I am feeling perplexed by this organization, Indicorps. Below is some
of the polemic that comes across in the debate. As I am part of the
International Development Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS, it is a funded
internship I am being pushed to apply for though I feel uncomfortable
with all this controversy. If anyone has more thoughts and reflections
please do let me know.
Following what you heard about indicorps I found this on the website of
some activists http://www.stopfundinghate.org/, related to the alleged
connections of this NGO with VHP and RSS. More information are provided
below, and links. Actually indicorps's involvement with fundamentalist
groups seems to be based just on funding ( most of which come from the
nationalists, sangh parivar)something which could blur its well known
secular and highly progressive structure. The ambiguity lies in its
founder's involvement, this Sonal Sha, whose affiliation with VHP is
I suggest you to find more on the issue, get documented, and be careful
your decisions, when the time will come.
and you were right, it is not a casualty that people in JHU pushed you
join this organization, on the base of your ethnic background and
tokenized identity. it gives me the creeps, but on the other side one is
also curious to explore the contextuality of it all.
This could be also an issue if discussion and debate for your seminars.
good. take care always.
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
Nahar Alam from Andolan, Saru Jayaraman from Restaurant opportunities
Center of New York, Chandra Bhatnagar from the ACLU to mention a few).
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!
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
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
Perhaps most questionable was Indicorps’ decision to accept an award
the “butcher of Gujarat” Narendra Modi in November 2004, at a time when
numerous human rights activists have been threatened from continuing
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
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!