How RSS has embraced modernity and evolved

By Anindya Banerjee

New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) RSS -- The name evokes different sentiments among different people. Depending upon who you speak to, some will describe them as ‘nationalist, some as ‘torch bearers of Hinduism, while few may brand it as ‘communal.

To many, RSS may seem to be an ageing organization. But it has embraced modernity of late and how. Apart from its change of stance on Article 377 and inviting former Pranab Mukherjee to deliver a lecture at its Nagpur headquarters, there are daily changes made as well to keep the saffron flag aflutter.

Though Mukherjee reminded that the ‘soul of India is pluralism' during the event last year, he praised its founder Dr Hegdewar by calling him ‘a great son of mother India'. It was one event that changed perception of RSS and widened its acceptability.

With Noida, Gurgaon, Pune, Mumbai seeing a spurt of apartment living, the Sangh has created a new post of Apartment Pramukh who will go door to door. Even its building at Delhi's Jhandewala will eventually give way to a brand new high-rise out of which the RSS will operate.

Its popularity has seen a surge from 2014, after Modi government took to power with a landslide victory. In 2013, there used to be 3,000 requests per month to enroll in RSS through the official website of rss.org which has jumped to 12,000 per month as of today.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the RSS came to being on Vijay Dashami at Nagpur with a handful of people by Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar on the first floor of a humble house in 1925.

Why was it formed in the first place? To ‘protect the hindu culture'. He had said, "The Hindu culture is the life-breath of Hindusthan. It is therefore clear that if Hindusthan is to be protected, we should first nourish the Hindu culture. If the Hindu culture perishes in Hindusthan itself, and if the Hindu society ceases to exist, it will hardly be appropriate to refer to the mere geographical entity that remains as Hindusthan."

He believed the fate of the India cannot be changed unless lakhs of young men dedicate their entire lifetime for that cause. "To mould the minds of our youth towards that end is the supreme aim of the Sangh", elaborated the RSS founder.

Decades later, after much change and through its many affiliates RSS seems to have worked with a single minded focus and discipline of an army.

On its goal, it says, "Expressed in the simplest terms, the ideal of the Sangh is to carry the nation to the pinnacle of glory, through organising the entire society and ensuring protection of Hindu Dharma".

And dharma is protected through the functioning of sakhas. Those unaware of what a sakha is, it's a congregation of likeminded people who have a shared value to keep dharma alive. A saffron flag flutters in the midst of an open playground. People of any age, any caste play indigenous games while skillfully wielding the "Danda".

RSS's Delhi unit head Rajeev Tuli in an interview told IANS, "Many years ago, Swami Vivekananda had said that for next few decades we should lock all our Gods and Goddesses in suitcase and pray to only one God that is Bharatmata. He envisioned a self sufficient, strong India that can itself be a deterrent for others. RSS shares his vision of that strong India." In fact, "Namaste Sada Vatsale Matrubhoome" is in alignment to the Sangh's allegiance to one's country.

Rebutting the criticism RSS has endured over the years, Tuli said: "Our identity is our work for people. Be it Kerala floods or flashfloods in Uttarakhand, RSS men reach out to help first. People know that and recognize that. Such mudslinging on a selfless organization like RSS only proved to be counter productive for them".

RSS ideologue and BJP Rajya Sabha member Rakesh Sinha says there's a lot of deliberate narrative being set against the RSS which are ‘intentional'. But, he says, people can see through it.

--IANS

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