Sangh Samachar

Hindu Students Council and the art of shooting from the hip

The HSC press release of April 20, 2007 is a classic instance of shooting from the hip. Four days had passed since the release of the report, Lying Religiously: The Hindu Students Council and the Politics of Deception (LyR), and one could only remain silent for so long! But how do you react when the evidence is stacked against you? Shoot from the hip, seems to have been the advice from the VHPA head-honchos, for that’s what the HSC has done.

The HSC PR starts by misusing three adjectives: inaccurate, misleading, anonymous.

  • If the LyR report was inaccurate/misleading, how about at least one refutation of the core claims?
  • CSFH has been around since November 2002, I can’t see how this squares with the HSC’s understanding of anonymous.

Next, the PR asserts that LyR‘s claim that the HSC has been deceiving its members about its activities is erroneous, but don’t hold your breath for the HSC to substantiate its assertion. Proof by assertion, with a liberal dose of ad hominem, has served the Sangh well all these years, and the HSC has taken the same route.

The PR also claims that LyR is a mix of outdated information (some of which is 15 years old and presented as currently accurate) and inaccurate claims. LyR is a longitudinal study starting from the early 1990s and going all the way up to 2007.

By adopting this longitudinal strategy, two objectives are accomplished: (1) making it impossible for HSC to claim that the connections were merely in the past and not in the contemporary moment; and (2) making visible the specific nature of HSC strategy to cynically reveal or conceal its links to the Sangh Parivar as a way to expand its organizational base with incoming students on campus and to cement infrastructural connections with the Sangh.

Perhaps the Sanghis don’t know the difference between outdated information and a longitudinal study? However, as anyone that has dealt with them knows, such ignorance is willful.

After a banal paragraph comes this juicy bit, reproduced below in full:

HSC members are encouraged to reach out to a wide variety of organizations in the United States that share an interest in promoting a stronger, more educated Hindu community. Such organizations include the Art of Living, BAPS, Chinmaya Mission, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, the Gayatri Parivar, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, International Society of Krishna Consciousness, the Vedanta Society, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, and various Hindu temples and ashrams.

The HSS acknowledges that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [is] the parent body of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS acknowledges that [outside India], Sangh’s full name is Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh. As for the VHP of America, the VHP acknowledges that “[t]here are VHP Units, registered under its name according to the laws of the respective countries, in USA, U.K” and lists VHP of America as one such unit. In short, the evidentiary loop between the HSS, VHPA and the RSS is complete. As per its own press release, the HSC encourages its members to reach out to … the RSS! Now, the HSC could justifiably claim that the information here is dated (for it depends on an almost week-old HSC press release), but you get the point, don’t you?

As for the HSC’s rant about the timing of LyR’s release, LyR was released on April 15, a day before the tragic Virginia Tech shooting. I quote below CSFH’s fitting response to HSC’s hypocrisy.

The HSC National leadership accuses CSFH of insensitivity in launching such a campaign at a moment when they are busy offering solidarity to the Virginia Tech HSC chapter after the tragic events of April 16. We find this diversionary tactic most hypocritical, for the HSC has stood by in stony silence after each riot carried out by its sister organizations in India. In 1993, the HSC rationalized and celebrated the destruction of the Babri mosque (and the anti-Muslim violence that followed) as “the beginning of the new age of Hindu Renaissance, a new Hindu Revolution”. Again, after the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, the National HSC promptly (and rightly) called for apprehending the perpetrators of the Godhra carnage, but was understandably silent about justice for the families of the more than 2000 Muslims massacred in what was probably the worst carnage since 1947. In fact, in the post-genocide days, the National HSC was busy oiling the machinery of the Sangh’s global propaganda network (by maintaining the electronic infrastructure of the Sangh). Is the National HSC not complicit in the cover up that has ensued since 2002?

The Sangh is known to profit from disasters — natural or man-made — and the HSC’s attempt to hide behind the Virginia Tech shooting is just another manifestation of its crassly instrumental use of human tragedy. Will the HSC leadership dig its own grave and stand exposed to its rank-and-file? Only time can tell. But until then, lets do our bit and try get the individual HSC chapters dissociate from the national HSC (that’s under the supervision of the VHPA’s Youth Programs Coordinator).

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