A Factual Response to the Hate Attack on the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF)
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III. IDRF SISTER ORGANIZATIONS

A. Single-Teacher Schools

The Sabrang/FOIL report bases its conclusions about the education imparted in the Ekal Vidyalaya (single-teacher schools) and Sewa Bharati schools on second hand reports written by ideological opponents of the RSS.  For example, about the Ekal Vidyalayas, the report says:

“This is a scheme started by the VHP to indoctrinate students in remote villages (tribal villages).  Different Sangh organizations have raised money for this scheme and help in the administration of the schools.  Some of them are the Bharat Kalyan Pratishthan, Swami Vivekananda Rural Development Society, Friends of Tribal Society, and the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram—all of which have been funded by the IDRF.  Recently, the Ekal Vidyalay Foundation has been set up as an independent organization, but still remains under the control of Dr. B. K. Modi, the current president of the VHP-Overseas. 

While the stated purpose of the schools is eradication of illiteracy in remote areas, the One Teacher Schools are heavily involved in spreading Hindutva ‘education’ with a focus on stopping conversions to Christianity and encouraging ‘reconversions’ to Hinduism.  The VHP advances the doctrine that Indian society is in grave danger from Christianity, and hence it is necessary to counter the moves of missionaries to ‘save’ the nation.  A senior VHP functionary claims, “Ekal vidyalayas can best counter the designs of the Church because they impart education based on Hindu samskara [culture]”.  VHP’s secretary-in-charge of Gujarat and Rajasthan, Mahendra Bhat, also asserts that Ekal Vidyalays impart the ‘Hindu way of life’ till the third class [grade] and that the focus on tribal areas is ‘necessary if we have to save the tribals from being misguided and influenced by foreign missionaries.  ’”

Ekal Vidyalaya has prominent people on its board of trustees.  They include Dr. B. K. Modi, founder chairperson of ModiCorp; Justice P. N. Bhagawati, former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India; Dr. L.  M.  Singhvi, Member of Parliament and former Indian Ambassador to the United Kingdom; Dr. Abid Hussain[18], former Ambassador to the United States and a member of the Constitution Review Committee; Sucheta Kapuria, industrialist and Managing Trustee, EVFA (Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, America); and Dr. Basant Tariyal, Telecommunications Consultant, and former Vice President of Optical Products, Lucent Technologies, U.S.

Let us now see what exactly goes on in these Ekal Vidyalayas, and what kind of education is actually imparted in these single-teacher schools.  In a recent article in India Currents (an Indian-American monthly published from San Francisco, U.S.A.  Not to be confused with a Christian magazine of similar name published from India), Radhika Sharma writes the following about the single-teacher schools.  We present below selected excerpts from Sharma’s article to show how slanted, and even warped the Sabrang/FOIL conclusions are about these schools.  The complete article can be found in Appendix D. 

“The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of India (EVFI) is one such concept that hopes to empower young tribal children in India through education.  The premise of EVFI is “Ek Shikshak, Ek Vidyalaya,” which means “one teacher for every school.”  Founded 15 years ago, by Shyamjee Gupta, EVFI focuses attention on tribals and tries to bring non-formal education within their reach.  Currently EVFI is running over 8,000 schools in remote and tribal villages all over India and hopes to reach a target of 100,000 schools by the year 2010. 

Ekal Vidyalayas offer five years of free non- formal education to village children aged 5-14 years in groups of 30 to 40.  For every school a local teacher is identified.  An organizer is assigned for each cluster of 10 schools.  The teachers are locally educated youths who have passed grades 8 or 9 and have been trained specifically for the purpose.  Many NGOs are also closely connected with the functioning of these vidyalayas.  These village schools also serve the ancillary function of a meeting point for the entire community wherein ideas regarding health and better lifestyle are discussed.

Classes are held under a tree or in a hut and lessons are taught through different modes like kathas (story telling sessions), nataks (dramas), lok-geets (folk songs), and pravachans (religious discourses), etc.  This informality induces even the errant students to turn up for class.  The curriculum is designed by educationalists to cater to special local needs and is taught in the regional language of the state.  It includes alphabetic and numerical knowledge as well as moral education.  The girl child is also well represented: 50 percent of the students and teachers are female.  About 20 percent of all students go on to higher education and some of them eventually return to serve the organization that helped their growth.”

It is important to note that the Sabrang/FOIL authors, sitting in Connecticut, New Jersey, and California, did not bother to talk to anyone directly involved with Ekal Vidyalayas before arriving at their warped conclusion.  In contrast, Ms. Sharma not only quotes Shyamjee Gupta, the founder and national coordinator of Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of India (EVFI), but also presents voices of two more people involved with EVFI as volunteers. 

We contend that most reasonable people would believe what insiders to an organization know about it, rather than a group of people whose only objective is to shut the doors of about 8,000 schools in remote and tribal villages all over India.  Until recently these tribal areas and remote locations were open to anti-national activities of foreign forces and proselytizing agents.  Since the RSS began working in those areas, the response from the local people has been one of exhilaration and relief (See Appendix K).

There has been a concerted campaign against the Ekal Vidyalayas by a combination of media and academic networks.  But try as they might, they really cannot find anything wrong with the schools.  This is best showcased in an article in The New York Times, where the reporter seeks to demonize the organizations running these schools, and all that she can come up with as “evidence” is the following:

The nearly 300 boys here at the Sewa Dham school, most of them from what are called the tribal belts of central and northeastern India, hew to a rigorous daily schedule from 5 in the morning until 10 at night.  They learn Hindu chants in the ancient language, Sanskrit.  They are taught to give up their meat-eating ways and to become vegetarians.  They are regaled with tales of brave Hindu warriors and saints and quizzed on the ravages of the Muslim emperor, Babur[19].“

The reporter seeks to paint these schools similar to Muslim “madrassas” where only the Koran is taught and where children are urged to kill infidels.  That The New York Times lends credence to such far-fetched and poorly evidenced reports is one more indication of the demonization of the RSS by a combination of Indian and international forces.  Ironically, The New York Times has published a much more carefully evidenced report about Islamic madrassas[20]. 

See Appendix K for an additional impassioned report on the Ekal Vidyalaya schools and the work done by the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram. 

B. Vikasan Foundation

The Sabrang/FOIL report says this about the Vikasan Foundation:

This organization, started by the Hindu Seva Pratishthan and Jana Seva Vidya Kendra (both affiliated with the Sangh), claims to stand for the promotion of Indian culture in India and abroad.  However, like all Sangh organizations, it conflates ‘Indian’ culture with its version of ‘Hindu/Vedic’ culture, completely negating the concept of a syncretic Indian identity that has been influenced by many religions.  Vikasan collects money for funding some gurukuls (Hindu religious schools, equivalent of the Islamic madrassas) in India and also organizes the Teen Hindu Heritage Camps in India for teenagers of Indian descent who have largely grown up outside the country.  As the detailed program of this camp suggests, there is a heavy influence of the RSS organizations on the curriculum at this camp.”

Note that the authors have equated gurukulas with Islamic madrassas.  While numerous reports in the Indian and international media have exposed the true nature of many Islamic madrassas as being schools for training Islam-inspired terrorism, Prof. Ramesh Rao writes the following about gurukulas in an article on Sulekha.com:

“…recently, there has been a new interest in creating educational systems that allow for the healthy and holistic development of the child.  A number of gurukulas have sprung up, and in the present day gurukula system, the spiritual and intellectual preceptors seek to pave the way for such holistic and integral development of the child/youth.  They seek to recover the guru-shishya relationship which is based on trust, devotion, and a mutuality of affection between the teacher and the students.  And in the gurukulas that I visited, no child or his/her parents are asked their caste affiliation or background.[21]

Anyone who has followed the news, and has read or seen any coverage about Islamic madrassas knows that such “holistic and integral development of child/youth” is hardly the kind of thing students in madrassas experience.  One wonders what would make Sabrang/FOIL authors compare such gurukulas as the ones supported by Vikasan Foundation with madrassas. 

We now present some more excerpts from Rao’s article that was based on his visit to two gurukulas that Vikasan Foundation supports.  This is important because it emphasizes the point that what we present below is the ground reality about these gurukulas as opposed to the assumptions, conjectures, and concoctions put forward by Sabrang/FOIL authors.  The complete article by Rao can be found in Appendix E. 

“…The gurukulas seek to provide an all-round education that promotes physical well-being through the practice of yoga and the playing of a variety of Indian games (up to 200 of them), language learning through the study of Sanskrit, Kannada, and English, intellectual rigor through the learning of math and science, self-esteem and self-reliance through the washing of their own clothes (see below), and braiding of each other’s hair…

There are designated hours for self-learning, and the love of nature is inculcated through walks in the forest, watering the garden every morning and evening, and labeling and recognizing trees, flowers, birds, herbs, and insects.  Students acquire a deep and healthy sense of patriotism and strong leadership qualities from evening discussions, talks by visiting teachers and leaders, and the evening ritual of ‘samiti praarthane’ (see below)…

… Students are free from the hassles of examinations and tests.  However, the students are evaluated in a unique way: they themselves prepare questions and tests on material they have learnt and write the answers and circulate it amongst themselves for evaluation.  The teachers clear any doubts they may have.  The process of self-evaluation is done periodically and after their six-year stay at the gurukula they are free to continue their higher education through university level correspondence courses, etc…

… the three gurukulas in Karnataka run by the Hindu Seva Prathistan go well beyond the training imparted in traditional gurukulas. They do this in an inexpensive and non-elitist environment in stark contrast to westernized and snobbish institutions of learning.  These gurukulas incorporate lifestyle and cultural agendas, including the nurturing of a strong sense of patriotism, that are aimed at molding a strong, happy, intelligent, and disciplined citizen who believes and leads a simple lifestyle.”

The Sabrang/FOIL authors would like to close down such institutions that work towards helping children become happy, intelligent, and disciplined citizens.  Their agenda is to put an end to the educational journeys of thousands of Indian children who attend these gurukulas. 

C. Yoga Bharati & Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation

The Sabrang/FOIL report describes these as:

Yoga Bharati and Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation (the latter currently goes by the name of sVYASA—Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhan Samstha): These organizations have allegedly been created to provide training in yoga.  Yoga Bharati is a subsidiary of the IDRF while sVYASA is an independent organization headquartered in Bangalore.  Nevertheless, these organizations work together, share instructors, advisors, and teaching material.  Besides, Yoga Bharati (and the IDRF by extension) collects funds for sVYASA’s research efforts.  However, as with all Sangh Parivar organizations, the yoga education is suffused with the Hindutva philosophy.  Thus, Yoga Bharati invites David Frawley, a well-known Hindutva ideologue, to speak at its Bay Area event, while its Yoga Training Camp has drawn speakers from allied Sangh foundations such as Samskrit Bharati and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh. 

sVYASA, an offshoot of the Vivekananda Kendra and Rock Memorial, Kanyakumari, helps organize RSS training camps in India and abroad for international audiences — camps which actively propagate Hindutva, the supremacy of Hinduism and the revisionist history of India.”

Let us now look at the facts.  Yes, David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri) is a “Hindutva” ideologue, in the sense that he is an articulate speaker on Hindu values, culture, and history.  Frawley is a successful teacher of yoga and ayurveda, and is the author of numerous books on Indian civilization, Aryan Invasion Theory, yoga, and ayurveda.  And yes, he supports the work of the RSS and its affiliates.  Frawley, an American has lectured at the University of California, Berkeley, writes for Yoga Journal, and conducts correspondence courses for students around the world.  Those interested in his work can find information at http://www.vedanet.com/

Other than David Frawley, Yoga Bharati’s advisers, instructors, and speakers include experts in yoga, ayurveda, etc. from both India and the U.S. Below we present detailed information about some of the experts involved with sVYASA and Yoga Bharati:

1.      N. V. Raghuram is the international coordinator and yoga trainer at sVYASa.  Raghuram of sVYASA has trained under some of the most renowned exponents of yoga in India and has been practicing yoga for more than 20 years.  He has traveled to several countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, USA, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Singapore, and conducted yoga therapeutic and corrective courses (for ailments such as bronchitis, asthma, back ache, eating disorders, sleep disorders etc.).  At Bangalore, he is involved in training certified yoga instructors and also in assisting various doctoral students in their research on yoga and related subjects. 

 

2.      Krishna Marathe is one of the senior therapists from the Vivekananda Yoga Research Kendra, Bombay.  He was a computer professional who has now turned into a yoga therapist after he cured himself of Addison’s disease in which he had complete failure of adrenal glands.  He has continued his research on yoga as an alternative system of healing with the facilities made available by hospitals in Bombay.  He is actively involved in counseling and therapy training for a variety of ailments including arthritis, asthma, AIDS, cancer, and cardio vascular dysfunctions. 

 

3.      Pratichi Mathur is a renowned Ayurvedic practitioner and founder/owner of Ganesha Institute in Los Altos, California.  As a native of India and fourth-generation Vedantist, Pratichi’s mission is to share the healing wisdom of Ayruveda internationally.  Pratichi received her training under Dr. P.  H.  Kulkarni – the well-known Ayurvedic physician, and professor of Ayurveda at the University of Poona.  In addition, she completed postgraduate studies in Ayurveda and Pancha Karma at the Ayurveda Academy in India. 

Pratichi Mathur offers traditional Ayurvedic therapy and education.  Her style of treatment remains classic, based upon Ayurvedic texts and ancient modalities.  The Ganesha Institute was created to offer a full range of authentic services in Ayurveda.  It is Pratichi’s vision that her clients be able to access true and classic Ayurveda.

 

4.      Dr. Naras Bhat is a physician, board-certified in Internal Medicine Immunology, and also certified in Metabolic Cardiology and Stress Management.  He currently teaches at the University of California, Berkeley and was a professor of behavioral medicine at Rosebridge College of Integrative Psychology.  Dr. Bhat is the author of the internationally known book, How to Reverse and Prevent Heart Disease and Cancer.  He also wrote a course book for his U.C. Berkeley class, Unlearning Test Anxiety and Stress, and produced two popular videos, Uprooting Anger and Meditation Prescription. 

Born in India and educated in the West, Dr. Bhat connects Eastern disciplines with Western high-tech medicine using computer feedback systems known as cybernetics.  Dr. Bhat is the founder and director of the Cybernetix Medical Institute, located in Concord, California.  His active stress and heart disease reversal clinic has training programs for patients, physicians, and health care workers.  Dr. Bhat has done extensive research on how stress affects the heart from the perspective of heart-centered physiology, called cardio-neuro-immunology.  This work focuses on how the heart rate and blood pressure are changed by emotions, such as anger or love.  Dr. Bhat’s work has been cited in Time Magazine, Cardiology Today, Business Week, The Contra Costa Times, and The San Francisco Examiner. 

 

5.      His Holiness Swami Bodhananda Saraswati got his spiritual calling at an early age and embarked on his mission of teaching in 1978.  In 1984, he was initiated into sanyas[22] and in 1988 he was offered the honor of setting up a teacher training facility, Sandeepani, in Kerala.  Many of his students have become accomplished teachers and religious leaders.  Swami Bodhananda is an acclaimed authority on Vedanta, and unfolds the answer to the question “Who am I?” in his discourses, interviews, lectures, classes, and counselling sessions. 

Swami Bodhananda is the Spiritual Founder and Director of 11 organizations and ashrams under the umbrella of the Sambodh Foundation.  Sambodh and its organizations in India have taken up well-defined projects and organize a wide variety of programs which includes social service centres, home for the aged, a centre for Vedic Studies (Vedic and Management Studies Centre), research foundation for management and leadership studies, an institution to train students in the ancient wisdom of Vedas, Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali Yoga Sutras. 

 

6.      Swami Muktidharma is a holistic yoga therapist and trained teacher in the Satyananda Yoga tradition.  He has 30 years of experience in yoga and has spent 16 years working in India with his teacher, Paramahansa Satyananda. Satyananda Yoga combines classical hatha, raja, karma, bhakti, jnana, mantra, kriya, kundalini, and other branches of yoga based on the ancient philosophies of Samkhya, Vedanta and Sannyasa. Bihar Yoga Bharati, a center for learning and research on yoga, was started under the guidance of Paramahansa Satyananda Saraswati. 

The impressive and diverse academic and professional backgrounds of these experts challenge the baseless conclusions of the Sabrang/FOIL authors that “yoga education is suffused with the Hindutva philosophy”.  As seen above, those involved with sVYASA and Yoga Bharati are scholars and practitioners in a broad range of fields, but none of them propagate “Hindutva philosophy” in the manner that Sabrang/FOIL authors define Hindutva at the beginning of their report. 

Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation (or sVYASA), which the Sabrang/FOIL report cursorily dismisses as advocating “Hindutva”, is engaged in a variety of research projects.  This is evident from the long list of research papers, journal articles, and conference presentations by the scholars involved with this organization[23]. 

 

D. Samskrit Bharati

The Sabrang/FOIL report claims that,

“This organization works for the promotion of the Sanskrit language and is identified as a ‘Branch’ by the RSS.  According to the RSS website, “The Sangh has formed the Samskrita Bharati, which through several thousand speak Sanskrit camps have taught people to speak the ‘language of the gods’ sufficient for their daily use in just ten days”.  In the US, this organization runs Sanskrit training programs and camps, where it not only imparts language training, but also a heavy dose of the Sangh ideology.  It also participates in camps and functions organized by other Sangh Parivar groups in this country.” 

Sanskrit has functioned as the basic vehicle of classical Indian literature for more than 3000 years.  It is one of the world’s great classical languages, and Sanskrit literature is both more numerous and rich than the literature in other classical languages.  It is still a living language in the sense that it is the “language of ritual, worship, and prayer” for Hindus, and Sanskrit is now being revived successfully as a spoken language, and as a technical language.  It is the key to a first-hand understanding of the vast field of classical Hindu religion and philosophy, being the language of the Vedas and Upanishads, the great epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (which includes the Bhagavadgita), and the texts of Vedanta and Yoga.

Sanskrit is an important language for the study of Buddhism too, and experts claim that knowledge of Sanskrit is indispensable for the student of comparative philology.  It also possesses a rich secular literature, embracing court poetry, drama, and romance.  Knowledge of Sanskrit opens the way to a direct appreciation of the achievements of the classical civilization of India in such fields as aesthetic theory, linguistics, law and political theory, medicine, mathematics and astronomy. 

Is Sanskrit a “language of the gods?”  Biju Mathew and his fellow ideologues use that phrase in quotes to claim that it is merely the RSS that makes such claims about Sanskrit.  We wonder what Mathew would have to say about the teaching of Latin and Greek in Europe and America, as well as in seminaries all over the world. 

The debate about the antiquity of Sanskrit, and about the nature of the language are far too many to summarize here, except to say that Sanskrit is now considered one of the most “exact” and “perfect” of languages.  Sir William Jones (1746-1794) who, as president of the Asiatic Society, which he founded in 1784, said that the “Sanscrit (sic) language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin and more exquisitely refined than either.”[24]  Also, “scientifically, Sanskrit is a perfect, sound based language.  Its consonants form five blocks - dentals, labials, cerebrals, velar, and palatal.  It has 41 consonants and 13 vowels.  It has a number of combinations of consonants, about 84 of them exist, and each of them need to be defined in the font for a complete representation.  Another characteristic of Sanskrit is the use of post-consonantal forms of the vowels.  Unlike the Roman script, a vowel used after a consonant changes form and gets attached to the consonant.”[25] 

Biju Mathew, who started a group when he was at the University of Pittsburgh called “Sanskriti,” and the other collaborators on the Sabrang/FOIL report, we believe may have little knowledge of Sanskrit, or little understanding of the impact of Sanskrit on Indian culture, society, and morès, and therefore, as members of the Indian Left, they seek to demonize Sanskrit as the language of the “upper castes and Brahmins.”  Accusing the RSS of fostering upper caste values, they now claim that the only use for Sanskrit is the “Hinduization” of tribal people.  Because Mathew and his collaborators may have little or no understanding of the richness, depth, and immense scientific and technical value of Sanskrit[26], they have to warp their presentation on Samskrit Bharati claiming that it imparts knowledge of Sanskrit with “a heavy dose of Sangh ideology.”

E. Sewa International

The authors of the Sabrang/FOIL report claim that,

“The basic focus of Sewa activity as coordinated by Sewa International is the various community activities taken on by the Sangh and the resulting spread of Sangh philosophy in different areas.  This clarity – where ‘development’ is merely the pretext for sectarian ideological training, is expounded in detail by H. V. Sheshadri, the ex-General Secretary of the RSS:  Our programmes and activities are but the outer form of our Sewakarya [service work].  The ultimate object of all these endeavours is Hindu Sangathan - consolidation and strengthening of the Hindu society’.  The key phrase in the above passage is ‘consolidation of Hindu society’ – indicating that there are many parts of Indian society that are at a distance from what the RSS defines as Hindu society.  It is to ‘convert’ these people who are ‘insufficiently Hindu’, that sewa karya is a cover for.  For instance, ‘Hindu consolidation’ very often happens through celebrating Hindu festivals such as Holi, Raksha Bandhan, Yugadi, Sankranti—all festivals described by the VHP, as those promoting Hindu consciousness and ‘national integration.’ “

A rational individual should therefore ask: Is being for something always being against something else?  Does loving your wife lead to hating other women?  Is loving your nation, an indication of hating other countries?   Is helping those closest to you an attempt at undermining others?  This logical fallacy perpetrated consciously, willfully, and vulgarly by sophists and political grandstanders should be condemned unequivocally by any sane reader of the Sabrang/FOIL report.  That many, including well-known “South Asia” experts have signed on to this mode of thinking shows the political leanings of “South Asia” experts in American universities. 

We have already pointed out that the Supreme Court of India has ruled that Hindutva and Hinduism constitute ways of living rather than the advocacy of a “religion” in the Western/Semitic/aggressive monotheistic sense.  That many Indians and “South Asia” experts have signed on to an understanding of Hinduism as a religion, like Christianity, shows the effects of Western/secular brainwashing on “South Asia” experts.  We are not surprised that Biju Mathew, an avowed Marxist, has a particular axe to grind against Hinduism.  What is shocking, however, is that journalists and academics have jumped on to the Marxist bandwagon without a thought for the political agenda of Biju Mathew and his collaborators. 

The Sabrang/FOIL report asserts that the VHP/RSS seek “Hindu consolidation through celebration of Hindu festivals”.  Yvette Rosser[27] of the University of Texas, Austin who recently traveled through North East India writes about the purported influence of the Vivekananda Kendra and the VHP in the tribal areas:

“I also visited a Dimasi village a few hours outside of Dimapur in Nagaland.  It is one of the few non-Christian villages in that neighborhood.  They received some funds from the Vivekananda Kendra to help transliterate their ancestral prayers.  I asked if the Vivekananda Kendra asked them to cry out “Bolo Rama” and urged them to give up their indigenous tradition and embrace Hinduism thereby leading to what Sabrang called the “disintegration” of Adivasi culture.  The Dimasi gentleman laughed and said that the Kendra had helped them to preserve their indigenous prayers.  They had recorded the old men of the village and transcribed it (Dimasis use Roman script) and made it available to all of the Dimasi villages.  His elderly mother said that over a hundred years ago the Americans came with the Kala Kitab (black book) and told them their Gods were satans, now they are proud to be Dimasis.  In the last years since they have received help from the Kendra, they have felt a feeling of pride in their own culture that was difficult to maintain when missionaries are always knocking on your door.  They also got some funds to help preserve an ancient Dimasi monument, a giant chess set associated with Bhima’s wife from the Maha Bharata, who was from that tribe. 

The Dimasi are not being coerced or disintegrated by the help they are receiving from the Vivekananda Kendra, which may include some funds from the IDRF.  They were wonderful people.  The village head told me that they decided to get organized when in the fall of 1999 there were dozens of huge prayer meetings warning people that Jesus was returning to earth on the new year.  Missionaries from different churches would go through all the villages on bicycles with bull-horns and tell people to come to the prayer meeting and be saved – to leave their old evil ways behind and be saved when the rapture comes on Dec. 31, 1999.  The headmaster’s daughter asked why they couldn’t have a prayer meeting and they did!  The next year they had a prayer meeting of all the Dimasi tribes with traditional dancing and singing.  They did this for two years and then they got some help in printing up the Dimasi prayer booklets.  It doesn’t take a media savvy genius to understand why FIACONA (Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of Northern America) would want to curtail such funds that support and strengthen indigenous traditions.  They become less easy to convert.”[28] 

After reading the Sabrang/FOIL report carefully, we believe neither Biju Mathew nor the co-authors of the Sabrang report seem to have traveled in North East India and understood the dynamics of hate and anti-national activities encouraged by Christian proselytizers, and Communist provocateurs.  They seem to have merely projected their hatred of the RSS and its affiliates by relying on reports by partisan proselytizers and lazy journalists. 

F. Bharat Vikas Parishad

About the Bharat Vikas Parishad, the Sabrang/FOIL authors claim:

“This is also listed by the RSS as one of its branches that is designed ‘to involve entrepreneurs and well off sections of the society in National service and for protecting Bhartiya values.’  While their stated task, that of removing discrimination from society, is noble indeed, their methodology of bringing about this change by imposing hierarchical upper caste Hindu values speaks volumes about the reality.  According to Vishwa Samvad Kendra, the public relations site of the Sangh Parivar, ‘They [Bharat Vikas Parishad] have adopted 60 seva vastis (Slums) for all round development.  They organize competitions on Ramayana and Mahabharata on All Bharat basis for school children.  They organize competitions for students in chorus singing of patriotic.  More than one lakh students participate annually in this competition.’ The President of Bharat Vikas Parishad is Justice Rama Jois, who is actively involved in the VHP movement for rebuilding a Hindu temple at the site of the 16th century Babri Mosque in Ayodhya that the VHP had demolished in 1992.” 

It is important to ask the question: What do Biju Mathew and his co-authors mean by “upper caste Hindu values”?  The next question would be: Do the authors of the Sabrang/FOIL report advocate the teaching of “lower caste Hindu values” or that a preference be made for “Maoist and Marxist values”?  The rather silly but constant demonization of “upper caste Hindus” is the hallmark of the Sabrang/FOIL report.  Nowhere do the authors acknowledge that the RSS has publicly proclaimed that it is against discrimination of people based on their caste.  Yet, the reciting of the verses from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are conflated with reciting something sectarian, violent, upper-caste, and discriminatory.  The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are two of the world’s great epics.  They are not religious treatises like the Bible and the Koran, and they don’t spread the message of aggressive monotheism and bloody carnage that some Christian and Muslim fundamentalists preach.[29]

As to the qualifications of M. Rama Jois, the former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Courts, the present Governor of Jharkand, and the chief advocate who argued in favor of considering Hindutva as a way of life, and whose arguments the Supreme Court of India countenanced, once again we see Biju Mathew and his co-authors presenting the partial truth, distorting that partial truth, and hiding the rest of the truth which would debunk their conclusion – that Rama Jois is merely a supporter of the building of a temple to Rama in Ayodhya on the site where the Babri Masjid stood. 

G. IDRF affiliates in India

For a state-wise listing of affiliate organizations see http://www.idrf.org   


[18] Since the Sabrang/FOIL authors constantly point out that their group includes Muslims and Christians, it is pertinent to note that Dr. Abid Hussain is a Muslim.  Would the Sabrang/FOIL authors then dismiss him as a “bad Muslim” because he supports and is affiliated with the Ekal Vidyalaya?

[19] Somini Sengupta, “Hindu Nationalists Are Enrolling, and Enlisting, India’s Poor”, The New York Times, May 13, 2002. 

[20] Saudi public school textbooks mandate hatred of non-Muslims, labeling them “infidels”, says Neil MacFarquhar in “Anti-Western and Extremist Views Pervade Saudi Schools,” The New York Times, October 19, 2001. 

[21]Gurukulas -- Where Students Aren't Merely Schooled,” Ramesh N.  Rao, Sulekha.com, April 13, 2001, http://www.sulekha.com/printer.  asp?cid=111795

[22] Sanyas generally means to renounce worldly life and lead the life of an ascetic.

[23] For a full list of their research program and published articles and conference presentations, see http://vkyogas.org.in/research.html

[24] R.  K.  Dasgupta, “Perfect Language”, The Statesman, June 25, 1999

[26]Panini methodology for secret defence codes”, Times News Network, December 28, 2002

[27] Yvetter Rosser first visited India in 1970 where she met her guru, Shri Neem Karoli Baba Maharaj.  She is an American citizen who appreciates India and whose focus transcends economic and strategic interests.  After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Asian Studies in 1981 (with honors) and teaching certifications in Social Studies and English, she returned to graduate school, receiving an M.A. in Asian Studies in 1997.  Her Ph.D. dissertation, in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, is a study of the politics of history in South Asia and looks at social studies textbooks in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, with a particular focus on the rewriting of history in India. 

[28] See Appendix K for Yvette Rosser’s full report

[29] Regina M.  Schwartz (1997).  The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism.  University of Chicago Press.

 

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