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Raj Vidya Kender, TPRF and Disaster Funding
 Posted by: NikW
 Date: 01/04/2005, 07:39:19
 Original URL: Click here (However, the link may be stale.)

"Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it" (G.Satayana or W.Churchill - take your pick)

Raj Vidya Kender is Rawat's very own creation - Divine United Organisation, the DUO name was only dropped a couple of years ago, the organisation adopting the name of its Delhi ashram - yes ashram ! the very institution where Jagdeo was accommodated until he became too embarrassing.

RVK has no legal status other than being an 'Association' registered with the Indian Government - this process of registration is an inheritance from Imperial days when the British Raj in an effort to control political development placed limits on free association by permitting only certain organisations to exist. The present legal arrangements provide only that registered Associations produce audited accounts - there is no official oversight of the auditing process.

As an Association RVK is under no limitations as to how it uses money given to it, there are no limitations on its resources being used to benefit its members, nor are there any inhibitions on the commercial and financial relationships that RVK may enter into. Apart from the maintenance of the Delhi ashram, RVK's main activity is servicing the events in India which Rawat attends - as part of that RVK runs a mass catering. RVK operates primarily within the larger conurbations of northern India where it sources its catering supplies from regular commercial operations, its events are policed by the local civil authorities - as RVK events are most frequently held in conjunction with local Hindu festivals the local authorities simply absorb policing of RVK events within the wider festival operations. RVK has no obvious capacities in managing bulk transport, in dealing with disaster management, disease control, operating in communication deprived areas, operating outside of Hindu speaking areas, co-operation with NGO's or operating in areas where civil authority is absent.

TPRF is seeking 'tsunami relief' donations on the basis that RVK is a suitable entity to provide food aid in (unspecified) areas of India which have been affected. TPRF claims that "TPRF/RVK(sic) volunteers are assessing need". Two obvious questions arise - Why is TPRF a US based 'Educational' Foundation seeking to fund a private Association with no track record in any of the key areas of expertise required for effective disaster operation ? and Why (even supposing they are capable) are TPRF/RVK volunteers 'assessing need' when India has not only a sophisticated civil administration capable of rapidly gathering information - but also a very well established system of co-operation between both Indian and foreign based NGOs ?

It is very difficult to see the TPRF/RVK 'tsunami initiative' as not being self serving - it may not be- but it seems so obviously flawed that the only other explanation is that TPRF/RVK is driven by an arrogant disregard for the expertise that other organisations clearly possess and which TPRF and RVK do not.

One of the key aspects to the good administration of a charitable fund is that the trustees or their appointed 'grants committees' must be independent of the organisations which receive the grants. The creation of TPRF offered Rawat and his entourage the opportunity to do things differently, yet the TPRF - RVK connection displays all the symptoms of past problems - an incestuous relationship between organisations whose focus is not on any wider 'philanthropic' outcome but upon Prem Rawat. If TPRF is serious about becoming a funder of 'humanitarian relief' then it should immediately seek to appoint two additional independent directors who have the necessary skills and experience to advise on effective operation in funding humanitarian relief.

An earlier thread on the TPRF/RVK 'tsunami initiative' referred to threats about defamation proceedings because - TPRF had been 'impugned', one interesting aspect is that those issuing the threats seem to be relying on legal judgements regarding the jurisdictions where actions for 'Internet defamation' can take place. There have been a number of judicial decisions that have said, unlike printed libel - where the action would usually be confined to the country/state where the libel was published - Internet libel can be actionable in any jurisdiction where the libel is 'received'. A consequence of this is that, while a US citizen for instance may feel protected by their constitutional right to free speech - a court in another country would be unlikely to recognise that right. In practical terms though a defamation action would have to take place in a jurisdiction which had some authority over the defendant - there's no extradition for libel !

Linking an internationally active Foundation with the terms of 'Internet defamation' may not actually do much for those threatening defamation action - after all if defamation is actionable in the jurisdiction in which it is received - then the role of a charity could arguably be tested within the terms of the jurisdiction where it is received. Thus as TPRF, an Internet based operation, is 'received' by me in the UK, I can reasonably conclude that I am entitled to judge it within the terms of a UK Charity - and heap upon it consequent criticism. Anyone from TPRF or RVK is free to post on this forum - present clarification of its activities and invite me to alter my criticism. One of the things that those threatening defamation seem to have overlooked is that the test for defamation of a charity which has a duty to be publicly accountable - will be rather different from that which affects a private individual.

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