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Saturday, June 10, 2023

Continuous attempts to discredit Sewa International

Covid-19 has brought out many Hindu haters, even HINOs, who think Hindus do no charity and are all praise for missionary organisations despite the fact that they do ‘charity’ in exchange for ‘conversion’. Then they glorified langar and questioned what Hindu organisations have done for the society. But when one organisation which proudly proclaims itself to be Hindu, did exemplary relief work, they couldn’t believe it and have started discrediting the organisation.

Sewa International (SI), the charity arm of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) which operates in the USA and UK has been made to go through Agnipariksha based on unsubstantiated claims. Sewa International has been the target of the liberal mafia and Breaking India forces since the 2000s. It has gained momentum again after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey donated $2.5 million for SI as a part of $15 million earmarked for Covid-19 relief in Bharat. Attempts to tarnish the image of SI and discourage overseas Bharatiyas from donating to the organisation are made again and the article that appeared in Slate is a part of it.

It all began when Sewa International gathered funds for relief work in Gujrat in the aftermath of the earthquake in 2000 from its US and UK patrons. After the riots in 2002 SI was targeted by a UK based media, Channel 4, that broadcasted an ‘investigation report’ which made allegations that the funds went to Hindu nationalist organisations. Following this, in 2004, a UK based ‘rights group’ Awaaz alleged that the funds collected for relief work were used to incite the 2002 riots. It released a report saying that SI’s funds went to RSS organisations to ‘establish new RSS cells intended to continue spreading the group’s ideology’. 

The report quotes an RSS functionary saying that “the ultimate object of all these endeavors”—referring to Sewa International and Seva Bharati—”is Hindu sangathan: consolidation and strengthening of the Hindu society.” It doesn’t say what is wrong in the Hindu society wanting to consolidate itself. The Slate article quotes this and makes it out to be some sin. It says wherever Sewa offered its services BJP won in the elections. It doesn’t offer any explanation as to why people shouldn’t elect BJP, a registered political party.

It uses another old report from 2002 by NGO Sabrang run by the infamous Teesta Setalvad, to paint Sewa as a missionary organisation. On one hand it says relief work, in the aftermath of the earthquake in 2000, was ‘prioritized for higher-caste Hindus instead of equally attending to Indians of all religions and castes’. On the other hand it makes an allegation that ‘concerted efforts were made to convert Christians, Muslims, and other minorities to Hinduism.’

Next, the articles uses secular journalist Neha Dixit’s old article, Operation #BetiUthao, The Sangh’s Stolen Child Crusade, published in 2016 to malign RSS. Perhaps the author failed to probe the background of this journalist which is why he might have missed the fact that she was booked for running a fake story. Simply because Dixit is running propaganda against Sewa international now, he seems to have taken her at face value.

The article then makes a point that there is an overlap between the leaders of HSS and Sewa and suddenly accuses one such leader of pushing ‘RSS linked candidates for the US Congress’ without any proof. It then accuses Sewa of giving platform to Indresh Kumar, head of Muslim Rashtriya Manch, as someone who supported an Islamaphobic law. This so-called Islamaphobic law is nothing but CAA which proposes to give citizenship to minorities from Islamic nations. The article fails to mention that Muslims also supported the act in the reference given by the author himself.

Author’s ideological background seems to have blinded his eyes to make him wonder why big tech would donate to SI. So he reached out to Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Benevity, the platform that hosts donation drives, for comments. However he was royally ignored by all the tech giants and Benevity gave an explanation saying, “Our charity vetting and validation process ensures that organizations in the Benevity Causes Portal are registered as a charity or nonprofit with the appropriate governing body in the country of operation, are in good standing under applicable laws, and are not from an embargoed country or on a watch list, both at the time of import and prior to the disbursement of funds.”

Coming back to the accusations and allegations on Sewa International, in 2002 Council of Indian Muslims in UK sent a ‘300 page dossier to the Home Ministry and Charity Commission, demanding ‘ban of two UK-based charitable groups with close ties with the Sangh Parivar’ amd dismayed when it was turned down by the UK government. However, it was hopeful that Sewa International would be banned by the Charity Commission after the Channel 4 report came out. However the Charity Commission gave a clean chit to Sewa International, UK.

Sewa International, UK even organised a visit for a 30 member delegation of its donors to where it’s relief work was done in Bharat. The delegation didn’t find any anomalies in how the funds were utilised and conveyed the same to the Charity Commission. However the attack on Sewa by Awaaz and other such secular and Breaking India organisations continued. In 2015 complaints were filed against Sewa based on a ‘sting video’ of a speaker saying “To destroy Hindu history is the secret conspiracy of the Christians,” and, “If it comes to Islam, they are the world’s worst religion” in an event organised by Sewa International, UK.

Sewa extended full support to the investigation and the Charity Commission found that the allegations were unsubstantiated. Critics of Sewa and RSS like to claim that the earlier investigation was dropped as the Bharatiya government didn’t grant visas to Charity Commission visitors. But if Sewa International had really mishandled the funds and the Charity Commission felt that the Bharatiya government tried to help them, they wouldn’t have let the organisation function till now. However Sewa remains unblemished after all the mud slinging. In fact Sewa International, USA has been rewarded with a 4 star rating for the fourth consecutive year by Charity Navigator, an US charity watchdog.

This attack on Sewa International after Twitter endorsed it by allocating relief funds to the organisation comes at a time when other Hindu organisations such as BAPS Swami Narayan and Hindu American Foundation, which are also doing exemplary service in Covid-19 relief, are targeted by the usual suspects. BAPS Swami Narayan temple was targeted falsely for trafficking labourers from Bharat and HAF was accused of appropriating funds meant for Covid-19 relief to support violence against Christians and Mulsims. In BAPS’ case the truth came to light that it was the construction firm which mistreated the labourers. HAF has filed a defamation suit against those who wrote fake stories against it. As the saying goes, just because a dog barks at the sun, it does not dim the sun’s brightness.

(Featured Image Source: Twitter)

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