The 93-page report by South Asia Citizens Web has put together the details of the money raised and spent by the US-based Hindutva groups on a wide range of activities including influencing legislation in the US pertaining to textbooks and academia.
NEW DELHI – A new report has revealed that US-based Hindu organisations affiliated to Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS) in India have spent more than 1,200 crore on various activities spanning over two decades.
The 93-page report by South Asia Citizens Web looks at the Infrastructure of Hindutva Influence peddling, mobilising, and fundraising in the US. It has put together the details of the money raised and spent by the US-based Hindutva groups on a wide range of activities including influencing legislation in the US pertaining to textbooks and academia. The report revealed that the groups have used the money to lobby in the US power corridors for the interest of the Modi government.
The report compiles the activities of 24 Hindu nationalist groups in the US with assets of around USD 100 million.
A key finding of the report has been the spending of these groups in the last two decades. “Between 2001-2019, according to available tax returns, seven Sangh-affiliated charitable groups reportedly spent at least $158.9 million on their programming, sending much of it to groups in India,”
The numbers were arrived at by calculating tax returns of the groups such as All India Movement (AIM) for Seva, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of America, India Development and Relief Fund, Param Shakti Peeth, PYP Yog Foundation, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) of America and Sewa International. The researchers analysed tax records, government filings, public statements, websites, and news reports.
The advent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi catapulted the activities and spending of the Hindu groups in the US as the report shows that between 2001 to 2019, 53% of the total expenditure of $158.9 million was recorded in 2014 and 2019.
The report aimed to “map portions of the Hindu nationalist ecosystem in the United States”. It also takes a peek at the shareholding patterns of the groups to establish their links to a broader network.
The report notes that three of the Dharma Civilization Foundation (DCF)’s trustees had been top office-bearers of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), which is considered as the US counterpart of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
According to the report, between 2012 and 2016, DCF offered grants of Rs 13 million to the three different educational institutions. In 2015, a group wrote a letter to California’s department of education protesting against the inclusion of the word ‘Dalit’ in the curriculum. Later on, one of the signatories was hired by an institution, USC’s School of Religion and Graduate Theological Union, after they received grants from DCF in 2012 and 2015, respectively.
However there was one setback to the Hindutva efforts after a protest by faculty and students raising questions” about the group’s suspected ties to Hindu nationalists in India”, the third grant worth around $6 million, offered by DCF to the University of California at Irvine in 2016 was refused.
Moreover, the report also brings to the fore the financing of the political campaigns to lobby for Hindu nationalist causes in the US. Hindu American Political Action Committee (HAPAC) had spent more than $172,000 in various US elections between 2012 and 2020, based on government filings.
Between 2015 and 2020, US Congress member Raja Krishnamoorthi received more than $117,000 from HAPAC and Sangh affiliated individuals, the report said, adding that Krishnamoorthi has an “apparent pattern of contributing to the mainstreaming and legitimisation of Hindu nationalist interests in the US includes”, listing his 2017 letter to the California state education board to include “Hindu nationalist content” in the curriculum, among others.
At the 2019 Howdy Modi event in Houston attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump, he was the only Indian-American lawmaker to turn up for the rally.
Added to this, former Congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard received $110,000 in five years between 2014 and 2019. During the same period, Democrat congress member from California Brad Sherman, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, got $27,000.
The SACW report also makes allegations of financial irregularities by Hindu organisations based on analysis of government filings and websites which shows a chain of land and money transfers between various Trusts and non-profit groups.