Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh

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Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS, literally translated into English as Hindu Voluntary Organization) is a right wing Hindutva organization[1] operating in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. Members of these organizations are encouraged to use Facebook and Twitter, supporting each other in coordinated disinformation, distractions, and internet trending exercises, to campaign for the RSS, which in turn runs the grassroots support for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party of Narendra Modi, in India.

Its UK branch, the HSS UK, runs approximately 70 weekly physical and ideological training camps across the UK. HSS is modelled on the the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and shares the aim of the RSS i.e. turning India into a Hindu nation. At all meetings of these groups, the outward claims are that they are a cultural organization and that Hinduism is a religion of peace, and one that is known for espousing vegetarianism. The vast majority of Indians in Europe and North America represent the upper classes and upper castes.[2]

In 2004, Awaaz – South Asia Watch Ltd, a London-based secular organization, published a 80-page report entitled "In Bad Faith? British Charity and Hindu Extremism". This report reveals millions of pounds collected by the Sewa International U.K. (SIUK), the fund-rasing arm of the HSS UK, went to front organizations of the RSS in India. SIUK was an unregistered charity, so it was using HSS's registration number.[3] When the British Charities [2]

In 2015, ITV Network released an undercover documentary titled Exposure - Charities Behaving Badly. This documentary covered three organizationa: the Steadfast Trust, Global Aid Trust and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh.

This documentary uncovered young Hindus being radicalised in an HSS camp. Youth were shown being taught sectarian ideology, religious intolerance and the dislike of particular ethnic, religious groups, and political positions.

In this documentary, an undercover reporter named Ravi goes into a HSS camp. Some teachings and conversations in the HSS annual leadership camp at a school in Hertfordshire, as shown in the documentary:[4]

  • When a pupil asked, "Do you think Muslims are the biggest problem in Britain?", the teacher replies "For everybody, for everybody."
  • When a pupil says "You can't unify with Muslims. Doesn't work." The teacher replies, "Nowhere! Nowhere does it work, not in America, not in Germany, not in India, not in Bangladesh, nowhere! But there are some good Muslims, but they can be counted on fingers."
  • Undercover reporter Ravi conversed with a pupil in the camp who knows about the origin of HSS and shakha (HSS branch).
    • Pupil: "Shakha is known as a right wing movement, complete right wing — nationalist — and we're equated as like, Hitler's Youth [sic]."
    • Ravi: "So it's completely right wing and nationalist?"
    • Unnamed pupil: "It's completely right wing and nationalist, yeah. It's going back to Hitler's Youth, when Hitler's youth army... "
    • Unnamed pupil: "Yeah."

Chetan Bhatt, professor of sociology at the London School of Economics, summarized his thoughts on the undercover footage:[4]

You have a charity here promoting hate-driven ideas, ideas that have caused considerable violence in India, to British youngsters — and doing that under charitable purposes. What you see here is an environment being created in which hate speech like this is completely acceptable. And if you have that inculcated into young children, what do you expect apart from this kind of hate speech? You're seeing the promotion of sectarianism and hatred, and hatred towards other religions. And you have to see that in the context of Britain and living in Britain, and living with different groups and communities.

After the release of the documentary, the Charity Commission of the UK started an investigation on the HSS.[5][6]

HSS response to the criticism[edit]

HSS has responded to the Hardcash TV programme in a press release as below:[7] HSS believes the programme was not a fair and accurate representation of our work or values. HSS has been operating in the UK since 1966 and during this period, not a single member of the organisation has even been formally or informally questioned/charged, warned, cautioned or sentenced by any of HSS authorities with holding, promoting or attempting to or carrying out any such action that is extremist or otherwise against any member of the public in the UK, simply because HSS does not promote or practice such views. In fact, HSS through its programmes over the years has always worked closely with authorities and different faith organisations. Therefore the depiction of HSS as anti any other faith is wrong, misleading and counterproductive to the positive work HSS has done in building interfaith rapport and community relations. HSS promote Hindu values that inherently are about cohesiveness and duty to society as a whole and HSS volunteers have always contributed positively to British society.

HSS residential leadership training event (at which the filming took place) is aimed at building character, based on discipline, respect, knowledge and selfless action. It was attended by a cross section of society. HSS try to give all the volunteers an opportunity to discuss their opinions and understand all other views but that does not mean that HSS agrees with or promotes these viewpoints. HSS are investigating these alleged comments with a view to ensuring that those who made them are either better informed and/or prevented from making statements (in public or at HSS events) which may be interpreted as anti other faith or community. As part of HSS's own investigation and as a result of being notified of the allegations, in January HSS immediately informed and recently met with the Charity Commission who have HSS's full co-operation in any investigation.

The speaker who has been quoted in the documentary is not a trustee or office bearer of HSS. He was an invited speaker and HSS are now waiting for his response concerning the alleged comments recorded in the aired programme as part of HSS's own investigation.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

Articles on RationalWiki about Hindu nationalism
  Bal Thackeray  -  Bharatiya Janata Party  -  David Frawley  -  Hindu University of America  -  Hindutva  -  Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh  -  Sanskrit  -  Savitri Devi  -  Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America