Labour MP sucks up to Hindu bigots


by Sunny
13th July, 2007 at 12:01 am    

Not long ago the Evening Standard reporter Andrew Gilligan did an exposé of the Hindu so-called ‘community leader’ Ramesh Kallidai and highlighted his relationships with various far-right Hindu organisations here and in India.

Has the government learnt? Of course not. Last week someone sent me this exchange at the House of Commons.

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Stephen Pound (Ealing, North) (Lab): As we look at India as a strategic partner and a major global power, the role of DFID has in some ways to be recalibrated. DFID currently operates in four states of India, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal, but it also has federally targeted programmes working throughout India. I want to raise with the Minister the role of India in the UK, including promulgating the role of DFID, because it is not entirely a one-way traffic.

The British taxpayer is acting not, certainly, out of colonial guilt and not entirely out of fraternal feeling, but in some cases, let us be honest, out of enlightened self-interest in seeking partnership with the world’s biggest democracy, which is an emerging force for stability in a particularly unstable region-a country virtually surrounded by what some people might cruelly call failed states. It is a country that has much to teach us.

At present we are extremely fortunate in having people who will make the case for DFID in the UK. I invite the Minister to join me in praising, particularly, the work of Hindu Aid, including two people whom he knows extremely well, Ramesh Kallidai and Arjan Vekaria, who work to promote the work of DFID within the Indian population in the UK. DFID’s work will be more fully understood and more effective in-country when people of Indian origin are able to make the case for DFID here in the UK, not just as part of a diaspora but within the wider community. I hope that my hon. Friend will also be prepared to join me in congratulating Sewa International, a British charity that enjoys the overwhelming support of the Indian population in Britain for its work in promoting such initiatives as the one teacher school, in which core challenges such as literacy in India are addressed on a scale not readily matched by other non-governmental organisations.

We have not touched on the matter of DFID working with NGOs, but in many ways it is an area of added value. DFID is a funder of first resort, but in many cases it is a pump primer. The unsung work of the Department for International Development, which it would be appropriate to mention this afternoon, includes developmental work that it does with NGOs in India.

The Minister’s Department, acting particularly as a repository of advice, information and resource, does extraordinarily good work there, which is seldom acknowledged. I hope that the Department will continue to work with agencies such as Sewa International, which have the experience required not only to help achieve the millennium development goals to which the Minister referred earlier, but also to meet the transparency and compliance criteria mentioned by the hon. Member for Boston and Skegness.

On the matter of partnership-although I do not mean to rebrand the Department and move it from assistance to partnership-many of us visited Gujarat after the earthquakes and took a considerable sum of money which had been raised here. We were delighted to work with the Department and with NGOs from Oxfam to the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development, but that was all under the umbrella of Sewa International. Since its inception nearly two decades ago, the UK organisation has worked to promote public service and volunteering in Britain, in partnership with DFID. The Minister will be aware that this year Sewa International has involved the entire Hindu community in raising funds for local causes, such as Refuge and Macmillan Cancer Support.

3.27 pm Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.
3.42 pm On resuming-

Stephen Pound: I was talking about Sewa International’s work with organisations, such as Refuge and Macmillan Cancer Support, and on blindness, old-age-related problems, learning difficulties and conservation by providing skilled, able and willing volunteers. My point is that the Department for International Development’s work in partnership with groups such as Sewa International is seldom acknowledged, seldom appears on the balance sheet and is difficult to quantify in actuarial terms, but the tangible difference that it makes to people’s lives is beyond price.

Gareth Thomas – Minister for International Development: My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North rightly highlighted the considerable contribution that Hindu Aid, and Ramesh Kallidai and Arjan Vekaria-its present leadership, for want of a better phrase-are providing. I commend their work and programmes. My hon. Friend told us about some of the work of Sewa International, in particular its leadership in motivating and galvanising the Indian community in the UK to respond to the Gujarat earthquake. It did a powerful and important job then, and its aid programmes continue to do good.

**************

The full debate is on the Parliament website.

Stephen Pound MP is loudly cosying up to Kallidai and his friends for political reasons. His constituency has a Gujarati population and the local ethnic newspaper – Asian Voice – is close to Kallidai. Both Kallidai and Pound have a regular column in Asian Voice.

So Stephen Pound MP, because he wants those brown votes, wants to make sure he has it on record that he is willing to make loud sucking sounds.

Keep in mind that the secular group Awaaz SAW put together a detailed report on Sewa International a few years ago, exposing their links to religious fanatics such as the RSS and VHP in India.

Sidenote: Trolls will no doubt try and accuse AwaazSAW of having an anti-Hindu agenda. But like PP they merely have an anti-religious fanatics agenda. Last year they also published this on Muslim fanaticism.


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28 Comments below   |  

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  1. Tipu — on 13th July, 2007 at 1:06 am  

    Long live Lord Ram! Rebuild the temples! Eradicate foreign ideologies!

  2. Vikrant — on 13th July, 2007 at 10:06 am  

    Its always Islamist terrorists and Khalistani extremists! Hindu bigots eh? Am i missing something?

  3. Vikrant — on 13th July, 2007 at 10:09 am  

    Trolls will no doubt try and accuse AwaazSAW of having an anti-Hindu agenda.

    My only problem with Awaaz is that they have explicit links with Teesta Seetalvad. Whose Communalism Combat is funded by Congress party. The organisation is a joke. Not so long ago she riled about “secular” struggle in Kashmir. And how her workshops teach children how Aurangzeb was a model of secular king.

  4. Rumbold — on 13th July, 2007 at 10:15 am  

    Aurangzeb? That hooligan? Oh dear. Still, his father deserved what he got.

    I presume that the first comment is sarcastic, as Tipu is known as a Muslim name.

  5. Twining or Black in Blue — on 13th July, 2007 at 10:15 am  

    Sunny you are right Kallidai is close to Asian Voice. Is it possible that Kallidai and others in power are actually similar pursuing some of their own ends? If there is a link to extremism which I think there is, this is disgusting but just gos to show racism is not a white illness.

    Kallidai should know better, but then is it in it for himself. Countless achievers in anti racism are never in it for themselves, but they are never ever mentioned.

  6. jp — on 13th July, 2007 at 12:44 pm  

    Sunny, your sidenote on trolls doesn’t not make sense. Having an anti-Hindu agenda and being anti-fanatic are not mutually exclusive.

    Have you read the Awaaz report on Sewa International? I don’t begrudge the media-tinged, maximum-impact style in which it’s written – it’s the only way ideas seem to be heard – but I heed facts more than I do opinions. Unfortunately, both the summary and the report itself are loaded more with the latter than with the former. The research – however honestly carried out – loses credibility as a result.

    I lost interest after the zillionth epithet.

  7. Neil — on 13th July, 2007 at 2:01 pm  

    WHo cares ? I worked my arse off to raise money in Birmingham for the Gujarat earthquake appeal few years back. So what if the money went through SEWA International ? At least they were doing something.

    I agree the Awaaz report is loaded with opinion mascarading as facts.

  8. Vikrant — on 13th July, 2007 at 5:42 pm  

    Thats the way south asian liberals work. Conflate Hindutva trolls with OBL kinda Islamism.

  9. Vikrant — on 13th July, 2007 at 5:43 pm  

    Also their concern about Islamists sound like an afterthought than anything else… soo typical of them.

  10. KSingh — on 13th July, 2007 at 6:42 pm  

    Only a few days ago some people said it was outrageous that some members of Ealing Labour were involved with a Hindu Extremist organisations and should be sued.

    A week is a long time in politics

  11. Cass — on 14th July, 2007 at 2:20 am  

    Yet again the depressing nexus between neo-liberal opportunism and communal bigotry.

    Incidentally, terms like ‘anti-Hindu’ are as vacuous and devoid of meaning as ‘anti American,’ or ‘anti-Islamic.’

  12. Sunny — on 14th July, 2007 at 3:31 am  

    The research – however honestly carried out – loses credibility as a result.

    I lost interest after the zillionth epithet.

    That doesn’t take away from the facts that were uncovered.

  13. jp — on 14th July, 2007 at 6:46 pm  

    That’s the problem – there were very few relevant facts, so few that they resort to spinning their opinions to make them appear factual.

  14. sunray — on 14th July, 2007 at 9:07 pm  

    Brilliant deduction Holmes!

    First it was the police who were in cahoots with fundamentalist and terrorist and now it’s the British MPs!

    next headlines

    xyz MP is loudly cosying up to Sikh terrorist and his friends for political reasons. His constituency has a sikh population. Because he wants those brown votes, wants to make sure he has it on record that he is willing to make loud sucking sounds.

    xyz MP is loudly cosying up to Islamic terrorist and his friends for political reasons. His constituency has a muslim population. Because he wants those brown votes, wants to make sure he has it on record that he is willing to make loud sucking sounds.

  15. Sunny — on 14th July, 2007 at 11:49 pm  

    That’s the problem – there were very few relevant facts, so few that they resort to spinning their opinions to make them appear factual.

    Sounds like a broad generalisation. Give me an example.

  16. jp — on 15th July, 2007 at 12:07 am  

    The 5 “findings” in the Awaaz report summary: http://www.awaazsaw.org/ibf/summary.htm – for starters, it says, “The report demonstrates that…” as if the report itself can prove anything.

    1. “The extremist RSS’s front organizations” – to call the RSS extremist is opinion, not fact. Sure, this could be expected in a media report, but not in a summary of ‘key findings’.

    2. “HSS and Sewa International are UK branches of the RSS” – the lies begin; this is opinion, not fact.

    3. “Sewa International’s deep connections with the extremist RSS” – ‘deep’ is undefined an qualitative.

    4. “The overwhelming bulk of funds HSS and Sewa International collected…were given to extremist RSS fronts in India” – it appears RSS cannot be mentioned without being called ‘extremist’ (opinion, not fact), ‘RSS fronts’ again a construction made by the authors.

    5. “RSS allies funded from UK public donations” – the idea of ‘allies’ is opinion, not fact.

  17. Sunny — on 15th July, 2007 at 12:54 am  

    “The report demonstrates that…” as if the report itself can prove anything.

    Well, yes it can, if it has qualified that statement.

    1. “The extremist RSS’s front organizations” – to call the RSS extremist is opinion, not fact. Sure, this could be expected in a media report, but not in a summary of ‘key findings’.

    Maybe. But that’s like saying the same about Hizb ut-Tahrir.

    2. “HSS and Sewa International are UK branches of the RSS” – the lies begin; this is opinion, not fact.

    That was qualified. See the bit about sharing addresses and charity numbers.

    3. “Sewa International’s deep connections with the extremist RSS” – ‘deep’ is undefined an qualitative.

    qualified with fact.

    4. “The overwhelming bulk of funds HSS and Sewa International collected…were given to extremist RSS fronts in India” – it appears RSS cannot be mentioned without being called ‘extremist’ (opinion, not fact), ‘RSS fronts’ again a construction made by the authors.

    Your point being what? The authors fully admit they hate the RSS. The point here is about Sewa International’s connections.

    5. “RSS allies funded from UK public donations” – the idea of ‘allies’ is opinion, not fact.

    Again, qualified with links demonstrated in the report.

    Surely this isn’t the best you can come up with?

  18. jp — on 15th July, 2007 at 1:16 am  

    “Surely this isn’t the best you can come up with?”

    Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s enough.

  19. lost — on 16th July, 2007 at 1:21 am  

    I was very sceptical of the RSS amid media speculation rather than my own findings. On a viist to India, I visited a temple of the “Bhartaya Seva Ashram” which has links with the RSS. From the few the centres I viisted I never saw one instance of teaching that suggested hate, violence or crimes. I agree that the RSS has a loud voice when it comes to politics, but then there are wider political issues that has not been dealt with since independence. From my investigation, the formation of the RSS was to empower and unite Hindus amid conversion and coercion. Break barriers that hindered unity like the caste system. However, during the colonial times, they became a voice for Hindu India and the British were becoming worried, as for the first time their “divide & rule” politics were going to be challenged. From this threat, a systematic effort was made to tarnish its image by labelling the RSS fundemental. Later Congress carried this forward for their own vested interest.

    A country which has 85% Hindus, and to be fair, it is the only motherland for Hindus, their rights has never been addressed or accommodated. The Congress inspired by Gandhi professed a secular state, but has constitutional rights for religious groups. For a secular state to be fully functional, there should be no room for religion in politics.

    As for the RSS, it lost its roots for a while but came back with branches attached which has other agendas, like the Bajrang Dal, VHP etc.

    Please note that although VHP claim they represent Hindu voice, they don’t. Vast majority of Hindus do not support their hardline attitude and they only operate in the state of Maharashtra, thank God.

  20. sunray — on 16th July, 2007 at 9:03 am  

    [troll]
    Sunny you write “Keep in mind that the secular group Awaaz SAW put together”
    There is nothing secualr about this group.
    Im sorry but Awaaz is merely a group that wants to turn a blind eye on the atrocities of Pakistan and Bangladesh against Hindus which has been going on for years but one small riot in comparison- in Gujarat makes them hell bent on criticizing all the Hindu organisations.
    http://www.awaazsaw.org/awaaz_faq.htm
    Secular they are not.

    Whereas on the link you provided on Islamic fundamentalist they merely fob them off as a bunch of ‘complex and sometimes highly overlapping political tendencies, organization and network.’
    That statement almost sounds like they are acceptable in what they do.

    They then further emphasise that the tendencies described are not the ‘organised beliefs of vast majority of muslim populations in the UK.’. Funny they never say that about Hindu organisations.

    They defend Islam by saying the war on terror is a witchhunt politics directed against individual muslims individual and groups in the UK’.
    Then they describe how the media are twisting the words in deceptive ways’.
    http://www.awaazsaw.org/awaaz_pia4.pdf
    How is this secular?

    One cannot seriously take the validity of reports made by this group whose sole aim is bring down Hinduism into disrepute.

  21. seeker — on 16th July, 2007 at 1:29 pm  

    Mr Gurcharan Singh is a staunch SIKH FANATIC Khalistani and has has encouraged and help create a new younger generation of Fanatic type of Khalistanis amongst the Sikh youth.

    Extremist sites like http://www.sikhsangat.com – sikh politics section, and http://www.saintsoldiers.net, http://www.carnage84.com and extremsit videos regarding Khalistan show the new wave of anti Indian India, fanatical type Khalistani Sikh , he has helped spawn and encouraged.

    Good riddance to this Extremist who pretends to be there for the good of the community

    Yes its important that the authorities keep an eye on this growing fanatacism amongst today sikhs.

    They could very well be the new muslim fanatics of the future.

    People in repsonsible positions politically should be more careful.

    Gurcharan Singh was a joke

  22. Sukhi — on 16th July, 2007 at 4:30 pm  

    It is incredible that SEWA International, a charity being investigated by the Charity Commission for allegedly siphoning funds towards religious extremist causes, is being lauded in the House of Commons. We must remain vigilant at all times so that this kind of thing does not happen again. Stephen Pound must be made aware of these facts. The likes of Kallidai are a kind of virus. No matter how hard you try to vaccinate the body politic against them, they peddle influence and rhetoric and try to gain respectability in the establishment. They must not be allowed to do this.

  23. Sukhi — on 16th July, 2007 at 4:34 pm  

    They could very well be the new muslim fanatics of the future.

    Despite their extremist mode of thinking, they are not going to start suicide bombing trhe London Underground. Comparing them with Islamist fanatics in this context is wrong and is scaremongering. Gurcharan Singh is now discredited and without a constituency of any real importance.

  24. A N other — on 19th July, 2007 at 12:31 pm  
  25. John Walker — on 19th July, 2007 at 3:58 pm  

    It’s so easy to see the bigots in the comments above.

    The Awaaz report is a sound exposure of political ideologies being funded through deciet and dishonesty. They are milking the british asian community by selling a false image of charity through their own brand of hinduism, or as it is better known, hindutva.

    This is far apart from the values of hinduism.

    These UK pressure groups should be investigated and any ties to extremist nationalist groups like the VHP and RSS should be exposed.

  26. jp — on 19th July, 2007 at 9:42 pm  

    The Awaaz report is a sound exposure…

    I’d call it a fragile fabrication. It’s something I’d expect to read in the Sun.

    These UK pressure groups should be investigated and any ties to extremist nationalist groups like the VHP and RSS should be exposed.

    That’s the first time I’ve heard someone call a charity a “pressure group”. Yes, there are links between Sewa International and VHP – this link doesn’t need exposing, it’s clearly stated on Sewa International’s website.

    Finally, Awaaz have presented no evidence that Sewa International funds have been used to fund political ideologies.

    I agree it’s very easy to see the bigots in the comments above – those who have presumed guilt.

  27. Cisoux — on 19th July, 2007 at 10:14 pm  

    No doubt the Charity Commission are also comprised of bigots as well then?

    Only a true bigot screeching in the light of scrutiny could come up with such convoluted nonsense.

  28. Cisoux — on 19th July, 2007 at 10:16 pm  

    Either way, a brilliant piece of reporting by Andrew Gilligan exposing the bigots like Kallidai and his associates. It’s very important that this kind of journalism persists. Excellent work.

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