CSFH: Hindu Students Council is Another Arm of Sangh Parivar

In a meticulously-researched and well-documented new report titled Lying Religiously: The Hindu Students Council and the Politics of Deception, the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate has provided solid structural links between the Hindu Students Council (HSC) and the Hindu nationalist Sangh Parivar.

Before proceeding any further, I do want to say two important things:

1) If you are put off by the language/rhetoric in the first chapter, please do read on. The report goes on to lay out an irrefutable case, and it would be a shame to abandon it in the first few pages.

2) This report deals extensively with the central structure and leadership of the HSC without dealing much with individual chapters. I understand from having spoken with folks who are involved in campus branches of HSC that some chapters operate relatively autonomously. If you are a member/officer of a campus HSC branch, the report does not accuse all individual members or all individual chapters of being directly involved with Hindu nationalism or the Sangh.

There are, however, cases where the link with individual chapters is quite apparent. Take this undated press release from the University of Houston chapter of HSC on its reorganization. In the press release is a link to the following photo (click photo for larger version):

Notice someone who probably isn't a member? That's Ram Madhav, the national spokesman of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and this picture was probably taken during Madhav's tour of the US in Fall 2004.

I hope very much that students who are involved with HSC will take the time to read this report with an open mind and take a firm stance on whether or not this is the kind of organization with whose central leadership they want to be affiliated.

More about this relatively soon; if not from me then from someone else.

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Anonymous claims that perhaps

Anonymous claims that perhaps HSC members are enamored by the Sangh Parivar and thats all there is to it. I this distorts the report's serious claims that the HSC is A) ideologically TIED to the Sangh Parivar, and B) Institutionally a part of the Sangh Parivar.

The ideology is not just a result of some people having a liking for the RSS. It is about the HSC being nurtured from the beginning, by the VHP. Ashok Singhal's quote on this is damning:

"Now, the first project we have in mind is strengthening the Hindu Student Council, about 2000 members of which had participated in the conference. The second/third generation Hindu youth do not want to identify themselves with India because they are American citizens but they do not hesitate to call themselves Hindus. This is the generation which is going to throw up the leadership of the future. We therefore feel that they should be the focus of our attention. Our anxiety is that they should not be torn asunder from their own roots."

There are piles of evidence on this linkage. So to claim that HSC is only incidentally connected to the Sangh on account of some members having some sort of fascination for Hindutva is deceptive.


Maybe then, we could educate

Maybe then, we could educate and engage people on a broad scale, and those within HSC/RSS/CSFH/FOIL to ensure that their activities are leading to some sort of constructive resolution.

Ahh, the moderate revolution. There's always a call for it ;)

The difference between critiquing HSC/Sangh affiliations and FOIL/Indian left (whatever that is) affiliations is that no one has demonstrated any kind of tie between any groups in India that are actually engaged in violent leftism (naxal, etc.) with groups in the U.S. That, in fact, would be a productive response for people who want to stake a middle ground, but it simply hasn't been done. For example, people have critiqued Tamil nationalists in the United States for funding the LTTE.

Not that doing any of this makes things right or wrong--it simply establishes dialogue, friction, conversation, etc.

We need to thrash out the question of whether or not religion in India can be separated from politics (even in America for that matter), whether it can be addressed, and what sorts of political dynamics religion drives on the subcontinent / in the diaspora. OR, a non-partisan group, willing to put their names on a report, should write a more complete document on the influence of Indian political ideologies from all sides on supposedly apolitical institutions in America.

I don't think the opinions of American desis matter that much, except when they become weirdly invested in various facets of Indian or Sri Lankan or other politics and end up funding things like Hindutva or SEZs or such things. Nor should they, probably.

But to the extent that anyone wants to engage in such conversations, I think they happen through the former process of thrashing out rather than by hoping for some all-encompassing gorup that can parse everyone's politics and fairmindedly attribute responsibility for various things to appropriate actors. It's a social process, not an individual or organizational one.

Dr. A, I would agree with

Dr. A,

I would agree with you, but we need to thrash it out and put extreme positions where they are - extreme. Without the involvement of moderates, we get obsessed with extreme positions. At least we the ignorant moderates should understand who is talking, no?

I would agree with you, but

I would agree with you, but we need to thrash it out and put extreme positions where they are - extreme.

So go ahead.

I would start by reading Wallerstein.

The cease and desist letter

The cease and desist letter sent by the HSC to CSFH contains the following statement:

HSC makes no secret of its affiliations to various Hindu Organizations, including the VHP of America

Can we please now have discussion that does not include whether or not the HSC has links to the Hindu right, and instead concentrate on the morality/implications of those links?

[...] CSFH: Hindu Students

[...] CSFH: Hindu Students Council is Another Arm of Sangh Parivar Ethnography of an HSC Chapter: “Western University” Letter to a Young American Hindu, by Vijay Prashad Look, Ma, Pictures! [...]

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