Swadeshi Jagran Manch, the 'anti-crony capitalist' body of RSS
By Anindya Banerjee
New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) The BJP has traditionally been a party that doesnt look down upon capitalism. When Narendra Modi, who is heading the BJP-led government at the centre now, was Gujarat Chief Minister, one of the differentiators he created was ease of doing business. So much so when the Tatas had to leave West Bengal due to protests at Singur, the first option they could think of was Modis Gujarat. Vibrant Gujarat, started by Modi, has come to be known as the biggest business conclave in the subcontinent. Yet, this RSS bodys position is what they call 'non participatory captitalism' and borderline socialist.
The logo of this RSS affiliate is of an undivided India with a conch shell. Undivided India is an overarching theme of Bharatmata, a motif RSS holds dear. According to the organization, the idea of the organization is to promote everything Indian which stems from Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi's ideal during British colonialism.
Founded in November 22, 1991 at Nagpur, the birthplace of RSS, the newly-formed organization had one goal: to protest "economic imperialism". And for that, they chose to protest economic policies of the central government.
Interestingly, the organization came to shape when India was witnessing economic liberalism. With the markets opening up, tight control of the state was gone. And it couldn't have been a more ripe time for Swadeshi Jagran Manch to come into being.
But change of government didn't dictate their policy change. If they protested Foreign Direct Investment in Retail during UPA regime, they continued doing so even during BJP-led NDA. That tug of war continues to date.
"We want to safeguard interests of Indian consumers and retailers. Walmart has been a test case for us. We are not against any entity. But we think it should be inclusive and participatory. Whenever a small businessman or a start-up or a medium-scale industry is threatened by a monopoly, we don't hesitate to protest against any government. When it comes to keeping our Swadeshi movement alive, we will fight", said Ashwini Mahajan, the man who is the face of the organization right now.
Stiff opposition to Chinese goods flooding the market has also been top of its priority. Though blocking some country from selling goes against the very ethos on which open economy is based on, but very recently Mahajan took to Twitter to sound alarm bells that Walmart is one of the biggest sellers of Chinese goods. "This company is doing no good anywhere. It's the biggest seller of Chinese items, causing havoc for small traders and is the worst employer in the world", he said. Some of its activists took to streets in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer this Tuesday to burn down materials that are made in China.
The organization has stated position on various issues ranging from environment, employments to education. But with the agricultural crisis hovering over the last few years, SJM has focused more on Agriculture and its opposition to GM Crop.
This year on January 20, during their national convention at Madurai passed a resolution expressed concern over the plight to agriculture and the financial condition of farmers. This July, this RSS body accused the Agriculture Ministry of misleading the Parliament over a reply on usage of herbicide Glyphosate.
It's no secret that RSS is the ideological mentor of both the ruling BJP and left leaning SJM. Both the BJP and RSS share beliefs when it comes to nationalism, Kashmir and AFSPA - to name a few. But when it comes to issues like food security, FDI, labour law reform etc, the two RSS inspired body mostly stand face to face.
So much so that last year, SJM had written to the Prime Minister urging for a "course correction" in the Union government's think-tank NITI Aayog, after a member of the body termed the MSPs (Minimum Support Price) given to farmers inflationary.
"We are not anti capitalist. We are against the western concept of capitalism that promotes survival of the fittest. We believe in Sarve Bhabantu Sukhinah. As long as farmer's interest or small retailer's interest will be compromised, we will fight the government," said Mahajan.