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Thursday, 30 December, 2004

UN asks US donors to send cash not bread/blankets

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Relief groups have some friendly advice for people who want to lend a helping hand to desperate tsunami survivors: Don't donate that old sweater or a loaf of bread. Just send cash.


"People call up and say, 'Can we send a loaf of bread?' We received donations of high heel shoes for East Timor, and that's really not going to help," said Caroline Green of aid group Oxfam International.

More here in this AlertNet article.
6 Comments Post a Comment
Blogger neha said :

Tsunami aid in Connecticut, USA: contact Madhu Reddy at madhu@bharatus.com or +1 860 918 2921. The URL for their website is www.idrf.com. Snail mail address: India Develpment Relief Fund, 257 Paxton Way, Glastonbury, CT 06033.

Fri Dec 31, 12:02:00 am IST  
Blogger neha said :

Sorry...the URL is www.idrf.org

Fri Dec 31, 12:11:00 am IST  
Anonymous Anonymous said :

Lose weight and Donate!

Fitness expert to the stars is donating 50% of his profits to UNICEF when you purchase his fitness tips for only $9.99.


Fri Dec 31, 12:24:00 am IST  
Blogger Taran said :

Well, aside from the lovely comment spam - which highlights the importance of this particular post - I'll just add that if the cash is sent, it allows the Red Cross and other emergency aid agencies to adapt to circumstances.

If people need food, they can buy food. If people need water, they can get water. Pharmaceuticals, shelter... this is common sense in dealing with these sorts of things, but the average person only seems to think of what they are willing to give up.

Like their old high heel shoes.

Fri Dec 31, 02:10:00 am IST  
Blogger someone else said :

Please consider carefully before giving money to IDRF. See: http://www.stopfundinghate.org/resources/atdfaq.htm

1.Why are you trying to prevent IDRF, HSS, VHPA and Sewa International from raising money for Tsunami relief?

We are not "trying to prevent" anyone from donating to any organization they wish to give their money to. We just want donors to know that by contributing to the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF) or other organizations such as the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Sewa International (SI, not to be confused with Seva Foundation) or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), they are in effect providing funds to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (sometimes translated as National Volunteer Corps, but most commonly referred to as the RSS). Now the RSS is not just any sectarian organization, but one that actively spreads anti-minority hatred, has immense reach in India, and a long history of fomenting violence against religious and cultural minorities in India [[1]].

If donors are interested in ensuring that (a) all people affected by the tsunami receive relief and rehabilitation support, irrespective of their particular caste, religion or cultural affiliation, and that (b) relief and rehabilitation work is not used to create long-term divisions and animosity by manipulating communities already made vulnerable by this catastrophe, THEN giving money to sectarian organizations such as the RSS would indeed be a very bad idea. On the other hand, by giving to organizations that have a track record of being transparent and free of the politics of hate, donors would ensure that their money is used to help people and communities based on their needs rather than based on what their religious beliefs or caste affiliations happen to be. But of course, if you agree with the RSS' agenda of creating long term communal/caste divisions in the guise of providing relief, we are not the ones you eventually have to answer to.

2.But IDRF is raising money for many different organizations. Do you mean to say that all of these organizations are affiliated to the RSS?

No. Of the long list of Indian organizations that IDRF purports to support, only Sewa Bharati (TN and Kerala), Jana Sankshema Samiti and Vivekananda Kendra are clearly identified as RSS affiliates. In which case, you may well ask, why do we claim that IDRF raises money for the RSS? For that, let's take a look at IDRF's history.

a) CSFH has documented that from the years 1994 to 2000, IDRF raised over $4 million for more than 180 groups. These groups included a whole spectrum of organizations, including some that were secular. However, IDRF chose to disburse over 80% of the funds in its control to RSS groups [[2]]. A long list of non-RSS organizations by itself is meaningless if the bulk of the funds are
going to go to member organizations of the Sangh [[3]].

b) Orissa cyclone, 1999: Right after the Orissa cyclone, IDRF raised money for 18 different organizations of which only 3 were prominent RSS affiliated groups (Sookruti, Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti and Bhau Rao Deoras Rashtriya Seva Nyas). However, of the $410,700 that IDRF disbursed for relief and rehabilitation efforts following the cyclone, just these 3 RSS affiliates together received over 40% of the funds ($163,000) [[4]].

c) Gujarat Earthquake, 2001: At the time of this disaster, IDRF raised $1,352,940 for 17 different groups. However, in this case again, just one organization -- RSS's main service front, Sewa Bharati -- got over 56% ($760,000) of the total earthquake funds [[5]].

With this history, we can only surmise that this time too, a disproportionately large share of IDRF's funds will go to Sewa Bharati and other RSS-affiliates. From the very beginning, IDRF has focused almost exclusively on the Sangh groups, listing them in its first press release and then publishing Sewa Bharati reports on its website on a nearly daily basis, each extolling readers to donate to Sewa Bharati. All of this lends credibility to our claims that IDRF is seeking to line the coffers of the RSS with this disaster as well.

3. What is wrong with the Sewa Bharati?

Before we go into that, it is useful to note that the RSS, the apex organization of the Sangh Parivar, [[6] lacks the most rudimentary features of a legitimate public organization in India, such as being registered with the government, having a bank account, or filing tax returns. Although it is all over the public space in India, organizationally, the RSS prefers to remain secretive and shadowy and operates in large part through front organizations run by trained swayamsevaks. [[7]] As mentioned in the response to question 2 above, Sangh organizations such as the IDRF have a history of using tragedies to raise funds for RSS activities in India.

That Sewa Bharati is an RSS affiliate is undeniable. Besides the fact that Sewa Bharati Tamil Nadu is housed in the same office as the Southern Region branch of the RSS, [[8]] it is also the RSS' preferred vehicle for Sewa (service) activities. For instance, if you go to the RSS' homepage (www.rss.org) and click the tab for its Sewa activity, the organization you land with is Sewa Bharati. Elsewhere, the RSS openly declares Sewa Bharati as its main service organization. [[9]] Given all this, IDRF's privileging of Sewa Bharati comes as no surprise.

While Sewa Bharati officially claims its "thrust areas" to be education, health and self help, a brief glance at some of the material published by the RSS [[10]] itself shows that Sewa Bharati's fundamental mission is that of Hinduization. We must be clear that Hinduization, Islamization or Christianization, has nothing to do with relief, rehabilitation or development and should not even be a side effect. Unfortunately, with the RSS, this is often the main effect.

In Madhya Pradesh, where Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (a Sangh organization implicated in the Gujarat pogroms [11]]) and Sewa Bharati Madhya Pradesh were the biggest beneficiaries of IDRF [[12]], the Madhya Pradesh government banned Sewa Bharati for its involvement in the violence against the Christian minority. [13]] Sewa Bharati has also been banned for planning to "stir racial hatred" in Ayodhya. [[14]]

Given its dubious past, it's clear that any donations to Sewa Bharati will, far from helping the victims of the current disaster, only sow the seeds for a future disaster.

4. Aren't the Tamil Nadu fisherfolk communities largely Christian? What influence can the Sangh have there?

That is exactly where the problem lies. It is true that there is a very significant dalit Christian population among the effected communities, but the Sangh, through its Tamil Nadu front - The Hindu Munnani - has been trying to divide that community along religious lines for the last decade. The Hindu Munnani is most active in Tamil Nadu amongst the fisherfolk communities.

With the funds coming to the Sangh in the name of disaster relief, the Munnani will be able to launch aggressive campaigns against the dalit Christians and the Sangh would have created a new potentially explosive situation just as it did so successfully in Orissa and Gujarat.

Do we want the situation in Kutch to be reproduced in coastal Tamil Nadu? (such as rebuilding temples and crematoriums and not rebuilding mosques and churches; such as discriminating against Dalits and Muslims in the rebuilding of houses). More importantly, the problem has never been of a single instance of discrimination. With such discriminatory use of resources, the RSS entered these villages in Kutch and established itself there with a consolidated power base. This meant that from then on, the RSS, could as part of the daily life of the village mount an aggressive campaign against the minorities, culminating sometimes in open threats and violence.

5.Why are you against Hindu organizations and not against Muslim/Christian groups? (After all, Catholic Relief Services has gotten the largest relief package going.)

We are not against Buddhist or Christian or Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or any other religious organizations. We are ONLY against organizations that use religious and caste ideology to foment hatred and violence, and the Sangh is the worst offender in this regard.

Various religious bodies, including temple, mosque and church-based groups, are doing tremendous work in the tsunami effected areas without differentiating between followers of different faiths. In fact we believe that when a catastrophe like the tsunami happens, groups centered around places of worship have more immediate access to the communities they are based in, and are sometimes able to deliver immediate relief faster than anybody else. In contrast, groups like the RSS use these crisis moments instrumentally to spread hate, anger and the fear of other communities.

While we agree that it is important to oppose all such organizations, not least the fundamentalist Christian and Muslim groups, who wait in the wings to pounce whenever tragedy strikes, it is far more important to confront and expose the RSS in India because it is exponentially more powerful than any other such exclusionist organization.

6. OK fine, the IDRF is part of the Sangh and the Sangh is violent at times. But they also do good work during crises such as this tsunami, so why should I not support them in their good work? Are you not obstructing the relief and rehabilitation of people who have been hurt by trying to prevent IDRF, HSS, VHPA and Sewa International from getting donations for the Tsunami relief?

We should not let ourselves get fooled by the false dichotomy of "good work" versus "bad work." The fact is, as explained above, the Sangh becomes particularly active when natural disasters strike, because it sees natural disasters as golden opportunities to gain a hold over communities undergoing tremendous human suffering by performing "good work." It then stays around and slowly destroys the soul of the community by continually injecting its poison of divisions and hatreds that eventually explode in violence.

Not giving money to the Sangh is in no way going to obstruct the relief and rehabilitation of any of the communities suffering from the destruction wrought by the tsunami. Please remember that the Sangh does not provide any particular access to any of these communities; there are a host of grass-roots groups who not only have transparent operations and secular values, but also have a long history of working with these communities and do not manipulate or use a crisis situation to advance sectarian agendas. Donors can find lists of agencies at many sites, including at CSFH's site (www.stopfundinghate.org), of US-based organizations connected to such grass-roots operations in India. The list provided by CSFH is just a small sample of such groups and includes organizations that have a wide range of people at their helm--from former US President Clinton to business executives to development activists--and are able to deliver relief without sowing the seeds of hatred. We do not recommend any particular agency or organization, donors must choose the ones they are most comfortable with, but we are certainly saying that the organizations we list, and we cannot stress this enough, will not create conditions of hatred and violence, unlike those affiliated to the RSS.

Wed Jan 05, 08:35:00 pm IST  
Anonymous Anonymous said :

* "The Hindu organizations most responsible for violence against Christians are the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP), the Bajrang Dal,and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, RSS). According to a former RSS member, these groups cannot be divorced from the ruling BJP party: "There is no difference between the BJP and RSS. BJP is the body. RSS is the soul, and the Bajrang Dal is the hands for beating."
[ http://www.hrw.org/press/1999/sep/christians.htm ]

* "The groups most directly involved in the violence against Muslims include the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP), the Bajrang Dal, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that heads the Gujarat state government. Collectively, they are known as the sangh parivar, or family of Hindu nationalist organizations."
[ http://www.hrw.org/press/2002/04/gujarat.htm ]

As evidence of IDRF-funded RSS-indoctrination, see

In case you don't identify the two thugs on this photo, they're the same as those on http://www.rss.org

Sun Jan 09, 03:12:00 pm IST