Archive for April, 2007

Hindu Students Council and the art of shooting from the hip

April 27, 2007

The HSC press release of April 20, 2007 is a classic instance of shooting from the hip. Four days had passed since the release of the report, Lying Religiously: The Hindu Students Council and the Politics of Deception (LyR), and one could only remain silent for so long! But how do you react when the evidence is stacked against you? Shoot from the hip, seems to have been the advice from the VHPA head-honchos, for that’s what the HSC has done.

The HSC PR starts by misusing three adjectives: inaccurate, misleading, anonymous.

  • If the LyR report was inaccurate/misleading, how about at least one refutation of the core claims?
  • CSFH has been around since November 2002, I can’t see how this squares with the HSC’s understanding of anonymous.

Next, the PR asserts that LyR‘s claim that the HSC has been deceiving its members about its activities is erroneous, but don’t hold your breath for the HSC to substantiate its assertion. Proof by assertion, with a liberal dose of ad hominem, has served the Sangh well all these years, and the HSC has taken the same route.

The PR also claims that LyR is a mix of outdated information (some of which is 15 years old and presented as currently accurate) and inaccurate claims. LyR is a longitudinal study starting from the early 1990s and going all the way up to 2007.

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 cynically reveal or conceal its links to the Sangh Parivar as a way to expand its organizational base with incoming students on campus and to cement infrastructural connections with the Sangh.

Perhaps the Sanghis don’t know the difference between outdated information and a longitudinal study? However, as anyone that has dealt with them knows, such ignorance is willful.

After a banal paragraph comes this juicy bit, reproduced below in full:

HSC members are encouraged to reach out to a wide variety of organizations in the United States that share an interest in promoting a stronger, more educated Hindu community. Such organizations include the Art of Living, BAPS, Chinmaya Mission, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, the Gayatri Parivar, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, International Society of Krishna Consciousness, the Vedanta Society, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, and various Hindu temples and ashrams.

The HSS acknowledges that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [is] the parent body of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS acknowledges that [outside India], Sangh’s full name is Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh. As for the VHP of America, the VHP acknowledges that “[t]here are VHP Units, registered under its name according to the laws of the respective countries, in USA, U.K” and lists VHP of America as one such unit. In short, the evidentiary loop between the HSS, VHPA and the RSS is complete. As per its own press release, the HSC encourages its members to reach out to … the RSS! Now, the HSC could justifiably claim that the information here is dated (for it depends on an almost week-old HSC press release), but you get the point, don’t you?

As for the HSC’s rant about the timing of LyR’s release, LyR was released on April 15, a day before the tragic Virginia Tech shooting. I quote below CSFH’s fitting response to HSC’s hypocrisy.

The HSC National leadership accuses CSFH of insensitivity in launching such a campaign at a moment when they are busy offering solidarity to the Virginia Tech HSC chapter after the tragic events of April 16. We find this diversionary tactic most hypocritical, for the HSC has stood by in stony silence after each riot carried out by its sister organizations in India. In 1993, the HSC rationalized and celebrated the destruction of the Babri mosque (and the anti-Muslim violence that followed) as “the beginning of the new age of Hindu Renaissance, a new Hindu Revolution”. Again, after the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, the National HSC promptly (and rightly) called for apprehending the perpetrators of the Godhra carnage, but was understandably silent about justice for the families of the more than 2000 Muslims massacred in what was probably the worst carnage since 1947. In fact, in the post-genocide days, the National HSC was busy oiling the machinery of the Sangh’s global propaganda network (by maintaining the electronic infrastructure of the Sangh). Is the National HSC not complicit in the cover up that has ensued since 2002?

The Sangh is known to profit from disasters — natural or man-made — and the HSC’s attempt to hide behind the Virginia Tech shooting is just another manifestation of its crassly instrumental use of human tragedy. Will the HSC leadership dig its own grave and stand exposed to its rank-and-file? Only time can tell. But until then, lets do our bit and try get the individual HSC chapters dissociate from the national HSC (that’s under the supervision of the VHPA’s Youth Programs Coordinator).

The Deception Continues: HSC Fails to Deny CSFH Charges

April 23, 2007

On Sunday, April 15, 2007, the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (CSFH) released a 65-page new report titled Lying Religiously: The Hindu Students Council and the Politics of Deception, (LyR) that comprehensively documented the links between the North American campus based organization, the Hindu Student Council (HSC) and the ultra-right, violent, Hindu chauvinist network of organizations in India-the Sangh Parivar. The report was released at the “2007 Organizing Youth (OY!) Conference” held in NYC from April 13-15 and was enthusiastically received by South Asian American youth at the OY conference.

In its response to the report, the HSC press release of April 20, 2007 characterizes the CSFH report as a smear campaign that is based on inaccuracies and outdated information. Beyond these assertions the press release only repeats banal platitudes about itself and its vision without denying even one item of evidence presented in the LyR report.

The first charge is curious since almost all information presented in the CSFH report are drawn directly from official HSC or Sangh Parivar sources. This leaves no room for claiming that the sources are invalid or the representation is inaccurate since these are all the HSC’s own statements about itself, and various Sangh organizations’ official statements about the HSC (See our first press release and a summary power point presentation at for details of the report). The methodological emphasis on sources internal to the Sangh family is to ensure that the evidentiary basis of the conclusions drawn is of the highest standards. Given this, we can only conclude that the HSC leadership is in denial.

Nevertheless, CSFH would like to highlight a few pieces of the evidence that the National HSC leadership has chosen to avoid and invite the HSC to publicly comment on the same.

  • The CSFH report documents that HSC maintains and hosts numerous Sangh websites (RSS, VHP, VHPS, ABVP, and others), thus playing the role of a mature partner in the Sangh family or parivar. This information is documented in detail with IP addresses in section 2.4.3, and Appendix A of the CSFH report. Does the HSC deny this?
  • In 1993, the HSC claimed that it became fully independent of the Sangh. Yet, in December 1995, the HSC was an invited participant at the Vishva Sangh Shibir (Global Sangh Training Camp). According to the press release of the organizers of that camp, “all its delegates were from several affiliated organizations of RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh], which operate abroad as Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Sewa International, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Hindu Students Council, Friends of India Society International, etc.,” and the camp was “conducted on RSS ideology for NRI [non-resident Indians] workers.” CSFH challenges the National HSC leadership to comment on how it gained access to the sanctum sanctorum of an RSS shibir without being a member of the Sangh.
  • Despite all disavowals by the HSC leadership about their relationship to the Sangh, the VHP of America, has repeatedly, and most recently in 2003, said that the HSC was its project. Here is an extract from an archived VHPA page from 2003: “The programs and projects are defined by the local community needs within the broad framework of the Parishad mission. The ongoing projects are: Hindu Student Council: It is the youth wing of VHP-A functioning in 50 universities and colleges in the USA.” Given the official HSC position that it severed all links with VHPA in 1993, this amounts to a minimum of ten years of deception. Does the HSC deny that this link existed at least until 2003 officially? The VHP-A website still lists the HSC as an Organizational Component that it facilitates and promotes. Is the VHP-A website also based on inaccuracies and outdated information?

There are many more such examples in our report. The fact is that M/s Bhutada and Trivedi of the HSC National (who issued the HSC’s press release) are still trying to hide the connections between the HSC and Sangh. “The National HSC’s inability to contest even a single piece of evidence outlined in the report is nothing but an attempt to cover up with a hope that the chapters will not ask too many questions” said Ashwini Rao, a CSFH coordinator. “The report” he continued, “is spot on!” The HSC National leadership does not owe the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate any explanation. It owes its members in all the universities across North America an explanation as to why these affiliations were not revealed to them and why their futures were being endangered by associating them with an extremist group of organizations. We would urge members of every HSC chapter across the US and Canada who was not aware of these links to demand an explanation of the National HSC. The members of HSC who were not told about these connections were certainly duped.

One other matter raised in the HSC press release deserves comment. The HSC National leadership accuses CSFH of insensitivity in launching such a campaign at a moment when they are busy offering solidarity to the Virginia Tech HSC chapter after the tragic events of April 16. We find this diversionary tactic most hypocritical, for the HSC has stood by in stony silence after each riot carried out by its sister organizations in India. In 1993, the HSC rationalized and celebrated the destruction of the Babri mosque (and the anti-Muslim violence that followed) as “the beginning of the new age of Hindu Renaissance, a new Hindu Revolution”. Again, after the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, the National HSC promptly (and rightly) called for apprehending the perpetrators of the Godhra carnage, but was understandably silent about justice for the families of the more than 2000 Muslims massacred in what was probably the worst carnage since 1947. In fact, in the post-genocide days, the National HSC was busy oiling the machinery of the Sangh’s global propaganda network (by maintaining the electronic infrastructure of the Sangh). Is the National HSC not complicit in the cover up that has ensued since 2002?

CSFH urges a public debate and discussion on this within the South Asian community, especially among Hindu-American youth, whose trust has been betrayed by the National HSC leadership. There could be no better starting point for a collective sorting out of the truth from the lies than with the HSC national leadership answering the challenges to the three very concrete and specific points we have raised above. The LyR report is replete with such evidence and if needed CSFH will break this down release-by-release for the benefit of the Indian-American community.

Lying Religiously: The Hindu Students Council and the Politics of Deception

April 15, 2007

Dear Friends,

Greetings! The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate announces the launch of our new report on the Hindu Students Council (HSC): “Lying Religiously: The Hindu Students Council and the Politics of Deception“. The report brings together evidence from multiple sources to demonstrate a web of connections between the HSC and the violent, ultra-right Sangh family (the RSS family of organizations, also referred to as the Sangh Parivar), and exposes the deliberate efforts of the HSC leadership to conceal its links with the Sangh family in order to deceive Hindu-American college students. The report provides the first comprehensive documentation of the origins, methods and practices of the HSC.

The report, released at the 2007 Organizing Youth Conference held in New York City from April 13-15, was enthusiastically received by desi youth (second-generation youth of South Asian origin) at the conference. Some of them have joined us in our campaign to get the truth out about the HSCs.

Summary
The HSC was started as a project of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America in 1990. In the initial years, the HSC openly acknowledged (or at least, made no efforts to hide) its links with the VHP of America, supported the political projects of VHP in India, such as the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and backed the VHP’s Hindu nationalist stance on Kashmir. Today, however, acknowledgment of these explicit links has vanished, and HSC projects itself as a “tolerant, liberal” organization devoted largely to the religious/cultural cause of refashioning Hindu tradition to the contemporary situation of Hindus in the United States. However, the denial of explicit connections with the Sangh family is at best only a facade erected by the HSC, especially if we look at moments of crisis, planning and celebration in the Sangh family. Rather than the beginnings of a trajectory of separation from the Sangh family, we actually see an integration of the HSC into the Sangh family as a full and equal partner.

A note on methodology
Similar to The Foreign Exchange of Hate, 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.

The report is supplemented by three appendices.

Over the last two decades, HSCs have worked to normalize a narrow brand of upper-caste Hinduism on university campuses across the US. A generation of Hindu and non-Hindu students (as well as university administrators) have come to think of HSCs as apolitical, cultural organizations that allow Hindu students to connect with their roots. But it is exactly this normalization of a certain type of Hinduism that allows for multiple expressions of Hindutva – on the one hand through seemingly benign organizations that claim to be service-oriented, such as Indicorps, and on the other it enables some within the HSC fold to become more open about their affiliation to Hindutva. As it gains confidence, it is possible that both HSC national, in as much as it is in charge of the electronic infrastructure for the entire Sangh, and local HSC chapters that are fully mature could openly associate with Hindutva (as done by the HSC at the University of Washington, which went from a Hindu Students Council to a student chapter of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh to Hindu Yuva — a project of the HSS).

The Collective urges you to forward the report widely, and write about it for your local newspaper or for a popular publication of your choice. We look forward to hearing back from you (at hsctruthout@gmail.com).

In solidarity,
Campaign to Stop Funding Hate