U.S. corporates suspend funding to IDRF

NEW DELHI NOV. 24. Cisco Systems, one among the several IT companies in the United States which contributed funds to the U.S.-based charity, Indian Development and Relief Fund, has suspended donations to the organisation. The Cisco and many other U.S. corporate companies, including Sun Microsystems, AOL Time Warner and Hewlett Packard, were listed in a report by the ``Campaign to Stop Hate Funding'' which traced the IDRF's links to the Sangh Parivar's organisations and showed that well over 80 per cent of the funds it raised went to NGOs affiliated to the Sangh.

In a statement, Cisco said that it was the company's practice to donate towards relief work for natural disasters such as the Gujarat earthquake and that it "exclusively supports government-approved non-profit organisations. At that time, some of our employees initiated matching gifts, IDRF was a U.S. government-approved non-profit organisation. Cisco has since suspended all donations to IDRF while it investigates these allegations.'' The Sun Microsystems also said that it had put donations to IDRF on hold awaiting a reply from the U.S. internal revenue service regarding the organisation.

The IDRF, however, asserted today that it was a "non-political, non-religious organisation'' which "does not subscribe to any religious, political or sectarian agenda.'' Responding to the report by the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate, the IDRF said in a statement that the allegations were "pure concoction, untruthful and self-contradictory.'' The organisation focussed on five key areas of work: education, health care, women, children and tribal welfare. It was a tax-exempt charity registered in the U.S. which had been "the favoured means for thousands of donors in the U.S.A. who wish to contribute to various development, relief and rehabilitation efforts in India.''

Shalini Gera, spokesperson for the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate said that the IDRF had "failed to challenge any of the facts laid out in the 91-page report.'' Nor had it explained "why the majority of its funds go to Sangh-affiliated organisations and only 2 per cent to secular organisations.'' She said that it had found that the majority of IDRF's funds did go to ``education'' and ``tribal welfare'' but that "the education and tribal welfare organisations it funds have been severely implicated in the propagation of sectarianism.''

Another Campaign member, Angana Chatterji, said "the question is not whether they are undertaking charitable work, but if they are doing so to promote ideals that result in hate and violence.''