New Delhi: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has decided to step up its support to authorities and the common people in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, with direction to its units across the country to form local-level plans and distribute food packets, masks and soaps to the marginalised.
According to senior RSS functionaries, around 70,000 daily shakhas (basic unit) of the organisation and over three dozen of its affiliates have been asked to prioritise the fight the virus.
The focus is on ensuring that the social order doesn’t get disturbed as there is increasing pressure on marginalised sections of the society with complete lockdown in several states.
Meanwhile, representatives of at least three RSS-backed organisations — Rashtriya Sewa Bharati, Arogya Bharati and National Medicos Organisation (NMO) — met Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan last week and discussed ways to support the Narendra Modi government’s efforts to check the coronavirus outbreak.
One of the key decisions taken at the meeting, which focused on utilising the RSS and its affiliates’ network, was to launch a mass awareness and vigilance campaign to check the spread of the virus.
The RSS is the ideological parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
‘Prevent the onslaught’
Speaking to ThePrint, the NMO’s national treasurer and Delhi chapter president Akshay Dhariwal said, “We have asked more than 5,000 doctors who are members of our organisation to spread information to prevent the onslaught of coronavirus. They would be contacting especially the old age people on the phone regularly checking about their health so that no case goes undetected.”
Dhariwal said that the NMO has “started telling the older people who are more vulnerable to the effect of coronavirus that they should be checking their blood pressure and diabetes regularly at their homes” and let the organization know “if there is any discrepancy”.
A senior functionary of Rashtriya Sewa Bharati from the RSS’ Rajasthan unit said, “In Anoopgarh unit of Sewa Bharati, the self help group of women are making masks in large numbers on ‘No Profit, No Loss’ basis so that they can be distributed to the people.”
Sewa Bharati runs over one lakh welfare projects, largely for the marginalised sections of the society in urban slums.
A senior Sewa Bharati functionary said, “We have asked all our units to gear up to create awareness and wherever possible manufacture masks on ‘No profit-No Loss’ basis to be provided to the local population.”
A Delhi unit official of the organisation said, “Fighting coronavirus is our top priority and currently we have asked all our workers to focus on creating awareness, making affordable masks available wherever they are required. In Delhi, we have presence in more than 300 slums.
“Our volunteers are helping people around there by distributing food packets, masks and soaps. While doing this we are ensuring that there is no crowding,” added the Delhi functionary.
Meanwhile, Arogya Bharati, a voluntary service focused on “Indian values” and “medicine”, has begun distributing certain homeopathic medicines, which are purportedly effective in boosting the immune system, among the vulnerable sections.
“We are also creating awareness about this by asking people to take these preventive homeopathic medicines while emphasising the importance of personal hygiene and social distancing,” said an Aroygya Bharti functionary.
According to the RSS functionaries, the organisation’s top brass is closely monitoring the pandemic situation and making efforts at war footing to deal with the deadly outbreak.
“It is an extraordinary situation and the RSS had realised its seriousness as it cancelled the three-day meet (15-17 March) of its highest decision-making body Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) at the last minute. More than 1,400 delegates of the ABPS were asked to go back to their areas… and RSS’ units (were asked) to join hands with the local administration and authorities to fight against coronavirus,” said an RSS functionary who didn’t wish to be named.
“Whenever there has been a natural calamity or a disaster, the RSS’ volunteers have always been on the forefront to help society deal with it. We are carrying forward this tradition though this time it appears to be the biggest-ever challenge we have faced as a society,” he added.
The writer is CEO of Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra, an RSS affiliate, and author of two books on the RSS.