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RSS roadmap before it turns 100: New debate on freedom struggle & radical Islam, expansion

RSS is will complete 100 years in 2025, and so, its second-highest decision-making body has taken some crucial decisions that will be part of the Sangh’s roadmap for the next couple of years.

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New Delhi: Massive organisational expansion, a review of the Indian Independence movement, and building a global narrative on threats posed by radical Islam, especially to Hindu minorities in the Indian subcontinent, are going to be the key elements of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) roadmap in the run-up to its centenary year. 

The RSS is all set to complete 100 years in 2025, and in view of that, its second-highest decision-making body — the Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal (ABKM) — recently deliberated upon various organisational aspects and took some crucial decisions that will be part of the Sangh’s roadmap for the next few years.

The meeting was organised at Dharwad in Karnataka from 28 to 30 October and was attended by around 350 top RSS functionaries.

Massive organisational expansion

It is clear that though the RSS has almost doubled its presence organisationally in the last decade or so, entering new geographical territories, the organisation isn’t satisfied with that. It still feels that it has a long way to go. 

The RSS currently holds daily shakhas in 5,683 of the 6,483 blocks in the country. In all, RSS shakhas are held at nearly 55,000 places — it includes daily shakhas at 34,000 places, weekly shakha at 12,780 places and monthly milans (meetings) at 7,900 places.

“The year 2025 is going to be the centenary year of the Sangh. Generally, we prepare a plan to expand the organisation every three years. From this point of view, it has been decided to take our work to mandal level. At present, out of 6,483 blocks in the country, there is Sangh work in 5,683 blocks,” RSS sarkaryavah (general secretary) Dattatreya Hosabale said at a press conference after the ABKM meeting.

“There is work in 32,687 mandals. Out of 910 districts, Sangh has its work in 900 districts; 560 districts have five shakhas at district headquarters, 84 districts have shakhas in all mandals. We have thought that in the coming three years, Sangh work (the year 2024) should reach all the mandals.”

Another significant decision taken by the RSS is to engage more full-time workers. 

A full-time worker is known as pracharak in the organisation. He doesn’t stay with the family and devotes all his time to organisational work. 

The RSS plans to increase their number multifold by motivating cadres to give at least two years of their life as pracharaks. This is expected to give a major boost to the organisation. 

The last time the RSS had taken a similar initiative was in 1989, when it was celebrating the birth anniversary of its founder Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. 

Also read: Founding, first shakha meet, 3 bans: Key moments that define 96-year journey of RSS

Building new narratives on Independence movement

The RSS is going to focus primarily on two things when it comes to building narratives on the Independence movement. 

“The nation is celebrating Amrit Mahostav, the 75th year of Bharat’s independence. On this occasion, the swayamsevaks of the Sangh in collaboration with various organisations and society and also independently will organise events to celebrate and bring forth the unknown freedom fighters like Rani Abbakka, Velu Nachiyar, Rani Gaidinliu before society,” Hosabale said. Thus, many new national icons would come up in the next couple of years.  

The second aspect that the RSS would work on is to establish that India’s independence movement was something more than mere opposition to colonial rule.

This would be a straight challenge to both the subaltern as well as many of the so-called mainstream schools of history, which have ignored this aspect and looked at India’s freedom movement from a western historiography’s perspective.

According to RSS, the independence movement of India was the quest for selfhood and it was deeply imbibed in India’s rich cultural and civilisational heritage at whose core is ‘Sanatan Dharma’ or ‘Hinduness’. 

“India’s freedom movement has been unique in the world, having lasted for a long time. The unity of the country was manifested in the movement. This movement was not only against the British, but was a movement for India’s selfhood. That is why the Swadeshi movement got attached with the freedom movement along with swa-bhasha(language of the self), swa-sanskriti (culture of the self) etc,” said Hosabale, elaborating on the RSS’ viewpoint as discussed in the ABKM.

“Many personalities, including Swami Vivekananda, worked for awakening the soul of India. So, on the occasion of 75 years of independence celebrations, the present generation should take a pledge to work and make India excellent in every field in the world.” 

Radical Islam and Hindu minorities

The ABKM also took up a strong stand on the plight of Hindus in Bangladesh. In an unusually strong-worded resolution passed by the ABKM, it termed the violence against Hindus in Bangladesh as a genocide.

According to RSS  sah sarkaryavah (joint general secretary) Arun Kumar, “The attack on Hindu society in Bangladesh is not a sudden event. An attempt has been made to create communal frenzy on the basis of fake news and it was a planned attempt to eradicate the Hindu society.”

The resolution expressed grief over the violent attacks on Hindus and strongly condemned the continuing brutal violence on the Hindu minorities there and the conspiracy of “jihadi organisations for the widespread Islamization of Bangladesh”.

“The ABKM decries the deafening silence of so-called human rights watchdogs and UN-affiliated bodies and calls upon the international community to come forward in condemning the violence and raise their voice for the safety and security of the Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist and other minorities,” the resolution reads.

“It also cautions that the rise of radical Islamist forces whether in Bangladesh or in any other part of the world will be a grave threat to democracy and human rights of the peoples of peace-loving nations of the world.”

Arun Kumar said: “At the time of Partition, the population of Hindus in East Bengal was about 28 per cent; it has now come down to about 8 per cent. A large number of Hindus had to migrate to India since the Partition period, especially during the 1971 war, due to atrocities by radical Islamist groups such as the Jamaat-e-Islami (Bangladesh).” 

The RSS also urged the government, in its resolution, “to use all available diplomatic channels to communicate the concerns of the global Hindu community and organisations to the Bangladesh government over the attacks and human rights violation in Bangladesh to ensure security of Hindus and Buddhist there”.

(The writer is a research director at RSS-linked think-tank Vichar Vinimay Kendra. Views expressed are personal)

Also read: Jana Sangh was formed on this day 70 yrs ago. How its ideology is reflected in today’s BJP


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