NGOs as tools of containment
NGO activism is a perfectly crafted weapon of containment. Western nations have overtly and covertly funded and rewarded with ‘peace’ and ‘human rights’ awards to individuals and organisations taking up the cause of anti-nationalism, ‘peace’, anti-nuclear programmes, anti-war marches, human rights, religious freedom, environment and a host of issues which can paralyze a government or at least inhibit it from acting as it ought to in the national interest.
This essay critically scrutinizes the activities of some of these individuals and organisations, whose USP is a pathological hatred of Hinduism in all its expressions, to verify if they are contrary to the national interest and Hindu interest. Those thus placed under the scanner include Teesta Setalvad, Praful Bidwai, Achin Vanaik, Martin Macwan, Arundhati Roy, Aruna Roy, Nirmala Deshpande, Angana Chatterji, Akhila Raman, Sandeep Pandey, Raju Rajagopal and Harsh Mander. The NGOs under scrutiny include FOIL, AID, ActionAid, Parivartan and ASHA.
A common denominator with all these bleeding-heart ‘peaceniks’ is that they all take their cue from the US foreign policy agenda for India and Pakistan and its point of intersection. Domestically they advocate ‘communal harmony’ even in the face of Islamic jihad’s relentless war against Hindus, and promote ‘peace’ with Pakistan despite the fact that Pakistan has stubbornly refused to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure it has set up with state patronage. These worthies continue to insist on a ‘peace’ dialogue with Pakistan despite the fact that every act of jihadi terror around the world has a Pakistani connection and despite the fact that there is neither peace nor harmony between Hindu victims and local Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir. These bleeding-heart activists, like the US, continue to advocate ‘peace’ in utter disregard of Pakistan’s stated objectives vis-a-vis ‘Hindu’ India.
Further, there is complete non-cognizance of the fact that while Christians and Muslims may be waging a war to the finish in different parts of the world, while Catholics and Protestants may be killing each other in Northern Ireland and in fierce competition in the UK and the US, while Shias and Sunnis may be at each other’s throats in Pakistan and the entire Islamic world, while the stated ideology of Communism is to treat all religions as adversaries, they have worked out a Grand Truce in India.
As a result, in India, Christians, Muslims and Communists have forged a powerful anti-Hindu alliance and work in tandem, with powerful support from the US. This anti-Hindu coalition of Marxists, Muslims, Missionaries, Khalistanis and Nehruvian Stalinists displayed its unity most visibly in the name of Coalition Against Genocide (CAG) with the single-point agenda of pressuring the US establishment to deny Narendra Modi a visa to visit the US in April 2005.
There can hardly be doubts on this score. All ‘advocacy’ artists have been rewarded with peace and human rights awards by Western governments and international human rights organisations, almost invariably for taking an anti-Hindu position on political issues. These peace awardees and human rights activists are essentially political activists playing for big stakes. Persons like Martin Macwan, Harsh Mander, Arundhati Roy, Aruna Roy and Sandeep Pandey, no matter how persuasively the de-culturised domestic English media and international community may try to package them, are political activists rather than social workers. Their social activism and peace talk is a front, a mask for the greater war against political Hindus and Hindu nationalism. It makes sense, therefore, that they are anti-military, anti-police, anti-nuclear, anti- Hindu, anti-RSS and anti-Hindu-view-of-history. Each ‘anti’ stance is part of a well-planned battle in the war against the Hindu nation and Indian/Hindu nationalism.
This can be readily discerned when these activists denounce Hindutva and nationalism in the same breath. In their public discourses, speeches and writings, Hindutva is co-terminus with nationalism; they have thus unwittingly strengthened the perception that Hindutva is only Indian nationalism. Hence, when they attack Hindutva and belittle nationalism, these NGOs and activists also deride the nation and national integrity. They condemn Hindu religious and political consciousness in virulent language. No American/Western patronage is forthcoming for nationalism or the Hindu cause, but there is big money and powerful patrons in activism which issues shrill calls for doing away with nationalism and which supports the surrender of territory. There is big money in the politics of minorityism and in issues that serve, intentionally or otherwise, Western and American interests.
All these peace awardees and human rights activists have been feted and wined and dined by the international community (read White Christian nations and their human rights industry) in the years between 1996-2004 when the BJP-led coalition ruled the country, first for 13 days and then for six years. It seems difficult to avoid the conclusion that they were being rewarded for the virulent anti-Hindu and anti-BJP/RSS campaign they spearheaded. They obediently articulated the US-Western position on the status of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s nuclear weapons programme, the politics of minorityism, US State Department views on religious freedom, Dalit rights, women’s rights and human rights, and condoned nuclear apartheid by calling for denuclearising ‘South Asia’ alone.
If evidence is needed of the US NGO- activist link, it can be seen in the fact that the very groups and individuals who raised the pitch on these issues, and pushed the BJP into a corner and made Hindus defensive about their assertion in the polity, were subsequently used by the American State Department to gather information on domestic events to compile its annual reports on human rights and religious freedom. This partnership serves both sides well. The Americans use this group to check and bad-mouth growing Hindu influence in Indian polity and Indian nationalism while American and Western patronage gives these individuals and groups international visibility and legitimacy and access to funds and sponsorship for their political ambitions and NGO activism.
American and Indian Marxist forays into the NGO industry
Nehru and Nehruvian secularism packed the teaching faculties of the country’s premier educational institutions with Marxist and ‘secular’ academicians who shared an anti-Hindu orientation towards the nation’s history and cultural heritage. Not surprisingly, some of the Hindu minds that passed through these institutions were influenced and conditioned by Marxist notions of history and nation.
A brief account of the American and Marxist foray into the NGO industry accentuates the idea of India being the prestigious and chosen battleground for the two inherently violent and mutually annihilating European philosophies – market-driven capitalism and communism. In the current stage of their neverending war, one of their major battles is being fought out through the agency of NGOs. A noteworthy feature of American sponsorship of anti-Hindu activism is the choice of persons for the Magsaysay awards. Martin Macwan, Sandeep Pandey, Aruna Roy, Nirmala Deshpande and Admiral Ramdas, all anti-Hindu activists, have been awarded the Magsaysay in the years between 2000 and 2004, when the BJP-led NDA Government was in power.
The Magsaysay awards conferred upon Asians is not an Asian award. It is an American award for Asians. The Magsaysay awards in different categories are constituted by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation and a substantial part of the cash component is funded by the Ford Foundation (FF).
The Indian Left has always been strongly critical of the FF because it believes that the Ford Foundation, which it claims is consciously infiltrated by the CIA, set up shop in India even in Nehru’s time only to avert a very possible communist takeover of the country after Nehru’s death. This, the Marxists hold, the FF set out to do by investing heavily in rural development, in the green revolution and over time in NGOs as part of Ford’s ‘Asset Building and Community Development Program’, which ‘supports efforts to reduce poverty and injustice by helping to build the financial, natural, social, and human assets of low-income individuals and communities’.
NGO activism is a perfectly crafted weapon of containment.
The FF New Delhi office webpage claims that ‘at the invitation of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the Foundation established an office in India in 1952’. In fact, Chester Bowles, US Ambassador to India from 1951, initiated the process. Like the rest of the US foreign policy establishment, Bowles was profoundly shocked at the ‘loss’ of China (i.e., the nationwide coming to power of the communists in 1949). Linked to this was his acute worry at the inability of the Indian army to suppress the communist-led peasant armed struggle in Telangana (1946-51) ‘until the communists themselves changed their programme of violence’. Indian peasants expected that now, with the British Raj gone, their longstanding demand for land to the tiller would be implemented, and that pressure continued everywhere in India even after the withdrawal of the Telangana struggle.
Bowles wrote to Paul Hoffman, then President of FF:
‘The conditions may improve in China while the Indian situation remains stagnant…. If such a contrast developed during the next four or five years, and if the Chinese continued their moderate and boundary…. the growth of communism in India might be very great. The death or retirement of Nehru might then be followed by a chaotic situation out of which another potentially strong communist nation might be born.’
The New Delhi office was soon set up and, according to the Ford Foundation, ‘this was the Foundation’s first program outside the United States, and the New Delhi office remains the largest of its field office operations’. It also covers Nepal and Sri Lanka. Bowles wrote that ‘under the leadership of Douglas Ensminger, the Ford staff in India became closely associated with the Planning Commission which administers the Five-Year Plan. Wherever there was a gap, they filled it, whether it was agricultural, health education or administration. They took over, financed and administered the crucial village-level worker training schools’.
There is a sophisticated and comprehensive strategy worked out in imperialist quarters to harness the forces of voluntary agencies/action groups to their strategic design to penetrate Indian society and influence its course of development. It is the imperialist ruling circles, which have provided through their academic outfits the political and ideological basis for the outlook of a substantial number of these proliferating groups in India. By providing liberal funds to these groups, imperialism has created avenues to directly penetrate vital sections of Indian society and simultaneously use this movement as a vehicle to counter and disrupt the potential of the Left movement.
The CPI (M) and the Left forces have to take serious note of this arm of imperialist penetration while focusing on the instruments and tactics of imperialism. An ideological offensive to rebut the philosophy propagated by these groups is urgently necessary as it tends to attract petty bourgeois youth imbued with idealism (Prakash Karat in an article in The Marxist, titled Foreign Funding and the Philosophy of Voluntary Organisations, 1988: 2-3).
Indian Marxists nurture a natural and implacable hostility towards the US in general, the FF in particular and their ‘imperialist intentions’ in India. But the communists have learnt two important lessons – one, that the US and other Western nations by funding and supporting NGOs are actually influencing social trends and political and economic policies and, two, the urgent need to start their own flourishing industry in NGO activism which would give their socially disruptive anti-Hindu activism a façade of respectability.
Sandeep Pandey and Aruna Roy are infamous examples of Marxists venturing into NGO activism. Sandeep Pandey’s communist nexus began to unravel when, within months of accepting a Magsaysay award in 2002, he announced to the world that he will be returning the money—the US$ 50,000 component of the award because, he says, having called the US a terrorist state he cannot very well be receiving money from any American organisation. It is obvious now that the communists used Sandeep Pandey to deliver their first punch at the ‘imperialist’ US and the Ford Foundation.
The second punch was delivered soon thereafter and this time the World Social Forum was the context. The Indian communists did to the FF what they claim the FF did to them in the 1950s – hijack the World Social Forum from the Ford Foundation and thus hijack an entire American/European NGO agenda, an entire constituency of NGO activism and its beneficiaries, which had been created and funded by the Ford Foundation, the UN and several North American, European and Scandinavian governments and quasi-government and non-government organisations. This large umbrella coaliation was intended to render hors de combat any communist pretensions for a comeback. The ‘celestial war’ between capitalism and communism is once again gathering momentum and India seems to be their chosen battle ground this time with Hindus who view them both with equal suspicion becoming their combined target.
In keeping with its agenda to thwart the communists of the world from staging any more great communist revolutions in any continent (and the WTO had created a fertile soil for such revolutions even without the Soviet Union to trigger them), the Ford Foundation was one among the major contributors of funds for the World Social Forum which convened for the first time in Porto Alegre in Brazil in 2001. Not surprisingly, the Ford Foundation, which has been accused of being in partnership with the CIA, is now accused of funding the Left.
However, Ford Foundation funding the Left is typical Generic Church war tactic of funding and arming both sides of any war (in Sri Lanka for example) so that no matter who wins or loses in the war, the Church always wins.
Under the leadership of Douglas Ensminger, the Ford staff in India became closely associated with the Planning Commission which administers the Five-Year Plan.
For three consecutive years, the World Social Forum held its annual conventions in Porto Alegre and so buoyed up were the organisers with the response that in 2003 alone, they organised the Argentina Social Forum in Buenos Aires, European Social Forum in Florence, Palestine Thematic Forum in Ramallah, Asian Social Forum in Hyderabad, and African Social Forum in Addis Ababa. The penetration and the takeover of the World Social Forum by the communists of the world was complete by 2003 and, in 2003, the Brazilian Organising Committee and the International Council issued a triumphant war cry deciding to hold the next WSF gathering not in Brazil, but in India.
One of the principal organizing forces behind the Mumbai WSF meet in January 2004 were the two major communist parties of India – the CPI and the CPI(M), and the National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM) an umbrella organisation for all NGOs affiliated to these parties or owing allegiance to the communist ideology. And the first decision taken by the Indian Organising Committee was to reject Western sources of funds for the WSF, notably the Ford Foundation. In the words of Lisa Jordan of the FF:
We are not supporting this year’s forum because the Indian Organising Committee (IOC), which represents a comprehensive attempt to bring together a large cross-section of Indian society, includes some groups who have objected to Ford’s activities in India since 1953 – especially support for the Green Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. They feel that contributions made by the Ford Foundation helped to prevent India from undergoing communist revolution. In the beginning the idea for the WSF in India had been for a very broad funding base with Ford, Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID), the MacArthur Foundation, the European Union and others. But in the end, the IOC chose not to seek funding from any of these.
The NAPM is a conglomerate of anti-Hindu, anti-Nation Indian NGOs whose agendas include:
- ‘Resolving the Kashmir dispute’.
- Internationalising the Dalit issue with the slogan ‘Dalit rights as human rights’ to sever the dalits from the Hindu community–Agents: Christian NGOs, and Indian and foreign churches.
- Propagate the slogan ‘Women’s rights as human rights’ and sever Hindu women from their families and religion – Agents: Marxist and Christian women’s groups and women’s organisations.
- Education with emphasis on church-run rural and mofussil schools, writing of history and teaching the social sciences from a so-called subaltern, minority and gender perspective.
Nirmala Deshpande and Admiral Ramdas of Pakistan-India People’s Forum For Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) have already earned their own Magsaysays for dabbling in Kashmir and hard-selling peace with Pakistan, while Sandeep Pandey has original ideas on nationalism and, of course, on the status of Kashmir.
One of the sessions in the WSF in Mumbai 2004 was devoted to the Kashmir issue. And just so we entertain no delusions about the political ambitions of these NGOs and other activists, speakers at the seminar included Ved Bhasin, Chairman of Kashmir Times; Yasin Malik, Chairman of JKLF; Pervez Hoodbhoy, Professor, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad; Balraj Puri, Activist and Writer from Jammu; Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Associate Professor, JNU; Karamat Ali, Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Karachi; and Gautam Navlakha, Assistant Editor, Economic and Political Weekly. Incidentally, Gen. Karamat Ali, along with Admiral Ramdas, is one of the luminaries of PIPFPD.
The same group arranged for Martin Macwan, the so-called Dalit Christian from Gujarat sponsored by White American Christian patrons, to speak about untouchability at the Durban conference on racism. This group has succeeded in equating the practice of untouchability with caste, has reduced Hinduism to sati, dowry, caste and untouchability, and has defamed all practising Hindus as being inherently discriminatory towards the ‘lower’ castes and all women. The primary objective of this coalition of Muslims- Missionaries-Marxists-and Nehruvian Secularists is to write history in a manner that places large sections of Hindu society outside the Hindu fold and another important section as aliens who invaded/migrated into the country from the steppes of Central Asia. They hope thus to de-Hinduise the nation by propagating the following theories:
- Hinduism is Brahminism. The Brahmins are Aryans who are not native to the nation but who first invaded and later migrated into the country, subjugating the native ‘Dravidians’ and the adivasis.
- Therefore what goes in the name of Hinduism is as alien as Islam and Christianity and so there is no basis to the claim of Hindu nationalists that the life breath of this territory is the Hindu civilisation or a Hindu nation.
- Dalits and tribals are not Hindus.
- Modern India was created by the British and it is pluralistic.
The pluralism of this anti-Hindu coalition is not to be interchanged with diversity which is intrinsic only to Hinduism. The concept of pluralism with de-Hinduising the nation as its objective is at the core of all issues they raise and the manner in which they raise it.
(This is an excerpt from the author’s introductory chapter in the book NGOs, Activists and Foreign Funds: Anti-nation Industry, 2006)
Radha Rajan is a Chennai-based political analyst. She is also author and animal activist.