They have identified that the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), a Maryland-based charity organisation established in 1989, has been a the key fund-raiser for the PARIVAR in the US. SFH says that the IDRF, which was set up to provide funds for `relief and development work’, has been funding RSS-initiated projects all over India.p>In 2000, around $1.7 million was channelled to Sangh Parivar organisations such as the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA), which has been linked with anti-minority violence. Between 1994 and 2000, the IDRF disbursed close to $4 million to Sangh Parivar organisations all over India.
Some other long-term recipients of IDRF funds include the Vikas Bharti (Bihar), the Swami Vivekananda Rural Development Society (Tamil Nadu), the Sewa Bharati (New Delhi), the Jana Seva Vidya Kendra (Karnataka), the Girivasi Vanvasi Sewa Prakalp (Uttar Pradesh) and the G. Deshpande Vanvasi Vastigrah (Maharashtra).
While organisations like the Sewa Bharati are openly identified with the RSS, others like the Swami Vivekananda Rural Development Society profess to work for the development of tribal people, though in reality they lay stress on teaching the tribal people the `Hindu way of life’. Collectively, these organizations have been supported by the IDRF since its establishment.
The SFH launched a `Project Saffron Dollar’ to check the activities of the IDRF. The group released a 91-page report titled “A Foreign Exchange of Hate: IDRF and the American Funding of Hate” in New Delhi.
The report reveals how the IDRF obtained considerable amounts from leading US technology companies such as Cisco, Sun Microsystems, AOL-Time Warner and Hewlett Packard and distributed it among RSS affiliates. While 83 per cent of the funds went to the RSS, the (VHP) and other Sangh Parivar organizations, only 2 per cent went to secular organizations.
When collecting money, the IDRF professes that it is doing so to `fund relief and development work’. Actually, the funds are distributed among RSS organizations dealing with reconversion programmes. For example, the IDRF’s website claims that it is a charity organization that has helped the victims of the Gujarat earthquake of 2001.
However, the fact remains that it used the funds to help only Hindu victims. The anti-minority stand of the IDRF is not new. In the past, IDRF in supporting organisations like the Sewa Bharati and the VKA, which is accused of using violence against Christians in Madhya Pradesh in 1998.
Biju Mathew, Professor of Information Systems at Rider University, said: “We are now disseminating the results of our investigations amongst the NRIs and US corporations. Our report clearly establishes the link between the IDRF and the RSS.”
How does the IDRF operate in the US ? The most active fund-raisers of the IDRF are the Indian migrants to the US, especially professionals working in the software sector. Such IDRF sympathisers encourage their companies to put the IDRF on the corporation’s list of grantees.
The swayamsewaks working in US corporations project the IDRF as the `best’ and the `only’ way to provide funds for `development and relief’ work in India.