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Thursday, August 18, 2005

AIDing & abetting communists

By Dharam Singh

At the time of this article, over 150,000 people have lost their lives and several million have been rendered homeless in Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Africa by the horrible tsunamis unleashed by the 9.0 earthquake on Dec. 26.

During this time of crisis, there has been an incredible outpouring of sympathy and compassion from the entire world community. People from all religions and nationalities have come forward to help with relief and rehabilitation efforts. Some of these organizations have a well-established record of accountability, credibility and integrity. However, there are some organizations working in the affected areas that have displayed suspicious behavior and whose credibility deserves questioning.

The organization in question is Association for India�s Development (AID or AID-India). AID is at the forefront of the fund-raising drive in the United States for relief efforts in South India. On its website, it claims to be a �voluntary non-profit organization committed to promoting sustainable, equitable and just development in India, by working with grassroots organizations and movements in India�.

The �grassroots� organizations that AID says it is working with in the relief efforts include: People�s Health Movement (PHM), Tamil Nadu Science Forum (TNSF), Pondicherry Science Forum (PSF), Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vritidarula Union (APVVU), the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and the Student Federation of India (SFI).

All of the above are communist or leftist organizations. DYFI is, in fact, the youth wing of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M). But what concerns us about this organization more than its ideology is its violent and criminal background. Initially, DYFI was listed in the AID relief reports from Chennai as an affiliate with which AID volunteers were working with. However, within a few days, after donors started asking questions about the connection on various websites, weblogs and mailing lists, all references to DYFI had been removed from AID�s website. Why would AID go to such lengths to hide its connection with DYFI? Perhaps this short list, by no means exhaustive, of DYFI�s past activities will provide the answer:

In November, 2004, eight DYFI activists were convicted and sentenced to life for murdering a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist. In August, 2003, DYFI activists were involved in violent incidents in Kerala, e.g. stone pelting police, bombing offices, etc.. In May, 2002, DYFI cadres beat up a respected teacher in West Bengal. In January, 2002, DYFI workers were arrested in connection with violence between two religious communities in Kerala that resulted in the deaths of 5 people. In August, 1997, over 400 DYFI volunteers went on a rampage in Chennai, stoning buses and looting shops.

It is clear that DYFI is not just the youth wing of a political party but also a violent, communal and criminal organization. It is with such an organization that AID is working with in their relief efforts!

Another interesting development occurred after a few days of the disappearance of all references to DYFI on AID�s website: AID has now put an FAQ question on their website addressing their connection with DYFI . Did AID realize that their deliberate attempt at hiding their association with DYFI was damaging their reputation?

In the FAQ, AID claims �DYFI does not receive any funds either from AID or AID-India. It is one of the youth organizations whose volunteers are involved in the relief work.� However, in a blog by Amit Varma that is being published on Rediff.com, Varma writes �DYFI suffers from the drawback of not having a high profile and, consequently, having rather low funds. But AID takes care of that.� We shall leave it to the readers to interpret what �that� means.

AID is also working with the Students Federation of India (SFI) to rebuild two villages in Tamil Nadu. SFI is the student wing (not to be confused with the �youth� wing: DYFI) of the CPI-M, and it has been involved in not only violent and criminal activities like DYFI, but has even displayed treacherous tendencies. Here�s another list detailing some of the �grassroots� activities of SFI:

In December, 2004, SFI voted against a resolution condemning China for repeatedly showing Arunachal Pradesh as not being a part of India at the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union meeting. In August, 2002, SFI cadres beat up students belonging to Rabindra Bharati University for being �inappropriately dressed�. In July, 2002, SFI students were allegedly behind an article appearing in a college magazine in Kerala that praised Osama bin Laden as the �crusader of the poor Muslims the world over�. In September, 2001, 31 SFI activists were arrested on charges of �public property destruction, unlawful assembly and violation of the Explosives Act�. In November, 1996, SFI workers murdered several BJP and ABVP workers in Kerala after a friendly leftist state government came to power.

Despite such an extensive violent, criminal, communal and treacherous background of both SFI and DYFI, AID is still willing to work with these two openly communist organizations in the relief efforts. Is this relationship one of necessity or deliberate choice? What other skeletons does AID have hiding in its closet?

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