AICU president suspects Hindu charitable trust of forming anti–Christian schools for Indian tribals

Published 19 July 2005  |  
New Delhi – The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of India or EVFI (http://www.ekal.org), a popular charitable trust that initiates, supports, and runs non–formal one–teacher schools (popularly known as Ekal Vidyalayas) all over India is being suspected as a front for the sinister designs of right–wing Hindu outfits that plan to establish anti–Christian schools in the tribal belt of India, Christian Today has confirmed.

John Dayal, a member of the National Integration Council of the Government of India and the president of All India Catholic Union voiced his concerns recently that EVFI's Ekal Vidyalaya's ('One–Teacher–Schools') is spreading hatred towards the Christian minority in the guise of "providing education to tribal people," to prevent conversions of tribals to Christianity by missionaries.

According to the EVFI website, the Ekal Vidyalaya movement aims to help eradicate illiteracy from rural and tribal India by 2012. To date, Ekal Vidyalaya is a movement of over 13,000 teachers, 2,500 voluntary workers, 20 field organizations (scattered in 20 Indian states), and 6 support agencies.

With this tremendous human force, the Ekal Vidyalaya movement strives to create a network of non–formal schools that will “educate and empower children in rural and tribal India.”

With the participation of numerous non–profit trusts and organizations, the Ekal Vidyalaya movement boasts of becoming the greatest non–governmental education movement in the country.

Registered as a charitable trust in 1999, EVFI has established its base all over India and has spread rapidly throughout the tribal belt of the nation, viz., Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. In the year 2000–2001, EVFI was established in New Delhi. From December of 2001, a CEO was appointed to look after the trust's activities. In January 2001, the EVFI began fundraising and soon, thereafter, FCRA was granted to this educational trust to receive foreign contributions.

According to John Dayal, the EVFI website boasts of its links with Hindu right–wing group, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Seva Bharati, a group associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a well–known Hindu fundamentalist outfit.

“The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of India and America are working earnestly, hand–in–hand, to help raise the funds necessary to build 100,000 non–formal schools across the tribal belt by the year 2012,” said John Dayal, pointing out that the education program which expose innocent children to to lessons about Hindu symbols, saints, patriots and deities may distort the minds of these students and foment religious fanaticism.

Citing “reliable sources,” Dayal said that the EVFI “is using the Internet and the electronic media” to raise funds for the schools. “To help it sell its appeal for funds, the Ekal school group has now roped in the Zee Television media group,” he added.

Indeed, EVFI boasts of big names like billionaire Mr. Subhash Chandra of ZEE TV media group, Justice (retd.) P.N. Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of Supreme Court of India, Dr. L.M. Sanghvi, noted jurist, parliamentarian and former ambassador to the U.S. and other eminent industrialists and celebrities as its trustees. According to John Dayal, this is done to bring in foreign funds and set up tribal schools that may foment religious hatred and communal violence.

The controversial Hindu schools have so far mainly received funds from NRIs (Non Resident Indians) living abroad, especially in the United States, where the US arm of the educational trust have appealed for money on its website. "For a dollar–a–day, or $365 per year, one Ekal Vidyalaya can be sponsored," it claimed.

According to news sources, with permission from US authorities, the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of America (http://www.ekalus.org/) sponsored 1,250 schools in the year 2001 alone. It also received "wide support from [Indian] state and central governments during the regime of the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, which lost power last year in May," John Dayal explained.

The EVFI website boasts that 451644 students are enrolled in its educational program that is being conducted in 14709 schools. Karyakartas (or tribal volunteers), numbering into thousands recently took a sankalp (or pledge) to establish 100,000 Ekal Vidyalayas by 2011.

According to the website, there are over 1407 schools in Jharkhand, 932 in Orissa, 903 in Uttar Pradesh, 2293 in Madhya Pradesh, 840 in Maharashtra, 950 in Chhattisgarh, and 750 in Rajasthan and Gujarat (combined) alone. Incidentally, these states are well–known strongholds of Hindu fundamentalist parties and infamous for the atrocities that have been perpetrated on minority communities.

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