The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US charity feeds hatred: Report

New Delhi, Nov. 22: India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), a US-based charity organisation, is pumping millions of dollars into a network of organisations that draw sustenance from the RSS and preach hatred against minorities, says a report on the activities of the charity.

A team of US researchers, which probed the functioning of the IDRF, has brought out a 91-page report, detailing the sources of the organisation’s funds, which include leading hi-tech multinational companies like Cisco, and the character of the beneficiary organisations.

Releasing the report earlier this week, Biju Mathew, one of the researchers, said: “According to the IDRF’s own reports, it has disbursed close to $4 million between 1994 and 2000 to dozens of Sangh organisations all over India. Using the US government’s tax exemption status for charities, the IDRF in 2000 alone collected $1.7 million, mainly from US corporations and NRIs in America.” In 1999, the Cisco foundation donated almost $70,000 to IDRF, making the charity one of the top five Cisco grantees.

Mathew added that the researchers are launching a campaign to “stop funding hate”, directed primarily at the US multinationals. Petitions seeking an immediate end to the transfer of IDRF funds to the Sangh organisations have been sent to 10 leading multinational firms. “Unsuspecting corporations end up giving large amounts of money as matching funds to the IDRF as employees of these firms direct money to the IDRF,” said Mathew.

Though IDRF chief Vinod Prakash has denied any links with either the RSS or the VHP, the report shows 83 per cent of its funds went to Sangh outfits, 8 per cent to religious organisations of Hindus and Jains, and 2 per cent to non-sectarian secular organisations. “An analysis of the primary activities of the IDRF-designated organisations in India reveals that a majority of them are not involved in what is commonly understood as ‘relief’ and ‘developmental’ work,” said Mathew.

The report says 70 per cent of IDRF funds go to organisations dealing with “Hinduisation”, education and tribal reconversion programmes. Only 15 per cent are spent on relief, 8 per cent for welfare and health, and 4 per cent for development work.

Pointing out that Cisco’s donations to the IDRF are in direct contravention of its own guidelines, the report points out: “Cisco’s eligibility criterion clearly lays down that the organisation or the project being funded must have a non-religious primary purpose. It rules out funding for any organisation whose primary aim is to promote or serve one culture, race and religion.”

The IDRF-funded Kalyanashram at Sidumbar, however, preaches hatred against Muslims in its literature.

“Muslims are trying to create chaos in the tribal communities either by enticing them or by raping tribal girls. The Kalyanashram at Sidumbar is trying to put an end to the activities of the Muslims and Christians,” says the organisation’s literature.

Mathew contended that even in its relief work, the IDRF nurtures a distinct bias against minority communities. While the IDRF generously donated for the victims of the World Trade Center collapse and for Kashmiri Hindus, it has not announced any relief till date for the Muslim victims in the Gujarat violence, he said.

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