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Lying Religiously (a report on the Hindu Students Council)

by Campaign to Stop Funding Hate Sunday, Apr. 22, 2007 at 1:01 AM
hsctruthout@gmail.com

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.

Dear Friend,

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:

* Appendix A describes the Global Hindu Electronic Network (GHEN) maintained by the HSC. The GHEN houses some of the most notable Hindutva oriented organizational /activist / ideological websites on the web, including www.rss.org, www.organiser.org, www.Idrf.org and www.Sewainternational.org

* Appendix B is a primer on the RSS.

* Appendix C documents in brief the Sangh's regressive views on caste, gender and sexuality -- some of it also shared by the HSC, though expressed differently -- and its contempt for the pluralistic traditions of Hinduism.

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).

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

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