Chapter I. Background

The Forum of Inquilabi Leftists (FOIL) (formerly known as the Forum of Indian Leftists) is a group of Marxists/Communists professors, activists and individuals; the group’s origins date back to the late 1980s / early 1990s.  FOIL’s founding fathers are Biju Mathew and Vijay Prashad, both well-known Marxists/Communists who write in far-left leaning publications as well in People’s Democracy, a weekly mouthpiece of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). In a December 1995 note in their newsletter Sanskriti, Prashad and Mathew discuss the idea of establishing the forum, as “…a clearing-house for radical Indian activists in the United States, Canada and England… [to] help build projects that make [their] radical politics more material.”[1]  From the domain registration records, their website seems to have been first registered on December 15, 1997, by Rajasekhar Ramakrishnan, a researcher at Columbia University[2] and Secretary-Treasurer of the SINGH (not to be confused with the Sikh and Hindu last name of Singh) Foundation[3].  Also named PROXSA (Progressive South Asians), the forum of over 300 Marxist/Communist activists[4] is the mother of several organizations and blogs, magazines and forums that have been started or inspired by individual members of FOIL.

Other prominent personalities like Angana Chatterji, whose views are discussed later in the report, are also affiliated with FOIL and its sister organizations.

FOIL’s members subscribe to a strong belief that Marxism/ Communism is the solution to problems created by capitalist imperialism led by the US, Zionist interests led by Israel and Hindu ‘nationalist’ interests led by ‘Hindu fascists’.  Thus, FOIL established this ‘clearinghouse’ to discuss and disseminate specific political ideas and agendas that provide a Marxist/Communist view of Indians and India.  Unfortunately, only Hindu Indians in India and abroad bear the brunt of FOIL’s biased perspectives and studies.  Hinduism, as understood and practiced by a majority of Hindu temples, organizations, and families both in India and abroad (e.g. USA), is mythically reduced to an oppressive, non-pluralistic religion practiced by hegemonic ‘upper-caste’ sections of the society.  FOIL looks at NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) and Hindus with a cynical view and any efforts by these groups to defend biases against Hinduism, Hindus or India are automatically reduced to extremist, ‘Yankee Hindutva’, right-wing, etc. agendas attacking ‘free speech’.  Members of FOIL go so far as to call Hindu deities as colonizers, whose lives are “…filled with outrageous kinds of deceit, manipulations, selfishness and greed’[5]. It is important to note that most of the members of FOIL and its sister organizations that make such claims have no background or specialization in Hinduism, Hindu Scriptures, Indic Traditions, Sanskrit, Linguistics, Archaeology, Genetics, etc. They merely use their Hindu names as if speaking for Hindus, or rely on biased opinions of other Marxist Scholars or American University Professors with questionable writings and backgrounds.  This is illustrated later in the report.

FOIL’s negative views on Hinduism and India find companionship in various Islamist and Christian Missionary organizations in the US as well as in India who have their own agendas.  Together, as the report shows, these individuals and organizations lend each other credibility and demonize Hindus and India via various symposiums, ‘human rights conferences’, presentations in front of government bodies and political figures, as well as spreading false propaganda via popular media.  This is also illustrated in Figure 1 below.  As the model shows, the nexus starts with an already prejudiced agenda and then cultivates this further by holding events, creating reports and documentaries and inviting biased personalities to solidify pejorative opinions and outlook on India and Hinduism.  The end results are venomous.  For example, thanks to the constant lobbying of the nexus, in 2007, the United Nations deemed India as the first country to be evaluated for various human rights violations.  Similarly, the nexus concocted a nefarious propaganda against various Hindu groups, including Hindu parents, and destroyed their attempts to give Hinduism an equal platform versus other religions in 6th grade California textbooks.  In the same manner, the nexus spewed venom against Hindu organizations such as the India Development and Relief Fund as well as the Hindu Students Council with half-baked truths, out of context statements and libelous statements.

  1. Figure 1 – A Model of How the Nexus Manufactures Anti-India/Anti-Hindu Views and Shapes World Opinion

  2. Section 1.01 A Spotlight on Prominent FOIL Members and Their Affiliates

    1. Romila Thapar

    2. Vijay Prashad

    3. Biju Mathew

    4. Angana Chatterji

    5. Vinay Lal

    6. Meera Nanda


[1] Vijay Prashand and Biju Mathew, “FOIL”,  Sanskriti, December 25, 1995,  http://www.proxsa.org/resources/sanskriti/dec95/foil.html, accessed June 16, 2011

[3] http://www.singhfoundation.org/, accessed June 16, 2011

[4] See “Forum of Indian Leftists”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forum_of_Indian_Leftists, accessed June 16, 2011

[5] Balmurli Natrajan, “Letter to a Progressive Hindu”, SAMAR, Issue 28, February 28, 2008, http://samarmagazine.org/archive/articles/255, accessed June 16, 2011

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