Friday, November 07, 2008

obama linked to loony hindu group?

The Hindustan Times reports today that one of Obama's top advisers is a member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a chauvinist group that in India has advocated the founding of Hindu suicide squads to target Muslims.

According to the story, Sonal Shah, an Indian-American adviser on Obama's transition team, was a national coordinator of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America campaign to raise funds for Gujarat earthquake victims in 2001. That sounds pretty innocuous, I know. But the Indian press has often shown links between charitable Hindu organizations and the more dubious activities of the VHP. Also, the story goes on to say that Sonal's father, Ramesh, works with the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)--which has its roots in fascism and advocates turning India into a Hindu state. He was involved with the RSS's Ekal Vidyalayas project--which are single-teacher primary schools that promote "Hindu values" among the children of tribal regions--as part of the "reconversion" movement that demonizes Christian missionaries claiming that they are tricking or forcing Hindus to convert to Christianity.

3 comments:

Shital said...

I was an Indicorps fellow and volunteered for one year in Gujarat, working with an NGO that provides non-formal education to child laborers in the slum areas of Bhavnagar, Gujarat. From first-hand experience, Sonal Shah is an inclusive, tolerant, and service-oriented individual, and this shows through in the way she shaped Indicorps, in addition to all her other commendable work. The diverse members of Indicorps and its projects is a reflection of the united and empowered India that she tirelessly works for.

Sonal should be congratulated for her appointment to Obama’s Transition Team and for breaking new ground for Indian-Americans and, in fact, the global Indian diaspora.

m said...

Sonal shah was also involved with communist from aasha....
and the point beeing.
I have heard her talk
she is full of hot air and no substance, hence the obama involvement

Jason Overdorf said...

I'm not convinced Sonal Shah is a bad person. I don't know her from Adam. But her recent "This thing has legs, please help!" call to friends, and her PR-team-crafted renunciation of VHP America was pretty unconvincing. The VHP is not at all subtle about being a chauvinist organization. The organization's head, Pravin Togadia, is constantly preaching hatred for the ears of the Indian press -- and he used to get front page headlines until somebody decided that the best way to deal with him was to ignore him. Their youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, is quite openly a brown-shirts type club of footsoldiers, and its leaders are quite happy to say so on TV when they get the chance.

At the very best, somebody who was ignorant enough to become affiliated with such a group should own up to stupidity and laziness.

We don't let former KKK members say, "I didn't know they were racist." Oh, wait, I forgot about David Duke.