A rejoinder from Shri Shyam Parande, Secretary, Sewa International, India.
Desolate leftists, having failed to impress and influence the general public in India, with decades of slanderous propaganda against the Sangh and other noble activities of the Swayamsevaks, have now embarked on a campaign of deceit abroad. They stand discredited in India for their attempts to misguide and misinform the public, hence their foray into a new territory with malicious intentions. And this time around it is a dodgy cocktail of the leftists?Awaaz South Asia Watch?and the Islamists, like Ahmed Patel, a member of the House of Lords in UK.
Sewa International has been blamed for constructing schools of Vidya Bharati. The report, In Bad Faith?British Charity and Hindu Extremism claims, ?31 per cent of the funds have been used for two schools run by Vidya Bharati.? The fact is that out of the 62 schools constructed by Sewa Bharati, Gujarat in the first phase of reconstruction, 65 were government schools. Some private institutions run two other schools. And the construction of these 59 schools have consumed more than 85 per cent of the amount earmarked for the construction of classrooms and school buildings. Here one is tempted to ask, ?Which 31 per cent of funds is the report talking about??
Reconstruction of villages was totally guided by the Government of Gujarat and the voluntary organisations were supposed to reconstruct houses as per the norms set by the state government. They had little choice in selection of villages. Sewa Bharati, Gujarat had stated that they would allot 10 out of 25 villages that the state government was supposed to allot to Sewa Bharati. It received 14 villages and naturally the number of villages for Sewa International was reduced to six. The accusation that the British public were fooled into believing that 10 villages were to be funded but only six were reconstructed does not stand any water. Had Sewa Bharati been allotted 25 villages by the state government, 10 villages would have been shared by SIUK, without doubt. All the NGOs were to be awarded some villages and this was carried out by the state government.
Sewa International, UK is a project of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), UK and the allegation is that the donors were not informed about this relationship. However, the literature distributed during the fund-raising campaign clearly explains the relationship. Many British citizens joined the campaign consciously, apart from the NRI-PIO community, and among them were some Parliamentarians too. ?Most of the people joined the earthquake relief campaign being aware of the past record and the above-mentioned relationship,? said Shanti Bhai Mistry, Chairman of Sewa International UK.
Sewa International has also been accused of funding Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram through Sewa Bharati, Gujarat. The audited reports submitted to the Charity Commissioner in UK amply prove that no such funding took place.
Sewa Bharati, Gujarat has served the minorities without discrimination during the relief activities and the Indian media appreciated it. It may be recalled that photographs of RSS Swayamsevaks serving in Masjid Hajipur was published by the media. India Today reported in its issue of 2 February, 2001: , ?In the absence of the official machinery in Kutch, it was the RSS-VHP brigade that helped rescue people, nurse the wounded and even carry bodies for the last rites. On January 29, the residents of Nanireldi, a Muslim-dominated village in Kutch, virtually starving since the day of the quake, were pleasantly surprised to see a batch of RSS and VHP workers land with foodgrains, clothes and medicines. Said Abha Ibrahimbhai: ?I could never imagine that the RSS and VHP workers would come to our rescue?.?
A 51-member delegation, representing some 40 organisations in the UK that had joined hands with Sewa International, UK for fund raising in 2001, visited Gujarat from 27 to 31 January 2004. The delegates visited as many villages and schools that they could during the period and were overwhelmed by the rehabilitation measures adopted Sewa Bharati, Gujarat within a very short span of time. The delegates heartily welcomed the efforts of Sewa International, UK and Sewa Bharati, Gujarat for their role in enormous task of rehabilitating the earthquake-affected victims in the Kutch.