, the same Ajay Shah, one of the founders of the HSC and the central figure behind the development of GHEN as a HSC project, wrote a memorandum to the VHP-A’s Executive Board.35 In this document, Shah sought the VHP-A’s permission to “Spin Off Global Hindu Electronic Networks … as a separate for-profit entity.” Shah uses the example of the Bharat Prakashan Kendra, a publishing house whose portfolio includes the RSS and BJP mouthpieces, Organiser and Panchajanya, to lay out his vision for the new relationship between the “HSC spin off” and the “Sangh Parivar.” He suggests that the new arrangement should include a profit-sharing agreement whereby “VHP-A/HSC should be given a share of profit in this commercial venture.” In a clear admission of the HSC’s identification with Hindutva and its continued commitment to the development and control over the Sangh network, Shah’s memo states:
While the day-to-day contents and development would rest with the employees of the commercial GHEN, VHP/HSC and indeed the Sangh parivar should have a say in the over all direction of the contents development. In that, two members of the Borad [sic] of Directors should be appointed by VHP/HSC …. We believe that with the future in mind, this is perhaps the only way we will be able to grow into a major operation, otherwise in the future a commercial company with ample resources and non-Hindutva leanings will over shadow our work.
Mr. Shah’s role as a leader of HSC is indeed fundamental to the presence, growth and success of the Sangh in the USA and on the web. And this memorandum clearly admits that the transfer of GHEN from the control of the HSC, a part of the non-profit VHP-A, to the “newly” incorporated for-profit Hindunet, Inc. was a strategic move by the HSC within the Sangh Parivar.
The documents surrounding the creation and contemporary status of Hindunet, Inc., as a private company reveal much continuity between the non-profit Hindunet.org run by the HSC and its for-profit reincarnation as Hindunet, Inc. An internal document dated April 20, 2000 lists the “GHEN Team”: 36
CEO: Ajay Shah, Ph.D.
V.P. Development: Srinivas Bolisetty
V.P. Operations: Rajiv Varma
C.F.O.: Ragni Mehta
V.P. Sales: Kanchan Banerjee
General Counsel & Director of Marketing: Rakhi Israni
Of the above, Shah, Banerjee and Israni have been HSC leaders and founders. Banerjee and Israni in particular were HSC office bearers after 1999. Available records suggest that Banerjee was Overall advisor of the National HSC in 2004, while Israni was National HSC President in 2004 and Program Director for HSC’s Dharma Conference in 2003.37 Varma and Bolisetty closely worked with the HSC-run GHEN network (Varma was list manager for GHEN/HSC run listservs such as the VHP-GC-L, Bolisetty was the administrator for the HVK discussion lists, and both have ties to organized Sangh Parivar networks in the U.S.; Bolisetty was listed as a contact for the Raleigh/Durham chapter of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), while Varma runs a network of extremely virulent Hindutva websites out of Texas).38
Another document dated August 20, 2001 lists the following as the “Hindunet Management”: 39
Chairman of the Board: Dr. B.K.Modi
Board Member: Dr. Mahesh Mehta
President and CEO: Dr. Ajay Shah
Chief Technical Officer: Srinivas Bolisetty
Ajay Shah and Srinivas Bolisetty remain from the GHEN team. The identity of the other two members of the management team indicates that the process of creating Hindunet as a private company was done under the sponsorship of the VHP. The first, B. K. Modi, has been Chairman of VHP Overseas. The second, Mahesh Mehta, is a founder of VHP-A.40 As noted supra, Shah’s memorandum to the VHP-A seeking permission to “spin off” GHEN includes a clause about VHP-A/HSC nominating two members of the board.41
Moreover, draft versions of a licensing agreement for GHEN between WWWCorp 42 and VHP-A recognize the debt owed to HSC and its parent VHP-A in starting GHEN, and creating and propagating GHEN websites: 43
WHEREAS, Global Hindu Electronic Networks (“GHEN”) was started as a project of Hindu Students Council (“HSC”), a chapter/project of VHP-A;
WHEREAS, WWWCorp recognizes that VHP-A and HSC have significantly contributed to creation and propagation of GHEN websites.
The inescapable conclusion is that Hindunet, Inc. was not some new and independent private entity coming in from the outside. Instead, the creation of Hindunet, Inc. was an “internal” project within the Sangh Parivar of which key participants were HSC and VHP-A. 44
2.2. Questions that CSFH would like National HSC to answer publicly:
- Why did the HSC build and maintain the Sangh web infrastructure prior to 1999?
- Why did Sudeep Roy, HSC regional coordinator for Northern California,45 avoid answering the above question during the Stanford debate when a local HSC member queried him about the status of these websites prior to 1999? 46
- Why did the HSC run listservs (such as that for the VHP-A Governing Council) for Sangh Parivar internal communications? What does it mean that HSC leadership participated in the internal communication of the main decision making body of the VHP-A at least until 1999?
- Why have the National HSC and Regional officers not been publicly forthcoming about the continuing links between the HSC and the Sangh Parivar when they privately worked actively to facilitate the Sangh’s presence in the USA at least until 1999/2000? Instead, why do they insist on denying everything above?
2.3. HSC’s Ideological Links to the Sangh
Despite the information described above, the HSC, as the information presented below demonstrates, continues to claim that it is not ideologically linked to the Sangh and that it "has been independently run since 1993" (see http://www.hscnet.org/fact.php) The available information also shows that even after HSC obtained its own 501(c)(3) status and presumably thus became de jure independent of the VHP-A in 2002 (see chapter 1),47 HSC continued to reproduce and legitimize the Sangh Parivar’s ideology in its activities in the USA.
In 2003, HSC organized the Dharma Conference,48 where “three important projects” 49 were launched:
- Global Outreach for Students and Youth Against Violence (GOSYAV)
- Educator's Society for the Heritage of India (ESHI)
While GOSYAV seems to have been put on the back burner permanently—we have found hardly any mention of it since the announcement of its formation—, ESHI and Netseva have been active in furthering the agenda of the Sangh Parivar. We explore the nature of these initiatives by the HSC and the VHP-A below.
2.4. Educator's Society for the Heritage of India (ESHI)
The National HSC is represented at the leadership level of ESHI by Kanchan Banerjee and Nikunj Trivedi. 50 ESHI was founded “to address the need for greater scrutiny of Indian and Hindu content in school and college curricula and in the media.” 51 Proposed projects included “Review of Middle School, High School and College Textbooks” wherein “ESHI will review content in textbooks at various levels and, where appropriate, contact authors, editors and publishers to suggest changes in content.” The table on the next page lists cross-membership at the leadership level between ESHI and other Sangh Parivar organizations such as the Hindu Education Foundation. 52
Training & Education
VP-Texas (VHP-A), Advisor (HEF)
Co-Founder, VP Public Relations
VP for Youth (VHP-A), Co-Founder (HSC)
VP for Students/New Generation Outreach
Advisor for Fundraising
In September 2004, ESHI held its first national conference on “Contemporary Conceptions of Studies on India in Academia.” The conference was co-sponsored by the HSC, and “information was shared about various initiatives taken in different parts of the country for providing education about India to middle or high school teachers and students.” 53
In August 2005, the HSC and VHP-A, among other organizations, participated in a “Dharma Summit” with the Hindu International Council Against Defamation (HICAD). HSC's important role in the "summit" was expressed most eloquently by Ved Chaudhary, conference coordinator and founder of HICAD and President of ESHI, who “referred to HSC as his right hand and his left hand.” 54 At this conference, Hindutva luminaries, including K.S. Sudarshan, the Sarsanghchalak (Supreme Leader) of the RSS, participated and launched the “Hindu Council Initiative.” 55 This “initiative” explicitly tied the efforts of the Hindutva movement in India to efforts in the U.S., as evidenced in this excerpt from a report prepared by the Hindu Press International:
Youth education and guidance were foremost on most speakers’ minds, with a secondary issue being the treatment Hinduism receives in the dozens of textbooks used in American schools and colleges…However, the books have given shabby treatment to Hinduism. Different speakers explained how to approach the local school board at the time the books were up for adoption, how to influence the selection and even future editions of the books. 56
The conference served as the immediate impetus behind the launch in September 2005 of what has come to be known as the California Textbook Controversy 57 – an ultimately unsuccessful campaign spearheaded by Hindu Education Foundation, Vedic Foundation and ESHI to modify middle school textbooks in California along standard Hindutva ideological lines. The Sangh Parivar sought to “sanitize caste and gender hierarchies and discrimination that permeate ancient Indian history, omit mention of caste and gender injustices in India today, and delete the word dalit (former “untouchable” castes)” 58 from textbooks in California. In support of the HEF/VF efforts in California, “ESHI also contacted Prof. J.S. Rajput, former President of the National Council for Educational Research (NCERT), India, to write about the efforts of textbook corrections in India.” 59 Rajput’s central role in forcing the insertion of distorted history, crude RSS propaganda and hate speech into school textbooks in India in the late 1990s was widely condemned by scholars of history in India and elsewhere, as was his active participation along with the RSS and the BJP in the harassment of scholars in India unwilling to toe the RSS line.60
The interventions in California by ESHI and other Hindutva organizations are very much a continuation of similar efforts in India by the Sangh Parivar. As an HEF volunteer proudly proclaimed in a recent gathering of Sangh Parivar activists from all over the world:
“Through the Hindu Education Foundation run by the RSS in California, we have succeeded in correcting the misleading information in text books for primary and secondary classes.” 61 (emphasis added.)
Given the direct participation of leaders and members of the National HSC in the formation and functioning of organizations such as the ESHI and HEF, it would stretch credibility to claim that the HSC is not trying to replicate in the US the Sangh Parivar’s campaign in India to change the depiction of India and the history of its peoples in school textbooks in the US to match the Sangh Parivar’s hate-filled, distorted vision.
The HSC website lists Netseva as one of its projects. Netseva’s website was taken down shortly after the launch of CSFH’s “Truth Out on HSCs” campaign in April 2007, but the “Projects” page in an archived version of the website 62 suggests that Netseva started as a fundraising arm for Ekal Vidyalayas: “At present Ekal Vidyalaya is the only project supported by Netseva.” 63 What is not mentioned is that Ekal Vidyalaya is a project of the VHP,64 and is a significant component of the Sangh Parivar’s ongoing massive efforts to Hinduize the Adivasis, the indigenous peoples of India, and recruit them as footsoldiers in the RSS war on religious and ethnic minorities in India. (aboriginals in India. This is clear from a sampling of statements by various Sangh personnel and its official publication Organiser (see Appendix B for details).
In 2005, the Indian Government stopped providing grants to Ekal Vidyalayas following the publication of a field research study which concluded that they were “misusing these funds, and using the grants for creating disharmony amongst religious groups and creating a political cadre.” 65
2.6. Questions that CSFH would like National HSC to answer publicly:
A. Does the National HSC support ESHI's efforts to modify school textbooks in California and align them with Hindutva ideology, much like the RSS attempted in India? Does HSC think it is good to distort textbooks to erase, or even downplay, the societal violence and injustice engendered by caste and gender inequities in India?
B. Why does the HSC support, financially and otherwise, the Ekal Vidyalayas in India? Does the HSC condone the wholesale erasure of Adivasi cultures, the indoctrination of Adivasi children into the hate ideology of the Sangh Parivar, and the use, often forcible, of Adivasis as foot soldiers in the Sangh Parivar’s war against religious minorities in India?
2.7. The “Diversity” of HSC Speakers:
The HSC claims that its list of invitees to various conferences is “diverse” and does not betray any ideological bias towards the Sangh. Certainly, some non-Hindutva speakers have been invited to HSC events. However, upon closer examination of the invitee lists for Freedom Festival 1997 and Global Dharma Conference 2003, two key HSC-sponsored conferences, we believe we see a clear pattern: The invitee lists are dominated by speakers who are openly committed to the Sangh agenda, often self-identify with the Sangh Parivar, and/or hold high offices in Sangh Parivar organizations. Moreover, we suspect that the planning and coordination of these HSC conferences proceed in consultation with Sangh organizations.
The ideological trends are easiest to spot in events sponsored by National HSC. For instance, the Freedom Festival in 1997 (FF97) was HSC (organized) to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the 1857 revolt or the first war of independence in India. Early planning documents (see excerpts below) show that many speakers that the organizers planned to invite were part of the Sangh Parivar, and that the Sangh was helping to organize the conference.
GUEST SPEAKERS FROM ABROAD 66
Atalji [for Vajpayee]: most likely to come for Boston and D.C. conference
Arun Shourie: Cannot come for her (sic) wife’s illness.
An alternative name has been suggested by Ashok Singhalji: Shri Narayan Swami, Sr. Editor of Indian Express, supposed to be very effective and knowledgeable speaker on Indian affairs (except of name/fame comparable with Arun Shourie)
Koenraad Elst (Belgium): agreed to come
Mark Tully (BBC): Invitation was sent but we have not heard from him yet
T.N.Shesan: If Atalji comes then we don't need him
Burmese Leader Aung Sun: Sangh office in Myanmar adviced (sic) not to invite her for political and other reasons.
Aparnaji from Chinmaya Mission, Atlanta
Dr. Mahesh Mehta
Dattopant Thengdiji (July 4)
Dayanand Saraswatiji (may be)
Anjleeben Pandya (may be)
Gaurang Vaishnavji (may be)
Of the 16 potential speakers mentioned, at least nine are identifiable senior members of the Sangh Parivar – Vajpayee, Shourie, Elst, Singhal, Agnihotri, Mehta, Thengadi, Gaurang Vaishnav, Dayanand Saraswati and Anjali Pandya (see Appendix A for specific affiliations. All nine of them are senior Sangh leaders. With few exceptions, the FF97 speaker list is very clearly dominated and defined by Sangh ideology at this early planning stage.
What is perhaps even more revealing from the planning exchanges is the deference to, and coordination with, the Sangh leadership. With Shourie apparently unavailable, the HSC relied upon Ashok Singhal, the General Secretary of the VHP in India, to suggest an alternative. Even worse, as indicated in the listserv conversation reproduced supra, in considering to invite Aung San Su Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader, HSC’s planners acted upon advice from the Sangh office in Myamnar that she was politically undesirable for a Sangh event.
The above extract is but one from a long collection of planning emails that reveals much about the HSCs coordination with the Sangh in planning FF97.
A similar pattern emerges in the Dharma Conference of 2003 (DC-03) organized by the HSC. DC-03 gives the appearance of reaching out to a broader audience through the inclusion of a number of non-Sangh speakers and presenters.67 However upon closer examination of DC-03’s speakers and their presentations two things becomes apparent. First, the HSC has made an effort to sanitize the image of a solid Sangh Parivar contingent consisting of high-profile leaders of various RSS organizations in India and the U.S. This is done by projecting them as “experts” on social issues, and playing down their record as Sangh Parivar ideologues and leaders. Second, despite the apparent ‘diversity’ of speakers and presenters in DC03, the only group with a consistent political ideology is the Sangh Parivar contingent. All other speakers and presenters bring various types of spiritual self-help and repackaged social conservatism to the event. A list of speakers is tabulated on the next page.
Masking Sangh Leaders
Based on the brief blurbs provided by the HSC’s Dharma Conference website, Sangh speakers did not directly talk about Hindutva. While we do not know exactly what they presented to their audiences, it is worth noting these blurbs if only to recognize how the purported content jars with their track records as ardent advocates of Hindutva. Balwant Apte and Dattatreya Hosabele, both senior veteran RSS leaders, are identified with a session that claims to address “cultural degeneration, sectarian violence and divisive politics,” and to act as a springboard to “youth acting for societal transformation.” Mahesh Mehta, the founder and long-time president of the VHP-A, the U.S. counterpart of the VHP in India, leads a session claiming to expound on the “dharma of science.” D.P. Sinha, who led the violent campaign against the shooting of the film “Water” in Uttar Pradesh, forcing the film-makers to go to another country to shoot a film about India, leads a session titled “Do performing arts have responsibilities and obligations?” The editors of the RSS mouthpiece “Organiser” and the BJP mouthpiece “Panchajanya,” Seshadri Chari and Tarun Vijay, respectively, held a session titled “Journalistic integrity and the Dharma of the news.”
|Murli Manohar Joshi (BJP/RSS)
B K Modi (VHPO)
Mahesh Mehta (VHP-A)
D. P. Sinha (RSS)
Manohar Shinde (HSS)
Yashwant Pathak (SI/RSS)
|Ved Nanda (HSS)
Rama Jois (RSS)
Jatinder Kumar (IDRF/FISI)
Balwant Apte (RSS/BJP)
Dattathreya Hosabale (RSS)
Seshadri Chari (Ed. Organiser)
Tarun Vijay (Ed. Panchjanya)
S. Gurumurthy (Swadeshi Jagaran Manch/RSS)
|The Kanchi Shankaracharya
All of the session blurbs either completely excise the Sangh Parivar affiliations of the Sangh speakers, or, rarely, gloss over these affiliations by casting them in a positive light. Thus Mahesh Mehta is described as “a polymer scientist by profession,” while Dattatreya Hosabele “has worked with the ABVP (Indian Hindus student group) for decades helping students act in their own interests and in the greater interests of the country.” 68 D.P. Sinha is described as a “celebrated cultural and political figure in India” and the “National Convener of the Cultural Cell,” the latter a euphemistic reference to Samskar Bharati, the RSS front which works to spread the Sangh Parivar’s socio-cultural ideology. The editors of Panchajanya and Organiser are merely described as “senior editors of newspapers in India.” Given all this, the conclusion seems unavoidable that the authors of the conference program deliberately played down the Sangh affiliations of these major Sangh Parivar personalities.
Sangh Dharma and Commodity Dharma
The DC-03 website divides the conference sessions by topical area under “self,” “family,” “society” and “world.” The bulk of the non-Sangh speakers were featured under the topical areas of “self” and “family” while Sangh speakers led sessions listed under the topics “society” and “the world.” This distinction roughly corresponds to the different emphases they brought to the table: the former brought self-help and spiritual ‘products’ while the latter utilized the elastic notion of ‘dharma’ to legitimate the Sangh Parivar agenda.
Sangh speakers and non-Sangh speakers may be considered as two distinct groups; however it is the Sangh speakers who together have an institutional basis for their politics; they are well-known players in the global Sangh Parivar. Their participation is for the Sangh Parivar and for Hindutva. To these swayamsevaks (self-described “selfless workers”), “dharma” is synonymous with Hindutva. On the other hand, the purveyors of self-help options for the immigrant middle class, proponents of repackaged social conservatism and itinerant theorists and enthusiasts of ethics and morality have no institutional or ideological consistency amongst themselves. They cater to specific audiences as vendors of packaged commodities. Their view of “dharma” is shaped by their anticipation of markets for their products, and draws on a long history of western fascination with the allegedly “spiritual” qualities of Indian culture.
The HSC’s inclusion of a solid contingent of Sangh Parivar bigwigs within a seemingly diverse group of speakers for DC03 makes sense when we consider their desire to reach a larger audience: one that is attuned not just to the cultural angst of young students faced with the demands of U.S. ethnic/racial identity politics, but one that is also solidly ensconced within a marketplace where self-help, repackaged social conservatism and spiritualist quackery sells. The same class to which young students who crave a ‘culture’ fix in college campuses belong, also produces consumers eager to remake themselves as model-minority citizen-consumers. This inclusion is also shaped by the desire to legitimate the Sangh Parivar as an authentic leader within the realm of syndicated, commercial, globalized Hinduism. Under the garb of an all-encompassing, inclusive-sounding and ultimately meaningless concept like “dharma” the marketplace can seamlessly blend with the fascist rostrum and vice versa. It is all “dharma” – from pricey incense sticks that claim to improve your concentration, to the club that RSS shakhas teach their trainees to wield against minorities.
2.8. Questions that CSFH would like National HSC to answer publicly:
A. How many HSC members attending FF97 knew of the political affiliations of the speakers? Did they know that some of the speakers had actively engaged in inciting anti-minority hatred in India? Were HSC members aware of the fact that the Sangh Parivar was involved in the planning and coordination of FF97? Why was such information kept away from the membership?
B. Why were the speakers at the Dharma Conference predominantly Sangh Parivar leaders and Hindutva promoters?
2.9. Individuals vs HSC as an Organization
One could argue that individuals from the HSC attending some Sangh events does not necessarily make the HSC an associate of the Sangh. However, such an argument is spurious not just because the HSC members attending the Sangh events are very much there as representatives of HSC, but also because these events were explicitly designed to bring together people from different Sangh Parivar member organizations. Consider the following:
In 1995, two years after the HSC claimed to have become “an independently run organization,” HSC delegates attended the Vishwa Sangh Shibir (World Sangh Camp) in Gujarat.69 The press release following the Shibir had this to say:
“Many youths [sic] came to Bharat for the first time. They were invited in a seven day camp hosted by Antra Rashtriya Sahyog Pratisthan, Gujarat, a registered charitable trust, which is working as a bridge organisation between non-resident Indians and Indians all over the world.” 70
An internal Sangh document suggests that in 1997 a member of the HSC Coordination Council attended a camp organized in India by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (the student wing of the BJP). As part of a “worker exchange” program.
Other Coordination Council members reported meeting ABVP leaders and National Hindu Youth Federation leaders in the UK. An email from then Coordination Council member Mihir Meghani reads: “We encourage key workers from other countries to personally attend some of our programs so we can exchange experiences and learn from each other.” 71 (emphasis added.)
It is instructive to note that the ABVP meetings held were privately held and the meeting in UK with NHSF was one attended not by some random individuals but by “HSC workers”.
Endnotes: 26. The National HSC has not formally responded to questions about maintaining the Sangh Parivar’s electronic infrastructure, but Sudeep Roy, “HSC regional coordinator for Northern California” (see http://www.hscnet.org/articles.php?pid=80) made some comments during a discussion organized by the Stanford HSC. A video of the discussion is available at http://www.stanford.edu/group/hsc/video.html
27. See http://www.hscnet.org/articles.php?pid=80 (archive)
28. The near-identical early websites (dating back to late 1996 or early 1997) of the RSS, VHP and Hindunet support this. See http://web.archive.org/web/19970207195740/http:/www.rss.org (archive), http://web.archive.org/web/19961226114512/http:/www.vhp.org (archive), http://web.archive.org/web/19961105214052/http:/www.hindunet.org (archive).
29. See http://hsctruthout.stopfundinghate.org/PRs/docs/hindunet_old.pdf
30. Domaintools lists Hindunet.org’s creation date as June 2, 1996 (see http://whois.domaintools.com/hindunet.org) (archive). For an early archived page, see http://web.archive.org/web/19961105214052/http://www.hindunet.org) (archive).
31. See note 11, supra.
32. See Ajay Shah’s introductory note (dated Dec 5, 1996) on the VHP Governing Council listserv. (http://www.hindunet.org/archive/listmail-vhpgc-l) (archive).
33. See, for instance, Ajay Shah’s emails dated April 10, 1997, July 27, 1997 & August 14, 1997, and Mihir Meghani’s email dated September 18, 1998 on the VHP Governing Council listserv. (http://www.hindunet.org/archive/listmail-vhpgc-l) (archive).
34. See VHP-A General Secretary Gaurang Vaishnav’s email (dated January 9, 1997) at http://www.hindunet.org/archive/listmail-vhpgc-l (archive)
35. See Ajay Shah’s memorandum to the VHP-A, dated August 27, 1999, at http://www.hindunet.org/users/ajay/MEMO.DOC (archive)
36. The GHEN team is listed on slide #19 of the file ghen_bplan_new2.ppt (originally downloaded from http://www.hindunet.org/ajay/hindunet_inc/feb2001/ghen_bplan_new2.ppt ), (archive)
37. See a brief note on the Sangh affiliations of Shah, Banerjee and Israni.
38. See a brief note on the Sangh affiliations of Varma and Bolisetty. (archive)
39. The HinduNet Management team is listed on slide #5 of the file hindunet_syndication.ppt (originally downloaded from http://www.hindunet.org/ajay/hindunet_inc/hindunet_syndication.ppt ) (archive)
40. For a brief note on the Sangh affiliations of BK Modi and Mahesh Mehta, see Appendix A.
41. Ajay Shah's memorandum to VHPA (dated August 27, 1999, originally downloaded from http://www.hindunet.org/users/ajay/MEMO.DOC) (archive) reads: "While the day-to-day contents and development would rest with the employees of the commercial GHEN, VHP/HSC and indeed the Sangh parivar should have a say in the over all direction of the contents development. In that, two members of the Borad (sic) of Directors should be appointed by VHP/HSC."
42. WWWCorp was an entity founded by Ajay Shah, Rajiv Verma and Srinivas Bolisetty.
43. According to a draft of a "Licensing Agreement" between WWWCorp and VHPA, the "name and ownership of web sites operated as GHEN would be completely transferred from VHP-A to WWWCorp in exchange for profit and revenue sharing arrangements". The document was originally downloaded from http://www.hindunet.org/users/ajay/ajayGHENagreement4.doc (archive). We could find a number of drafts of the licensing agreement, and have archived them on our website.
44. This conclusion is further supported by a draft of a "Memorandum of Understanding" between WWWCorp, Ajay Shah, Srinivas Bolisetty and Rajiv Varma of the First Part, Mahesh Mehta of the Second Part, and Vest N Web, Inc. of the third Part which was to incorporate HinduNet, Inc. Upon incorporation of HinduNet, 50% of its assets were to be transferred to parties of the First Part, 10% to the Mahesh Mehta (of the Second Part) who was to hold these shares for the benefit of VHP-A. The MoU was originally downloaded from http://www.hindunet.org/users/ajay/ghen.022701/hindunet_agreement.doc (archive).
45. See note 27, supra.
46. This exchange is captured at approximately 49 mins to 52 mins into the video recording of this discussion at http://www.stanford.edu/group/hsc/video.html
47. The “Summary of Accounts” attached with the 2000 Form 990 for VHP of America, Inc., lists “National HSC” as one of its 27 chapters. The HSC started filing its own Form 990s starting 2003, suggesting that it was an independent legal entity in 2002.
48. The conference website lists the HSC as a “co-sponsor,” and the HSC was one of the prime movers behind the event. Kanchan Banerjee, the coordinator for HSC was the Conference Chairman, and Nikunj Trivedi, the President of National HSC was the Public Relations Director, and Rakhi Israni, the previous president of National HSC, was listed as the Conference Program Director.
49. See http://www.dharmaconference.org/theConference.html (archive)
50. Nikunj Trivedi is currently President of National HSC. Kanchan Banerjee’s current affiliation with HSC is unknown, but at the time of the Dharma Conference in 2003, Banerjee was listed as coordinator of HSC.
51. See http://www.dharmaconference.org/ESHI.htm (archive)
52. See http://www.eshiusa.org/aboutus.htm (archive). Elsewhere, Kanchan Banerjee is referred to as a co-founder. See http://www.eshiusa.org/NL-vol1_030805.htm.(archive) For a brief overview of the HEF and Vedic Foundation, see http://www.friendsofsouthasia.org/textbook/About_HEF_and_VF.html
53. See http://www.eshiusa.org/NL-vol1_030805.htm (archive)
54. See http://www.hvk.org/articles/0805/134.html (archive)
55. Lakshmi Ravu, Report on the Dharma Summit 2005, at http://www.vedicfriends.org/reports_on_the_dharma_summit.htm (“Some of the most important Hindu leaders in the world were present for this event. Including: Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswatiji (the inspiration behind the Dharma Summit, and convener of the event), Sri Chidananda Muniji (the creator of the Hindu Encyclopedia project), Sri Bodhinatha Veylanswami (Publisher of Hinduism Today Magazine) and several of his sannyasis, Sri K. S. Sudarshan (leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the largest Hindu service organization on earth), Dr. Pranav Pandya (leader of the several million members of the Gayatri Pariwar), Sri Swami Jyotirmayananda (Ramakrishna Order), Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastriji), Dr. Frank Gaetano Morales (the well-respected American Hindu intellectual and philosopher), Sri Steven Knapp (a prolific American Hindu author), and many others. These Hindu lights and dignitaries all filled the first row of the auditorium. Several Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh leaders were also present.”). (archive)
56. See http://www.vedicfriends.org/reports_on_the_dharma_summit.htm
57. See http://www.friendsofsouthasia.org/textbook
58. See http://southasiafaculty.net/catextbooks/files/CAEd_TextbookChanges_Factsheet.pdf (archive)
59. ESHI Press Release, December 5, 2005, at http://web.archive.org/web/20060118034534/http://www.eshiusa.org/PressRelease/ESHI_Press_Release_120605.pdf (archive)
60. “Rajput ran a reign of terror,” stated Professor Anil Sadgopal, BJVJ (Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha – Indian People’s Science Movement/Network) vice-president and professor of education at Delhi University. “Nobody dared speak his mind at his meetings. People at NCERT refer to that period as a bawander (whirlpool), a toofan (cyclone) that has now hopefully passed. So many who asserted themselves were abruptly transferred.” Operation Wipe Out, The Week, 20 June, 2004, available at http://web.archive.org/web/20040618131506/http://www.the-week.com/24jun20/currentevents_article10.htm. (archive) See also “Communalization of Education, The History Textbook Controversy: An Overview,” Mridula Mukherjee and Aditya Mukherjee, Professors of History, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, 22 December, 2001, available at http://www.sacw.net/HateEducation/MridulaAditya122001.html; “Hindutva Ire: The NCERT's censorship of history textbooks represents a Hindutva attack on the ideas of pluralism and tolerance,” Praful Bidwai, Frontline Magazine, Volume 18 - Issue 25, Dec. 08 -21, 2001, available at http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl1825/18251120.htm
61. RSS Abroad: 'We are striving to keep our culture alive', Times of India, Ahmedabad Edition, Dec 31, 2005, available at http://www.friendsofsouthasia.org/textbook/TimesOfIndia_Article_RSSAbroad.html
62. See http://web.archive.org/web/20031212231144/http://www.netseva.org/ (archived on Dec 12, 2003).(archive)
63. See http://web.archive.org/web/20040221142307/www.cis.upenn.edu/~arunc/netseva/projects.html (archived on Dec 12, 2003). (archive) Later on, Netseva started supporting more projects.
64. See http://www.vhp.org/englishsite/d.Dimensions_of_VHP/bekal%20vidyalya/ekalvidyalayayojana.htm (archive)
65. See http://www.hindu.com/2005/05/19/stories/2005051907291200.htm The study, "Final Report on the field visit and observations of Mr. Avdhash Kaushal for Singhbum districts in Jharkhand and Tinshukia & Dibrugarh district in Assam", also cites an instance where an Ekal Vidyalaya teacher trained in “Hindu Culture” (by Vanbandhu Parishad) ganged up with his colleagues to destroy a half-built church -- all in the name of propagating Hinduism.
66. The Freedom Festival 97 planning documents were originally downloaded from http://www.freeindia.org/archive/listmail-ff97-l) (archive)
67. See http://www.dharmaconference.org/speakersguests.html (archive) and http://www.dharmaconference.org/Program.htm(archive) for a full list that includes such personalities as the actor Goldie Hawn, and the new age guru Deepak Chopra among others.
68. In reality, ABVP, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, is the political student-wing of the RSS and BJP, and is active in colleges and on university campuses.
69. See note 9, supra.
71. Excerpted from an email from Mihir Meghani, dated January 6, 1998, sent on the HSC Coordination Council listserv (originally downloaded from http://www.hindunet.org/archive/listmail-hsc-cc) (archive)