New Delhi: With the border stand-off between India and China being monitored closely by many quarters, both at the domestic and the international levels, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) continues to favour a firm and strong China policy, which it has been consistently pursuing since the 1950s.
However now, along with the strategic bit, the economic component has also been added to the policy — to make it more effective as several organisations inspired by the RSS are focusing on boycotting Chinese goods.
Recently, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the RSS-backed Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and several other organisations launched a ‘swadeshi’ movement that found an echo in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India).
The SJM campaign favours the use of Indian products replacing the foreign ones, wherever possible. This campaign is going to hit the Chinese companies hard, which have a major stake in Indian markets cutting across sectors. A month-long movement is currently being run (since the beginning of June) across the country by the SJM and several other organisations inspired by the RSS for ‘self-reliant’ India that is resulting in the boycott of Chinese goods.
‘Expansionism a key characteristic of Communism’
The RSS has consistently taken the stand that India should be wary of China and has urged successive governments not to let their guards down when it comes to the Asian giant. It also holds the Congress government led by Jawaharlal Nehru responsible for the 1962 war debacle with China.
An RSS resolution passed in 2012 stated: “It is universally acknowledged that the debacle of 1962 was essentially the making of the political and diplomatic leadership of our country. Warnings by several eminent people, including Sardar Patel (Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel) and Sri Guruji (the second RSS Sarsanghchalak M.S. Golwalkar) were unheeded to by the then leadership, which went about with its romantic worldview, totally ignoring the ground situation. China had annexed Tibet first and then launched aggression on our territory.”
The RSS, in fact, has been quite vocal about China since the 1950s and had always favoured a strong ‘China Policy’ to check the country’s expansionist tendencies.
Addressing a public rally at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on 23 December 1962, the Golwalkar had said, “One of the key reasons for China’s expansionist policies lies in the fact that it is ruled by a communist regime and ‘expansionism is a key characteristic of communism’.”
Interestingly, despite being critical of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s China Policy, he urged all the political parties to keep their differences aside and support the Nehru government in the war effort against China.
“We must remove all…. political differences right now and remember only one thing that we are fighting a war against an enemy and we should stand as one nation.”
On 5 November 1962, amid the war with China, Guruji issued a statement in Nagpur that proves to be even more relevant today. He cautioned the Nehru government that China would try to use Nepal against India so, “we must establish very close and cordial relationships with Nepal… if we don’t succeed in this, our difficulties are going to increase”.
RSS body’s 2012 resolution on China
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the 1962 war between India and China, the RSS had passed a resolution in 2012 in Chennai. The resolution was passed during a meeting of Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal (AKBM), one of the highest bodies for policy formulation and decision making in the RSS.
The resolution laid bare the RSS’ perspective on China policy. Expressing deep concern about China, the resolution emphasised the urgent “need for a Comprehensive National Security Policy vis-a-vis China”.
The resolution said: “China has strategically built and upgraded its border infrastructure along Bharat-Tibet border that includes a network of air bases, missile launching pads, cantonments and other physical infrastructure. The ABKM calls upon our government that in view of the enhanced threats from the aggressive manoeuvres of China along the border, Bharat also should invest adequately in border management and security preparedness.
“Modern wars are not necessarily fought only on the borders. We need to develop comprehensive military technological superiority keeping in view the rapid strides China has made in this field,” it added.
Much before the challenges, which we are witnessing today from China, the resolution stated: “The deep penetration of China in vital sectors like energy, information and communication technology, industry and commerce in Bharat, and its designs to divert our river waters are a serious cause of concern.
“The ABKM underscores the threat from China in the field of cyber technology and communications. China has invested heavily in developing strong cyber warfare capability using which it can cripple the technological capabilities of even the advanced countries like the US. Those countries are also concerned about this threat from China and are taking countermeasures. While our advances in hi-tech areas are noteworthy, the ABKM urges the government should give necessary importance to augmenting our cyber-security capability also,” it added.
Explaining further the RSS’ stand on India’s China policy, the resolution said, “Bharat has always strived to maintain good relations with various countries. About two decades ago, we exhorted a new ‘Look East Policy’ thereby trying to establish closer relations with countries to our East and South-East.”
“We have all along been the champions of peace in the world. In order for us to achieve these lofty ideals, the ABKM urges the government that it should learn lessons from the 1962 experience and give highest priority to developing a comprehensive national security policy vis-a-vis China.”
(All quotes of M.S. Golwalkar used in the article have been taken from the book, Sri Guruji Samagra, Volume 10.)
The writer is CEO of Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra, an RSS affiliate, and author of two books on the RSS.