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2834SACW - 1 July 2014 | A report on the Hindu nationalist circuit in the United States is released

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    Jun 30, 2014
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      South Asia Citizens Wire - Special Dispatch 1 July 2014 - No. 2827
      [since 1996]


      by J.M. <us.hindu.nationalism[at]gmail.com>

      [Released via sacw.net - 1 July 2014]

      Executive Summary

      1. Over the last three decades, a movement toward Hinduizing
      India—advancing the status of Hindus toward political and social
      primacy in India— has continued to gain ground in South Asia and
      diasporic communities. The Sangh Parivar (the Sangh “family”), the
      network of groups at the forefront of this Hindu nationalist movement,
      has an estimated membership numbering in the millions, making the
      Sangh one of the largest voluntary associations in India. The major
      organizations in the Sangh include the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
      (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal, and Bharatiya Janata
      Party (BJP).

      2. Hindu nationalism has intensified and multiplied forms of
      discrimination, exclusion, and gendered and sexualized violence
      against Muslims, Christians, other minorities, and those who oppose
      Sangh violations, as documented by Indian citizens and international
      tribunals, fact-finding groups, international human rights
      organizations, and U.S. governmental bodies.

      3. India-based Sangh affiliates receive social and financial support
      from its U.S.-based wings, the latter of which exist largely as
      tax-exempt non-profit organizations in the United States: Hindu
      Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Sewa
      International USA, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation-USA. The Overseas Friends
      of the Bharatiya Janata Party - USA (OFBJP) is active as well, though
      it is not a tax-exempt group.

      Youth and Family Programs

      4. Sangh-affiliated youth and family programs, such as those held by
      the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America,
      have concentrated their classes, camps, events, and materials on Hindu
      cultural identity. As of May 2014, there were 140 HSS shakhas
      (chapters) in the United States listed on the HSS website. Between
      2002 and 2012 the HSS and VHP have collectively spent more than $2.5
      million on youth and family programs. Literature used by such programs
      often prioritize a version of history and culture that highlights the
      Sangh Parivar leadership of India and Brahminical (upper-caste)
      narratives and practices, while diminishing the struggles and
      contributions of lower caste and non-Hindu communities.

      5. In 2009, Sangh-affiliated Hindu Students Council (HSC) student
      groups were present on 78 U.S. and Canadian university and college
      campuses, including those of Duke University, Emory University, Johns
      Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill
      University, New York University, University of Wisconsin at Madison,
      Stanford University, Syracuse University, University of California at
      Berkeley, Irvine, and San Diego, University of Ottawa, and University
      of Texas at Austin and Houston.

      Charitable Organizations

      6. From 2001 and 2012, five Sangh-affiliated charitable groups (India
      Development and Relief Fund, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of America,
      Param Shakti Peeth, Sewa International, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad of
      America) allocated over $55 million dollars to their program services,
      funds which are largely sent to groups in India. Several of the
      recipient groups have affiliations with the India-based Sangh Parivar,
      and more investigation is needed into:

      a) other funding channels from the United States;
      Hindu Nationalism in the United States: A Report on Nonprofit Groups
      b) whether the monies collected were allocated to the purposes
      reported to the Internal Revenue Service; and
      c) the effects of funding recipients’ work.

      Academic and associated sites

      7. Hindu nationalist groups have increasingly inserted themselves into
      curricular, administrative, and financing arenas in academic and
      educational institutions, specifically in the disciplines of history,
      religious studies, Indology and other fields. Particular projects
      include the establishment and operation of a religious college, the
      Hindu University of America, at least one religious studies conference
      (World Association for Vedic Studies), and funding institutions, such
      as the Infinity Foundation and the Vivek Welfare and Educational
      Foundation. From 2001 to 2013, the Infinity Foundation gave more than
      $1.9 million to researchers, academic associations, and academic
      departments around the world, including the Association for Asian
      Studies, California Institute of Integral Studies, the Center for the
      Study of Developing Societies, Columbia University, Harvard
      University, Melbourne University, National Institute of Advanced
      Studies, Rutgers University, University of Hawaii, and the University
      of Texas at Austin.

      Sangh Leadership in Indo-American Communities

      8. Over the last two decades, Sangh-affiliated organizations have
      emerged as leaders in Indo-American communities. Major events include:

      a) Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP) co-hosted a luncheon on Capitol
      Hill in early March 2002 with two other major Indian-American
      organizations, while BJP-ruled Gujarat witnessed mass killings of
      b) OFBJP members and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association
      (AAHOA) were among the leadership that sought to host Gujarat Chief
      Minister Narendra Modi as an honored guest speaker in 2005.
      c) In the California textbook controversy of 2005-2006, the Vedic
      Foundation and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh’s educational wing, the Hindu
      Education Foundation, led an effort to insert edits into California
      textbooks that foregrounded Hindu nationalist priorities and
      downplayed gender and caste oppression in Ancient India.
      d) Since the textbooks controversy, the Hindu American Foundation has
      become a voice for Hindu nationalist interests to U.S. politicians.

      Further Steps

      9. Further investigations are needed to explore:

      a) possible legal culpability of U.S.-based Sangh groups and members
      in Sangh-led violent acts in South Asia;
      b) possible violations of 501(c)(3) regulations and restrictions; and
      c) the involvement of other U.S.-based groups and individuals in
      supporting violence perpetrated by Hindu nationalist groups.



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