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CSFH responds to frequently asked questions from readers:
Q1. Who is involved in the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate? Where do your funds come from?
A. We are a diverse group of people of Indian origin living and working in India and the United States. Among us there are professionals, teachers and students belonging to various faiths as well as atheists, agnostics, and those without religious affiliation. CSFH came together a month after the Gujarat massacre, because we felt that if this violent and polarizing force called Hindutva continued to run wild, then the very definition of the country as a plural land with multiple faiths, in which Hinduism itself is a multifaceted system, would all be destroyed.
We contribute personal time and money to this work and do not accept any institutional funding from anywhere. Politically, we consider ourselves part of the broader international progressive community, but are not aligned with any single party or movement. We are bound by one common goal: an India without hatred, where people are not persecuted because of their faith or political beliefs.
Q2. Are you opposed to religion ? Are you opposed to Hinduism in particular?
A. We are not opposed to any religion. We believe that no person or community should be persecuted, discriminated or denied equal rights (or threatened with the same) on the basis of their religious beliefs. Anybody should have the right to freely practice any religion or no religion at all if they choose to do so. We believe that Hindutva is radically different from Hinduism, which is a religion characterized by a multiplicity and plurality of faiths, creeds and practices. Hindutva is a political ideology that promotes an exclusionary, supremacist politics, advocates the use of violence, confuses nationality with culture and religion, and believes that India should be turned into a Hindu supremacist state where non-Hindus will be persecuted and denied equal rights. RSS's founders openly admired Hitler and Mussolini, and therefore imbibed from its beginnings in the 1920s a fascistic worldview that its members and followers still hold on to. The declaration by Hindutva leaders that the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat marked the birth of "Hindu Rashtra" is perhaps the most ominous sign of what this supremacist politics promises for India, if it is not challenged.
Q3. Do you oppose Hindu organizations in the United States?
A. No, we only oppose Hindutva organizations. In fact, we welcome independent Hindu organizations with no affiliations to the Sangh Parivar. In the past, CSFH has worked alongside religious -- including Hindu -- organizations. For instance, in the campaign against Narendra Modi's visit to the United States in March 2005, we worked with 42 other organizations that were part of the Coalition Against Genocide, including the Hindu Vaishnava Center for Enlightment, Sikh American Heritage Organization, and the Indian Muslim Council.
Q4. What is "Unmistakably Sangh" about?
A. The report, " UNMISTAKABLY SANGH: The National Hindu Students Council and its Hindutva Agenda”, is about the Hindu Students Council (HSC). The report provides the first comprehensive documentation of the origins, methods and practices of the HSC and directly counters the claims of the HSC that it "has been independently run since 1993". The report uses documents from Sangh sources – VHPA tax returns, filings with US Patents Office, Internet domain registry information, archives of the HSC, and publications of the Sangh Parivar in North America and elsewhere, to establish that the HSC was and remains an arm of the global Sangh Parivar.
“Unmistakably Sangh” is a longitudinal study starting from the early 1990s and going all the way up to 2007, and traces the evolution of the HSC over this period. By adopting this longitudinal strategy, two objectives are accomplished: (1) making it impossible for HSC to claim that the connections were merely in the past and not in the contemporary moment; and (2) making visible the specific nature of HSC strategy to claim independence from the Sangh Parivar as a way to expand its organizational base with incoming students on campus and to cement infrastructural connections with the Sangh.
Q5. Do all members of the HSC support the Sangh Parivar?
A: No, we are sure and have repeatedly emphasized that most of the young desi Americans who join the HSC have no clue as to the connections between the HSC and the Sangh Parivar. They join the HSC seeking spiritual engagement, taking at face value its claim of being a forum "to learn about Hindu heritage". We trust that they wouldn't willingly associate themselves with or let themselves be used by the Sangh Parivar. The deception we highlight in our report is that of the HSC leadership -- primarily at the national level, and occasionally also at the chapter level -- that misleads and misuses its members' positive desire for spiritual engagement.
Q6. Doesn't your professed opposition to the Sangh Parivar and its Hindutva ideology limit the credibility of this report?
A: Similar to "The Foreign Exchange of Hate" [www.stopfundinghate.org/sacw], the 2002 report documenting the flow of money from the United States into the coffers of the Sangh family in India, almost all of the documentation used to construct the current report comes from the archives of the HSC itself and from the publications of the Sangh family in North America and elsewhere. The report documents the rise of early HSC leaders into the ranks of Sangh family leadership in North America, the detailed family connections between a significant section of the HSC leadership and the Sangh family, and the central role played by the HSC in the creation and maintenance of the Sangh family's internet infrastructure, including the web infrastructure of the Sangh family's parent organization, the RSS. The electronic infrastructure of the Sangh family was unearthed using domaintools.com (formerly whois.sc), a domain name search tool.
The methodological emphasis on neutral primary sources and those internal to the Sangh family is to ensure that the evidentiary basis of the conclusions drawn is of the highest standards. We encourage you to read the report and judge it on its merit.
Q7: Are you selectively targeting Hindu fundamentalism?
A: While we agree that it is important to oppose all religious fundamentalisms, CSFH is a project that started and works out of a concern for India. In the Indian context we consider it far more important to confront and expose the Sangh Parivar because it is exponentially more powerful and dangerous than any other exclusionary organization that operates in Indian politics. We have explained our rationale at http://stopfundinghate.org/actions/press/030403.htm.
Several of the collective members in other projects do work and oppose the American Christian right and white racism for instance, because those are the most powerful institutions in the American context. As a matter of principle we stand in solidarity with anybody defending pluralism and secularism against the onslaught of reactionary fundamentalist and chauvinist movements -- whether these are Hindu, Islamic, Christian, Buddhist or Jewish -- in South Asia and beyond. For instance in the context of fundraising for post-Tsunami relief we took a position against the International Cricket Council's endorsement and support of the Christian fundamentalist organization "World Vision". [http://www.stopfundinghate.org/actions/letters/ltr020205.htm] Moreover, CSFH's allies such as the Friends of South Asia are well known advocates of pluralism and tolerance in several South Asian countries, and in these contexts the battle is not exclusively against Hindutva but also against Islamic fundamentalism, Buddhist chauvinism and also, free market fundamentalism.
Q8: Are you Sangh baiting?
A: We are not 'Sangh baiting'. Sangh baiting would imply that we only do this to get a rise out of the Sangh because we merely 'dislike' them for some reason. Such a contention is not just wrong, it is silly. The Campaign is largely an outcome of the horror all of us felt after the Sangh Parivar went on its genocidal rampage in Gujarat. The Sangh presents one of the greatest dangers to India's existence as a tolerant, pluralistic and democratic society, and its ideology of hate needs to be countered. We all have our personal and professional lives that we would love to give our exclusive attention to, but are compelled by conscience to do this work until the Sangh's hate can be neutralized.