Association for India’s Development (AID)

AID was started in 1991 by a graduate student from University of Maryland.  The organization describes itself as “a volunteer movement promoting sustainable, equitable and just development. AID supports grassroots organizations in India and initiates efforts in various interconnected spheres such as agriculture, energy, education, health, livelihoods, natural resources including land and water, women’s empowerment and social justice.”[1]  AID aims to bring about positive social change within India by addressing the various socio-economic issues at the grassroots level.  Thus, one can surmise from such statements that AID is apolitical and secular and focuses solely on the underprivileged citizens of India regardless of their religious or political affiliations.  In fact, it is precisely such statements and portrayals that attract several well-meaning volunteers and donors to AID.  Strikingly, some well documented evidence presented below from AID’s own volunteers and sources demonstrates that AID supports Marxist/Communist organizations (some with known criminal activities) and ideology in the name of development.  It is even more disturbing that these links have been removed by AID from its website to hide these connections.

The 50 Block Plan (for Tamilnadu) was a project sponsored in part by AID in Tamilnadu, “up economically self –reliant Tamil Nadu Science Forum units in 50 blocks in the state of Tamil Nadu by the end of 2001.”[2]  The focus of activities of Tamil Nadu Science Forum (TSF) was: to support credit cooperatives; libraries and information centers and Health interventions or/and interventions for universalizing elementary education.[3] However, in developing the library centers, AID is very selective on whom the library should be linked to.  It asserts:  “As a policy encourage libraries only where linked to such an activity or to an active TNSF/AIDWA/DYFI/PWA group or activist.”[4]

Who are these groups?  AIDWA, or All India Democratic Women Association, is the women’s wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM).  Brinda Karat, the veteran Communist leader and member of CPIM[5] and former General Secretary of AIDWA for several years[6], gave the keynote speech at the 25th Anniversary celebration of AIDWA.  DYFI, or Democratic Youth Federation of India, is the youth wing of CPIM.[7]  On the death of veteran Communist giant and leader Jyoti Basu, the Central Executive Committee of DYFI issued a press release and homage, expressing “its profound grief at the passing away of one of the tallest leaders of the Communist Movement of India”[8].  Furthermore, it saluted “‘the memory of Comrade Jyoti Basu”.[9]  Similarly, homages have been paid for other CPIM leaders such as Harkishan Singh Surjeet and pledging that both DYFI and SFI (Student Federation of India) “will always upheld (sic) the ideology and principles for which comrade Surjeet dedicated his life…Red Salute to Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet.”[10] SFI is the student wing of CPIM (not to be confused with the youth wing). In 2008, DYFI called for an immediate resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for signing the nuclear deal with the United States, calling it a “misdemeanor [that] was a serious compromise on India’s foreign policy and on [its] National sovereignty.”[11]

DYFI is also known for its abuse of law and order threatening individuals who speak out against its activities.  In 2008, four activists of DYFI and three members of CPIM were taken into custody by police in Kerala for substance abuse.  When brought to the police station, they abused the Sub-Inspector.[12] In 2010, DYFI threatened famous fiction writer and columnist Paul Zachariah after he made some remarks criticizing the group. “According to the writer, hey took away the car key and pushed him around, threatening him that if he ever dared to step into Payyannur again, he would not go back alive.”[13]

Dharam Singh, writing for India Herald in the wake of the 2005 Tsunami, outlines several criminal and shocking activities of DYFI:

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.[14]

Singh, in the same article points out SFI’s positions on various criminal and anti-national matters:

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.[15]

AID has often claimed that it doesn’t fund the activities of DYFI.  However, their close association with DYFI was again highlighted by a journalist Amit Varma.  In 2005, Varma, writing an article in Rediff, praised AID’s work and marked that “DYFI suffers from the drawback of not having a high profile and, consequently, having rather low funds. But AID takes care of that.”[16]

In 2005, Feroz Mehdi, writing for a Canadian newspaper called Alternatives on a tour of areas hit with the Tsunami, describes meeting with the director of AID India Mr. M.A. Devdas.  He elaborates on the ‘strategic partnership’ by various Communist organizations and AID, as follows:

The groups associated with the CPM and the All India Peoples Science Movement have reached a strategic alliance with AID by implementing relief measures and taking up mid and long term rehabilitation work.  While the material purchase and construction is done by AID, the human power is provided by over a thousand volunteers of the AIPSN [All India Peoples Science Movement], SFI (Student Federation of India), DYFI (Democratic Youth Federation of India), AIDWA (All India Democratic Women’s Association) and TNSF [Tamil Nadu Science Forum] itself.[17]

And, who is the Alternatives newspaper associated with?  A Whois.Net search conducted on August 06, 2005 revealed that the website of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) was registered under Alternatives with the address as 3680, rue Jeanne-Meance, Montreal, QUEBEC, H2X 2K5, CA[18]  Thus, the connection between AID and various Communist/Marxist parties turns out to be much stronger than AID would like its donors and volunteers to believe.  One can argue that during times of disaster, everyone should forget their political/religious ideologies and work together.  However, if such connections were found between Hindu aid organizations and parties like the BJP, the Communist/Marxist organizations listed in this report would have raised a huge outcry and accuse Indian charities of ‘fascism’ or ‘communalism’ or ‘funding hatred’ (as they did with IDRF).

Lastly, PWA or Progressive Writers Association is an organization of Marxist/Communist writers and poets.  It was started in 1936 by three members of the Communist Party of India.[19]  PWA’s political views are highlighted at their 13th Annual National Conference, held in the year 2003.  During the conference, they declared: “[the] gravest threat the nation was facing today…was the `fascist menace’: of Hindutva at the national level and the war-mongering American imperialism at the international level. And if you see closely, the cultural nationalism of the Hindutva brigade was hand in gloves with the forces of imperialism…”[20]

In 1999, AID’s Dallas, Texas Chapter, drafting its August 1st 1999 meeting minutes, discussed updates of various projects.  In one of the proposals submitted to purchase some camcorders and other recording equipment, Balaji Sampath, one of the key AID volunteers in India seems particularly disturbed at watching the Deepa Mehta movie 1947-Earth. He then connects partition events shown in the movie with the “dangers of Hindu Rashtra (nation)” and how this “will soon lead to a fascist India (the stands of people [especially] middle class is becoming crystallized very fast).  When history reviews our role, it will hold us responsible for not having prevented it.”[21]  He goes on further to explain how he plans to use the camcorders.  One of his thoughts is to “take shots of partition, of fascism in Germany and compare the two and point towards the communal danger haunting India”[22]  Thus, mixed in with documentaries about rural programs and development projects, AID’s volunteers create video to heighten communal tensions and blackball the entire middle class Hindu community in India.  It is as if Hindus are the only ones and always responsible for communal discord in India.  Judged by the views of AID, Hindus are solely responsible for the partition of India and the massive riots that took place afterwards.

Another correspondence highlighted in the same meeting minutes is about which books to purchase for kids in India.  Sampath cautions about buying second hand books from stores, saying to “[never] purchase children’s books (story books, etc) – it is not easy to tell which is useful and which is not.”[23]  Sampath, however, recommends a series of books that AID volunteers need to purchase:

b) Purchase all the following: (first two very good and useful)

—> All books (multiple copies ok) by Micheal Apple, Ivan Ilich (Deeschooling Scoeity (sic) and After Deschooling), Philippe Aries (Social history of Childhood), John Holt, Maria Montessori, Danger: School, and all books on educational expts (the ones that fight against the system of education, not for it) in the US.

—> All Cartoon Books in the Beginners series – Marx for beginners, Budhha for Beginners, Trotsky for beginners, Einstien for beginners, Totstoy (sic) for beginners, Freud for beginners, Lenin for beginners, Ecology for beginners, etc.[24]

Thus, Marxist/Communist education books are cleverly mixed in with the works on Einstein and Buddha.  It is important to ask why AID is dictating education that is influenced by a particular ideology.

The Penn State Chapter of AID published a report by Balaji Sampath about his work in 1997 through 1999.  Under the section, Ideological and Awareness Work, Sampath is very clear about his Marxist/Communist worldview: “The ideas of power, politics, hegemony, social consciousness, how people think, struggle, Marxist analysis techniques, etc that I have learnt are now a part of me.”[25]  Similarly, in the report Sampath also highlighted his efforts in the US organizational side and how he tried to bring greater interaction with Asha (Asha for Education, discussed below) and ILP (India Literacy Project) “through joint projects, reviews and joint articles getting them to interact more often and on more things – because fundementally (sic) they are not very different and have a very similar volunteer base.”[26]  Indeed, Sampath provides several examples of partnerships between AID and Asha in the article as well as in the meeting minutes of Dallas AID chapter discussed above.

Other Activities of AID

Besides have connections with violent Communist organizations in India, some of AID’s activities in the US also bear close examination.  This is extremely important because AID’s major donations are paid by American donors who would balk if they are made aware of AID’s Communist connections as discussed above as well as the activities the various activities discussed next.

AID has organized several events with FOSA, as discussed earlier.  These events have featured members of FOIL such as Biju Matthew, Vijay Prashad, Angana Chatterji and many others.

In 2003, AID organized an event at the University of Minnesota titled Violence and Religious Extremism: Reflections on the Human Condition in the 21st Century.[27]  The main speaker of the event was none other than FOIL’s Vinay Lal.  More disturbingly, one of co-sponsors was the controversial Islamic organization Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).  Why is CAIR so controversial?  Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum points out that in 1998, CAIR demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama bin Laden as ‘the sworn enemy,’ finding this depiction ‘offensive to Muslims.’[28]Similarly, according to Pipes, “[the] conviction of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing [CAIR] deemed ‘a travesty of justice.’ The conviction of Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh who planned to blow up New York City landmarks, it called a ‘hate crime’.”[29]  Pipes further points out that “the San Ramon Valley Herald [reported that] CAIR Chairman Omar M. Ahmad told a crowd of California Muslims in July 1998, ‘Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran . . . should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.’”[30]  According to a 2004 article in the National Post, “CAIR’s first executive director, Nihad Awad, publicly declared himself a supporter of Hamas at a 1994 forum at Barry University in Florida”.[31]  Similarly, according to the National Post, “Randall Todd Royer, a communications specialist at CAIR’s Washington headquarters, pleaded guilty in January, 2004, to belonging to the Kashmiri Lashkar-i-Taibi (sic) terrorist group and illegally acquiring firearms and explosives in order to train for terrorist missions against India. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.”[32]  Does AID not know these publicly available facts or does it blindly ignore these?

In conclusion, AID’s Communist/Marxist connections are more than just casual or coincidental.  AID seems to wear the garb of non-political/non-ideological development.  Yet, the examples above point out the fact that AID is working hand-in-glove with various Communist/Marxist organizations in the US and in India.  Some of these organizations have been found guilty of criminal activities as well as openly advocate violence.  Furthermore, why is AID working with questionable Islamic organizations known for their anti-US remarks and terrorist links?


[1] http://www.aidindia.org/main/, accessed July 13, 2011

[2] “The 50 Block Plan (For Tamilnadu)”, http://www.geocities.com/aid_india_info/doc1.pdf, page 1, accessed July 13, 2011

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.[2], page 2

[5] See entry in Wikipedia on Brinda Karat at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brinda_Karat, accessed July 13, 2011

[6] See the press release by AIDWA on its 25 year celebration at  http://aidwaonline.org/content/aidwa_speaks/present_topics.php?refid=asp007, accessed July 13, 2011

[7] “Writer threatened by CPI-M youth activists”, Indo Asian News Service, January 10, 2010, http://www.india-forums.com/news/politics/221043-writer-theatened-by-cpi-m-youth-activists.htm, accessed July 13, 2011

[8] “DYFI HOMAGE TO COMRADE JYOTI BASU”, http://www.dyfi.in/content.php?action=press-detail&press_id=25&title=Press%20Release, accessed July 13, 2011.

[9] Ibid.

[10] “DYFI and SFI PAY RESPECTFUL HOMAGE TO COMRDE HARKISHAN SINGH SURJEET”, August 1, 2008, http://www.dyfi.in/content.php?action=press-detail&press_id=7&title=Press Release,  accessed July 13, 2011

[11] “PM SHOULD RESIGN IMMEDIATELY”, September 8, 2008, http://www.dyfi.in/content.php?action=press-detail&press_id=15&title=Press%20Release,  accessed July 13, 2011

[12] “DYFI, CPI(M) activists booked”, The Hindu, online edition, May 26, 2008  http://www.hindu.com/2008/05/26/stories/2008052651520300.htm, accessed July 13, 2011

[13] “Writer threatened (sic) by CPI-M youth activists”, Indo Asian News Service, January 10, 2010, http://www.india-forums.com/news/politics/221043-writer-theatened-by-cpi-m-youth-activists.htm, accessed July 13, 2011

[14] Dharam Singh, AIDing & abetting communists, http://india-herald.com/aiding-abetting-communists-p608-1.htm, India Herald  accessed July 13, 2011

[15] Ibid.

[16] Amit Varma, “This will also slip away from public memory”, January 3, 2005, http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/jan/03amit3.htm,  accessed July 13, 2011

[17] Feroz Mehdi, “Tamil Nadu in the wake of Tsunami”, January 20, 2005, page 2,  http://www.geocities.com/aid_india_info/doc37.pdf, accessed July 13, 2011

[19] Priyamvada Gopal, “A Forgotten History”, Outlook India Online edition, December 6, 2007 http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?236191, accessed July 13, 2011

[20] “Rallying around for issues”, The Hindu online edition, April 17, 2003, http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/mp/2003/04/17/stories/2003041701300200.htm, accessed July 13, 2011.

[21] “Equipment Purchase Proposal AID-India”, page 20, http://www.geocities.com/aid_india_info/doc2.pdf, accessed July 13, 2011

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.[21], page 21

[24] Ibid.[21], page 21

[25] Balaji Sampath, “My Work Report From August 1997 – August,1999”, page 37,   http://www.geocities.com/aid_india_info/doc33.pdf, accessed July 13, 2011

[26] Ibid., page 38

[28] Daniel Pipes, “CAIR: ‘Moderate’ friends of terror, April 22, 2002, http://www.danielpipes.org/394/cair-moderate-friends-of-terror,  accessed July 13, 2011

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.[28]

[31] David Frum, “The Question of CAIR”, November 23, 2004, http://www.aei.org/article/21599, accessed July 13, 2011

[32] Ibid.

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