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Obama's connection with Hindu extremists

category north america / mexico | anti-fascism | non-anarchist press author Tuesday November 11, 2008 10:09author by epoliticusauthor email epoliticus at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

Ms. Sonal Shah joines the Obama-Biden transition project's advisory board

The Obama-Biden transition project has appointed Ms. Sonal Shah as a member of their advisory board. Ms. Shah is a member of the VHP of America and one of its national coordinators. The VHP is directly responsible for the recent mass murder of Christians in the Indian state of Orissa and the pogroms against Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat.

The Obama-Biden transition project has appointed Ms. Sonal Shah as a member of their advisory board. Ms. Shah is the head of Global Development Initiatives at Google, a former official of the U.S. Treasury department, and a former official of the National Security Council. In addition, Ms. Shah is a member of the VHP of America and was one of its national coordinators.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is an organization of the extreme right in India, which aims to promote its ideology of Hindu superiority and nationalism both in India and abroad. Founded in 1964, the V.H.P. aims to bring together "largest possible number of Hindu religious leaders concerned with the future of their religion, culture, and identity." Importantly, the Parishad has direct responsibility for the mass murder of Muslims in the Gujarat pograms of 2002 and Orissa in 2008. This organization promotes political violence against Muslims and Christians in its pursuit of a right-wing politics of Hindu nationalism.

This connection between the Obama-Biden transition project and a member of an organization responsible for the mass murder of Christians in Orissa and Muslims in Gujarat has created a furor in the Indian press for days now (e.g., see The Times of India and Deccan Herald). Three Indian-American organizations have registered a strong protest against her appointment and demanded that she "clarify her position about her association with the VHP and its mother organisation RSS".

We must draw political conclusions for ourselves.

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author by Apalledpublication date Tue Nov 11, 2008 19:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sonal Shah has made her statement. She does not belong to the VHP, the VHP-A, the RSS or any other such group - or any Indian political party, for that matter. She abhors violence and the politics of hatred and division. Her life's work has been dedicated to promoting peace, stability and economic development for people of all creeds, classes and races. (Go ahead, check her record.) In fact, it is her work to raise funds for the victims of the Gujarat earthquake that is being held against her now.

It appears that some people in Shah's family may hold some conservative political beliefs. Well, some people in my family hold conservative political beliefs. Some people in my family hold despicable, vicious political beliefs. Please don't ascribe those beliefs to me. Or to her. Guilt by association just doesn't fly. Or Obama would in fact be a terrorist.

Now, can we please let Shah do her job.

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author by Thomas - ICFpublication date Tue Nov 11, 2008 20:27author email icforum at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Indian Christian Forum (ICF) an umbrella organization for Indian American Christians in US that promotes human rights and religious freedom in India expresses its grave concern to President-elect Obama on the appointment of Sonal Shah as a member of his transition team.
As U.S. residents and citizens, our community values freedom of conscience and freedom of association especially dealing with people's own countries of
origin or their ancestry. However, we strongly feel that this appointment may send a wrong signal to India and its citizens and to the Indian American community in particular as regards the values of freedom and justice we uphold in this great country. Although we feel that no one should be pre-judged on their association, Ms. Sonal Shah's background creates tremendous uneasiness among freedom loving people in our community that overwhelmingly voted for President-elect Obama.

According to Mr. Thomas T. Oommen, President of ICF 'While Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also known as World Hindu Council is currently engaged in killing innocent people and ethnically cleansing Christians from Khandamal District in Orissa, India, it is quite ironic that one of their own past National Coordinators is assuming an important role in the new administration which promised a new emphasis on Human Rights' referring to Ms. Shah's appointment to the transition team. "To date, Ms. Shah and the organization she represented, VHPA (Vishwa Hindu Parishad America) have not once publicly condemned the VHP's violent activities against minorities in India whether it was Gujarat pogrom in 2002 or anti-Christian violence in Orissa in December 2007 or the ongoing violence that started in August 2008"

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) justifies violence against Christians blaming them on conversions. Yet, the real reason behind their actions may be to maintain a caste-based society where people belonging to the lower castes are treated less than human (untouchability – hidden apartheid). Dalits and backward castes are continued to be denied their basic rights as guaranteed by the constitution of India and the upper castes aligned with VHP are engaged in a massive effort to undermine any progress for this downtrodden groups. ICF would like to point out that a segment of the Indian community in U.S. is closely aligned with VHP and their extremist philosophy and we urge the new Administration to mandate a thorough vetting process to weed out these elements who do not share the true American values of human rights, freedom of conscience and justice for all.

It is that of common knowledge that the parent organization of these extremist groups, RSS (Rashtriya Sevak Samaj) was responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi who is revered by President-elect Obama.

It should also be noted that the USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) has condemned the violence against Christians in India by Hindu extremists and
called on the United States State Department to urge India to take decisive
action against the VHP and its affiliates.

Therefore, ICF kindly request the new transition team to reevaluate its decision on this appointment and take appropriate and necessary action. References: Times Of India Report

Hindustan Times Report

Vishwa Hindu Parishad website: Read below she is designated as
National Coordinator

Sonal Shah's disparaging remarks about USA made at the gathering of youth organized by the militant organization

RSS family

Sonal Shah link for Modi visa

Sonal's Dad Ramesh Shah celebrating Modi victory in Houston
http://www.theindia index.php? udn=2008-

IDRF report of funding by NRI sanghi supporters are produced by this

Obama's Indian

Visa Hope for Modi


7341991, Also Sonal Shah, a right-wing VHP activist
Posted by malang, Fri Nov-07-08 12:21 AM

it all evens out, no?

Sonal Shah had been a prominent VHP activist and a National
Coordinator for VHP America.


3) Indicorps and its Sangh affiliations

The South Asian Conference Council (SACC) at Yale University organized
a conference on solidarity in the South Asian community. The objective
was to increase social activism in the South Asian student community.
The conference included panels on youth activism and workers rights
and brought together some very progressive activists in the community
(such as Nahar Alam from Andolan, Saru Jayaraman from Restaurant
opportunities Center of New York, Chandra Bhatnagar from the ACLU to
mention a few). In conflict with this progressive list of speakers,
the organizers also invited Sonal Shah, vice president of Goldman
Sachs and co-founder of Indicorps. According to their website,
"Indicorps is a non-partisan, non-religious, non-profit organization
that encourages Indians around! the world to actively participate in
India's progress." While some of the organizations that Indicorps
works with are indeed secular and progressive, at issue was their
affiliation with organizations of the Sangh parivar. These connections
range from personal affiliation of Sonal Shah with the VHP-A (see,
institutional affiliation of Indicorps with IDRF (IDRF is one of
Indicorps' supporters; see,
Indicorps' involvement with Sangh parivar projects such as Ekal
Vidyalaya (see
Perhaps most questionable was Indicorps' decision to accept an award
from the "butcher of Gujarat" Narendra Modi in November 2004, at a
time when numerous human rights activists have been threatened from
continuing their work (

The conference organizers allowed a couple of progressive youth
collectives (Organizing Youth! and Youth Solidarity Summer) to read a
statement and ask Indicorps to explain their association with the
Sangh Parivar. Far from explaining, Sonal Shah admitted her
affiliation to the VHP-A, claimed that she would take money from
anyone, including the KKK, and used a young Muslim volunteer to claim
that Indicorps was in fact secular. Such is not the kind of solidarity
that one expects from a non-partisan, non-religious organization. In
fact, based on the evidence and Sonal Shah's admission, Indicorps can
be listed as one of many front organizations of the Sangh parivar in
the US. Soon after this public discussion, the Patriotic Sons of
Mother India (a virulent Sangh outfit) posted a defence of Indicorps
by attempting to defame Youth Solidarity Summer as anti-India and anti-
Hindu- typical reaction from the Sangh for one of their own!

This para talks about Sona's aunt who was the Education Minister under
whom the the textbooks that glorified Hitler was published.

Now I feel that there is nothing unethical about highlighting Sonal family's very close ties to the
Sangh Parivar – including with Anandi Behn, the education minister for
Modi (who I understand is Sonal's aunt) under whom the textbooks that
glorified Hitler were published. Highlighting their being on the same
stage with Modi, on the other hand, may not be a very convincing
accusation' - name withheld

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author by I happen to be Christian toopublication date Tue Nov 11, 2008 21:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Almost all the news articles quoted above refer to only one main source for "proof" - an article written by Vijay Prashad in Counterpunch. The article contains factual errors about Shah, and it insinuates non-existent connections between her and VHP. The follow-on articles never bothered to check the facts in Prashad's piece, and they added a couple of mistakes of their own.

Yes, Sonal Shah raised money from VHP-A. For relief efforts to help victims of the Gujarat earthquake in 2001. She was the official coordinator of that particular humanitarian effort. She is not and never was a member of VHP-A (or of VHP, or of the RSS). Shah's parents and siblings are not RSS or VHP members. (Even if the RSS would like to claim the new celebrities for themselves.) And even if they were, that doesn't make her guilty of the same. The entire family has repudiated violence, communalism and the politics of hate and division - through their actions and through official statements.

Shah's NGO, Indicorps, works in Gujarat. How do you get anything done in a BJP-ruled state without dealing with the BJP? That doesn't mean they condone communal politics and violence. For the record, Modi has himself criticized Indicorps (guess why...).

The violence propagated in Gujarat was horrendous beyond belief. Hindu Right extremist continue to foster and commit such violence. It is an outrage that must be stopped. So stop the guilty parties; don't waste your time on the innocent.

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author by epoliticuspublication date Wed Nov 12, 2008 00:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The only comment above with which I agree is that Ms. Shah should not be criticised on account of her family's political associations. On the other hand, the evidence still suggests that her political views correspond with those described in the original article.

author by Tuxxpublication date Wed Nov 12, 2008 15:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sonal Shah was the national coordinator for VHP-America? How is that guilt by association? If anything, this is guilt by participation!

Further, Sonal was the national coordinator for VHPA for the 2001 Gujarat Earthuake relief - money she raised that was eventually sent to VHP in India. Amnesty International, HRW and other rights organizations as well as Indian news media have widely documented the gross discrimination against minorities that VHP indulged in the distribution of relief aid, including stealing aid from minorities and beating them up - so when Sonal Shah says she is proud of her role in this fundraising, she is indicting her own self thru her rebuttal.

What is more, most of IndiCorps [NGO she founded] work is done in Gujarat. Not only did she care less about the victims of the Gujarat massacres that were orchestrated by Narendra Modi, but she got her IndiCorps volunteers felicitated by Narendra Modi but her brother Anand also likewise accepted an award from the devil himself.

So, what part of Shah being in bed with Hindu extremists is not clear?

author by be sensiblepublication date Fri Nov 14, 2008 09:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

how do we all who voted obama for a change and thought he stood against racism bigotry and corrup policies, bring to his attention the state sponsored genocide that took place in 2002 gujarat and Sonal Shah her brother Anand their parents Ramesh an kokila links to the VHP BJP and RSS political parties that carried out the genicide of Muslims. The atrocities against christians recently in Orissa should be briefed to Obama so that he could get a deep insight into the sleeping hindu cells that are rapidly growing in U.S.
The money trails of Hindus from US to India should be traced and examined too by the Obama gov and he will come to know about the gravity of the impacts his policies and decisions regarding selecting sonal shah and supporting her likes, can have on the minorities

Obama and his team must be very wary before appointing people like Sonal Shah. Obama has an obligation towards not just Americans who supported him but also towards the greater oppressed world

moreover why has Google hired an employee like her

obama must be true to his promises and not decieve

author by epoliticuspublication date Sun Nov 16, 2008 05:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It now appears that Ms. Shah is not presently a member of VHP of America, but had been for some years (i.e., three or more years) until not too long ago. The interested reader can find more information at the webpage shown below.

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