The Organization of Universal Communal Harmony (TOUCH)

TOUCH is listed as another independent organization in the CAG. It was registered as an independent Tax-Exempt 501(c)(3) organization in Virginia; but, its tax-exempt status was revoked in May 2012.[1] Similarly, in its October 25, 2004 bulletin, the IRS also cited TOUCH for failing to maintain its status as a non-profit/charitable organization.[2] In fact, TOUCH hasn’t filed a Form 990 since 2005. Thus, TOUCH seems to be a questionable organization that has failed to impress the IRS about its non-profit status.

The information below sheds light on TOUCH’s linkages with other organizations/members of CAG.

According to an article on the website of the United Muslims of America, Kaleem Kawaja of the Association of Indian Muslims of America (AIM), (discussed in Chapter 6), was the Founder and President of TOUCH.[3] Kawaja is listed as one of the Past Presidents of TOUCH.[4] He is also one of the core members of the CAG.[5]

What’s more, TOUCH has no website, holds no significant independent events except for signing and organizing with fellow CAG and other Muslim organizations, and has no significant membership. A broad internet search, along with queries into IRS records, yields only the names of a few members/coordinators of TOUCH – Kaleem Kawaja, Sushila Gidwani-Buschi, Gajanan Deshmukh, D.G. Patel and Prithvi Ratra. Sushila Gidwani-Buschi is a feminist economist, who is a founding member and the former North American Regional Vice President for the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO).[6]

Gidwani-Buschi is active in the same causes as those that are dear to the CAG. Such individuals typically have a knack for demonizing and/or belittling Hinduism and its deities via selected episodes and instances from the entire gamut of Hindu philosophical, spiritual and historical writings. To them, these instances are the defining features of Hinduism and Indian philosophical thinking.

On December 16, 2005, Giwani-Buschi, in email exchanges between herself, Kaleem Kawaja and others on the India-Unity Yahoo! Group, declares that Lord Rama “…is not a god but a male chauvinist…”[7] In the same message, Ms. Gidwani-Buschi also misinterprets Lord Krishna’s teachings of Dharma and criticizes him for his “…promotion of war based on duty before family love and affection…”[8] However, her conclusions here are contradictory to an earlier part of her email where she admits that the “Mahabharata and Ramayana are Hindu epics which reflect the Indian societies and value structures of their time and portray whole gamut of human emotions and human viciousness.”[9] If the two epics are reflections of value structures of their time, why is Ms. Gidwani-Buschi insistent on re-interpreting/misinterpreting Lord Rama and Lord Krishna in the frame of current value structures or her myopic view of value structures? Furthermore, if these two Hindu epics portray a whole gamut of human emotions, why is she only focusing on those emotions that demonize Hinduism when interpreted selectively? Her view of Hinduism is disturbingly similar to that held by other members of CAG.

She then makes a startling and provocative conclusion about the massively popular 1980s television serials Ramayana and Mahabharata: “I strongly feel that nationally televised serials of Mahabharata and Ramayana have contributed a great deal to the creation of the current communal and religious disharmony on (sic) in India.”[10] Without an iota of proof, Gidwani-Buschi superimposes communal disharmony of the 1980s and early 1990s on to these critically acclaimed television serials!

In summary, TOUCH is a paper organization masquerading as a broad-based one. Besides its questionable IRS non-profit status, TOUCH is run by a handful of individuals; the organization does not have any website and has not conducted any major independent event of its own besides signing petitions within the CAG and other initiatives. In addition, some of the board members of TOUCH have clearly prejudiced and inaccurate views of India, Hinduism and Hindu deities.

 

[1] See the IRS information for TOUCH at http://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/revokeSearch.do?ein1=52-2090656&names=&city=&state=All…&zipCode=&country=US&exemptTypeCode=al&postDateFrom=&postDateTo=&dispatchMethod=searchRevocation&submitName=Search. Accessed January 24, 2014

[2] “Announcement 2004-85 Foundations Status of Certain Organizations”, October 25, 2004, Internal Revenue Bulletin: 2004-43, http://www.irs.gov/irb/2004-43_IRB/ar15.html.

[3] See a brief bio of Kaleem Kawaja at UMA’s website http://www.umanet.org/cms.cfm?fuseaction=articles.viewThisArticle&articleID=122&pageID=159. Accessed January 24, 2014

[4] See a copy of the 2005 IRS Form 990 at http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990pf_pdf_archive/522/522090656/522090656_200512_990PF.pdf. Accessed January 24, 2014

[5] Mr. Kawaja is listed as one of the main contacts in the following Press release from CAG dated November 28, 2008: http://www.coalitionagainstgenocide.org/press/cag.pr.28nov2008.pdf. Accessed January 24, 2014

[6] See GOPIO’s announcement titled “DR. SUSHILA GIDWANI-BUSCHI APPOINTED AS NORTH AMERICAN REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENT OF GOPIO”, at http://www.gopio.net/news_063004.htm. Accessed January 24, 2014

[7] See Topic # 7366, Message 1 by Ms. Gidwani on December 16, 2005 at http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/india-unity/conversations/topics/7366. Accessed January 24, 2014

[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid