Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (R S S)

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The R S S decided to change its dress from knickers to trousers, also khaki, with effect from October 2016
Graphic: The Times of India

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

Contents

Communalism and the R S S

NIA judge: R S S tag is not communal/2018

Srinath Vudali, April 22, 2018: The Times of India


Hours before he made his sensational decision to resign after acquitting five accused in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case, special court judge K Ravinder Reddy dismissed contentions made by National Investigation Agency, especially evidence put forth before him by CBI, which had earlier investigated the case, as “untrustworthy”. Ravinder Reddy, the IV additional metropolitan sessions judgecum-special judge for NIA cases, observed “any person associated with R S S is not communal and not anti-social”.

The judge, while discussing the NIA charge, questioned whether the prosecution proved beyond doubt that Devender Gupta was communal for just being a pracharak of R S S? ``The R S S is not proscribed organisation. If any person works in it, it does not give any scope that he is a communal,’’ the judge said in his 140-page judgement.


NIA judge states R S S tag is not communal

Hours before he made his dramatic decision to resign after acquitting five accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case, special court judge K Ravinder Reddy dismissed contentions made by National Investigation Agency (NIA), particularly evidence by Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) as “untrustworthy”. CBI was probing the case before handing it over to NIA. Ravinder Reddy, the fourth additional metropolitan sessions judge & special judge for NIA cases, observed “anybody associated with R S S doesn’t make him communal or anti-social”.

The judge, while discussing the NIA charge, questioned whether the prosecution proved beyond doubt Devender Gupta was communal for just being a R S S pracharak? “R S S is not proscribed organisation. If any person works for it, it does not give any scope for him to communal and anti-social,” the judge wrote in the 140-page judgment.

In the order, Ravinder Reddy reduced the Mecca Majid blast case to 18 points and discussed each point at length. As far as the conversation between Aseemanand, Maqbool Bin Ali and Shaik Abdul Kaleem at the Chanchalguda Jail, which was the basis of Aseemanand’s statement before a judge in Delhi, the special judge called the “extra judicial confession is false”.

“This court holds the testimony given by Maqbool as untrustworthy and false. Kaleem was also interrogated by CBI officer Raja Balaji in Mecca Masjid blast case in the first round of investigation. And, he was also subjected to narco-anlaysis test... Kaleem is under police surveillance and he obliged to turn witness. At the same time, no documentary evidence is there on record to show that Kaleem was in Chanchalguda jail when Aseemanand was languishing in the same prison. Therefore, this court holds evidence as false,” the order stated.

On the deposition by Aseemanand before a judge in Delhi on December 18, 2010 and later retracting the statement, Judge Ravinder Reddy said, “Confession by Aseemanand in Delhi is hit by Section 26 of Indian Evidence Act. This court holds the confession statement of Aseemanand was not voluntary, which was recorded during the course of police custody.’’ “The statement has also been retracted by Aseemanand four months later. Facts and circumstances of the authority relied on by NIA, wherein the officer who recorded the confessional statement of the accused has assured that he will not hand him over to police and he will be sent back to jail. But the fact and circumstances of the case show that the Delhi judge handed over Aseemanand to CBI officer Raja Balaji. It is admitted fact that Aseemanad was in the police custody on December 18, 2010.”

“The prosecution also failed to prove that accused Lokesh Sharma was the one who purchased the two Nokia 6030 mobile handsets in 2007,” he said in the verdict.

History

Relations with Congress

Akhilesh Singh, ‘Nehru invited R-S-S to ’63 R-Day parade, Indira attended 1977 event’, May 30, 2018: The Times of India


Seeking to counter questions over former President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to its Nagpur headquarters, R-S-S recalled PM Jawahar Lal Nehru’s invitation to over 3,000 Sangh volunteers to take part in the Republic Day parade in 1963.

“Nehru was impressed with the services of Sangh volunteers at the borders during war with China in 1962. He invited Sangh volunteers to the 1963 Republic Day parade to imbibe the spirit of nationalism,” said Ratan Sharda, author and member of R-S-S’ national media team.

He said several NGOs and other organisations had been invited but most of them did not turn up as they were unhappy with Nehru over the China war debacle. “However, R-S-S took part in the event at a short notice of barely two weeks,” Sharda added.

Criticising those attacking former President Pranab Mukherjee for accepting the Sangh’s invitation to visit its headquarters, Sharda said even former PM Indira Gandhi had unveiled Vivekanand Rock Memorial in 1977 on the invitation of senior R-S-S functionary Eknath Ranade, the architect of the memorial.

Mukherjee will be the chief guest at the valedictory function of the third-year training programme of new R-S-S workers at Sangh headquarters on June 7 and also address the volunteers.

The visit has left a section of Congress perplexed as party chief Rahul Gandhi has been highly critical of the Sangh and its functionaries. Apart from his own association, Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee is a Congress MP and his daughter Sharmistha, a functionary.

R-S-S said Mukherjee is not the first leader to visit its headquarters as several, including Mahatma Gandhi, had participated in the organisation’s events in the past.

Sangh mouthpiece “Organiser”, in its latest edition, said, “Eminent personalities like Sarvodaya leader Prabhakar Rao, Lokmanya Jayaprakash Narayan, Justice KT Thomas and noted scientists like G Madhavan Nair, K Radhakrishnan and K Kasturirangan have attended Sangh programmes.”

Welcoming Mukherjee’s visit, ICCR chairman and senior BJP leader Vinay Sahasrabudhe said this will encourage the trend of shedding prejudices about R-S-S. “It’s a welcome thing that Pranabda is visiting R-S-S HQ and addressing Sangh delegates. It shows his open mindedness and democratic spirit,” he added.

Ideology

As enunciated at the 2018 Outreach

What does Mohan Bhagwat mean when he says Hindutva ‘includes’ Muslims, September 21, 2018: The Times of India

The R S S ideology, as enunciated at the 2018 Outreach
From: September 21, 2018: The Times of India


R S S chief Mohan Bhagwat’s lecture series in Delhi, a three-day outreach initiative, was intended to restate, and in many ways clarify, the saffron outfit’s vision for India. It wouldn't have been so unusual had it not made headlines for things contrary to what the R S S is seen to be about.

Here are his selected sound bytes from the conclave...


NO HINDUTVA WITHOUT MUSLIMS:

Perception: R S S wants a Hindu Rashtra in which there is no place for Muslims

Bhagwat said: "Hindu Rashtra doesn’t mean there’s no place for Muslims. The day it is said so, it won’t be Hindutva any more. Hindutva talks about Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam"


NOT FOR MUKT, BUT YUKT:

Perception: R S S is anti-Congress, which in turn is one of its biggest critics

Bhagwat said: " Hum log toh sarvlok-yukt Bharat waale log hain, mukt waale nahin hain (We are for all inclusive Bharat, we aren’t about ‘mukt’) ... Under Congress, a big movement started in the country. There were many great personalities who sacrificed their lives and who still inspire us... (Congress) made a big contribution"


NAGPUR DOESN’T RUN GOVERNMENT:

Perception: Modi government is controlled from Nagpur

Bhagwat said: “Often people speculate that a call from Nagpur (R S S headquarters) must be behind a particular decision (of the government). That is baseless. All those working (in the government) are seniors and they are far more experienced in politics than us”.

“They (BJP) neither depend on our advice, nor do we give any. If they need any suggestion... and if we have something to offer, then we give it.”


NOT ALL OF GOLWALKAR’S THOUGHT ETERNALLY VALID:

Perception: R S S endorses former head Guru MS Golwalkar's speeches against Muslims

Bhagwat said: “‘Bunch of Thoughts’ (by MS Golwalkar, second R S S sarsanghchalak) is a collection of speeches made in a particular context and cannot be eternally valid. Sangh is not dogmatic. Times change and, accordingly, our thoughts transform. Dr Hedgewar said we are free to adapt to times as they change.”


RESPECT THE CONSTITUTION:

Perception: R S S ridicules the word 'secularism' in the Constitution

Bhagwat said: “Constitution is the consensus of all Indians and it is the duty of all to follow it... what I have said is in accordance with the Constitution. Sangh works after accepting the primacy of the Constitution and we respect it fully”

Basically... This marks the beginning of a new discourse, says an R S S-aligned academic. Opposition parties say, what the R S S chief said was only a reiteration of its earlier stand. Some say R S S is working in tandem with BJP — the speeches are an attempted image makeover ahead of the Lok Sabha elections that are months away, especially given Bhagwat's comments on issues like reservation, vigilantism, Ayodhya temple etc.

Revising portions of Golwalkar’s thoughts

Akhilesh Singh, R S S has discarded chunks of Golwalkar’s thoughts: Bhagwat, September 20, 2018: The Times of India


R S S chief Mohan Bhagwat on Wednesday said that the saffron fountain-head has discarded chunks of “Bunch of Thoughts” — a compilation of speeches of its former head Guru M S Golwalkar — which was for long the lodestar for the organisation.

“Bunch of Thoughts jo paristithi vash boli gai, woh shashwat nahi rahti... Sangh band sangathan nahi hai, samay badalta hai, hamari soch badalti hai, badalne ki permission Dr Hedgewar se milti hai (Bunch of Thoughts is a collection of speeches made in a particular context and cannot be eternally valid. Sangh is not dogmatic. Times change and accordingly, our thoughts transform. Dr Hedgewar, R S S founder, said we were free to adapt to times as they change),” said Bhagwat.

He was replying to a question about the conflict between his statement that R S S doesn’t see Muslims as “unwanted” and Golwalkar’s views in “Bunch of Thoughts”, categorising the community along with Christians and Communists as “internal enemies”.

Bhagwat said the Sangh acknowledges as valid only those parts of “Bunch of Thoughts” which remain relevant to the current circumstances and have been put together in an in-house publication, “Guruji: Vision and Mission”.

Bhagwat has spelt out new direction for R S S to follow

Bhagwat’s statement on Golwarkar marks a big public shift in R S S’ stand. Though the Sangh would privately emphasise that “Bunch of Thoughts” was a compilation of speeches made by Golwalkar at different points in time and that the one about “internal enemies” was made in the immediate aftermath of Partition when a communist insurgency raged in Andhra Pradesh, they fought shy, given the continuing reverence for “Guruji”, of repudiating it. “This marks the beginning of a new discourse,” R S S-aligned academic Rakesh Sinha told TOI.

“Bhagwat ji has spelt out the new direction for the organisation to follow,” added Sinha, who was recently nominated to Rajya Sabha. In his concluding remarks at the three-day outreach, “Future of India: R S S perspective”, the R S S chief called upon all communities to come close to the Sangh to understand its working. “You need not believe all that I have said during the last three days but I believe firmly that once you understand the Sangh, you will want to be part of it.”

“We support reservation as the Constitution provides for it. Reservation should stay till those communities which get the benefits of reservation themselves decide they no longer need it. Reservation is meant to correct the inequalities that crept into our society over the last few centuries. It will take time to correct the situation and we must patiently wait for the right time-Reservation is not the problem, it is the politics of reservation that creates problems,” Bhagwat said answering questions on caste-based reservations.

Growth and expansion

2010-15: 61% growth, Kerala leads list

The Times of India, Aug 16 2015

Anahita Mukherji

Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh is on a roll: No. of shakhas up 61% in 5 yrs

Kerala, which was never had a BJP govt, leads list

A bunch of lively schoolboys form a circle around an authoritative 12year-old in khaki shorts and a superman T-shirt at a Navi Mumbai maidan on a weekday night. At first glance, they look merely like children at play . But as the boy leading the group conducts a series of activities, from games and exercises to prayers and a session of marching involving bringing one's right hand to one's chest, it gradually becomes evident that this is an Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh shakha in progress -one of 51,335 shakhas held daily across the country this year.

Shakhas are the smallest units of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh.

While the organization is called `extremist' by its critics, its admirers respond to the taunt by calling it `Hindu nationalist'. But even its detractors agree that the RASHTRIYA SWAYAMSEWAK SANGH organizational network is virtually unparalleled.

While there is no formal membership, an analysis of data on the number of shakhas conducted each year over the last five years shows a 29% increase in daily shakhas, 61% increase in weekly shakhas and 40% growth in monthly shakhas across India from 2010-11 to 2014-15.

The trend is similar in cities like Mumbai, which have seen a 34% increase in the number of daily shakhas.Weekly shakhas have grown by over 70%. The largest increase in shakhas across India over the last five years took place between 2013-14 and 2014-15. Kerala has over 4,500 shakhas -the highest in India -despite never having a BJP government. It's tempting to attribute the nationwide in crease in the number of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh shakhas over the past two years to a change in the Central government. BJP is part of the 38 ideological affiliates of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh that form the Sangh Parivar.

However, Pramod Bapat, media coordinator of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh Konkan division, insists Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh growth has nothing to do with a BJP government at the Centre, adding that the organization has flourished under Congress governments for decades.He gives Kerala's example to drive home his point. Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh is also strong in West Bengal, another state where BJP's presence is marginal.

A law graduate whom TOI met at a shakha conducted under a flyover says he joined Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh a few months ago via their website because he supported their views on Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code, and not because of the BJP government. In recent years, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh shakha strength has in creased as timings are adjusted to suit various age groups -students, working professionals and retired people. As part of its outreach, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh befriends heads of various communities (for instance, the head of a blacksmith community in an area) and involves them in various social activities, gradually making inroads into the organization.

While senior Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh member Narayan Samant, jailed during the Emergency , says the organization may have grown organically in the past, he believes it will grow a lot more in every sphere of life over the next four years as the government of the day belongs to the same ideology .“We are not against any community . We were not born out of an opposition to anybody. We only want Hindus to unite. If we become strong, opposition to us will reduce. When Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh was formed, Hindus stood divided. Now you will see much greater unity amongst Hindus,“ says Samant.

2015: 35% jump in Bihar membership

The Times of India, Oct 10 2015

35% jump in Bihar Rashtriya Swayamsewak SaNGH membership

The Bihar polls seem to have given a boost to interest in the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh in the state with a sharp increase of 35% in online applications during July-September, helping sustain interest in the Sangh that saw an estimated 6 lakh persons below the age of 40 join in the 2014 election year.

The Sangh's recruitment has been steadily increasing, with around 5 lakh signing up in 2013, sources said arguing that elections are not necessarily the sole factor for increased interest in the saffron organisation that attracted an average 5,300 online applications monthly in the JanuaryJune period this year. In Bihar, the average on line requests were around 280 amonth in the first six months of 2014, but rose to 353, 423 and 727 in the July-September period. In the same interregnum, the national average rose to 6,083, 6,555 and 8,808 per month respectively . The online applications are a small fraction of the number of persons joining the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh as most do so by simply walking to the nearest shakha.

Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh prachar pramukh (head of publicity) Manmohan Vaidya said “The Sangh's appeal among younger persons reflects a growing urge among youth to connect with India's cultural identity and take pride in it. It also shows a desire to serve society.“ Pointing to the online applications from Bihar and an increased presence in shakhas there, Vaidya said “The youth seem to be increasingly fed up with the communal politics of the so-called secular leaders.“

The average per month requests has risen from 1,000 in 2012, 2,500 in 2013 to a high of 7,000 in 2014, when the elec tion and the Modi campaign generated considerable interest in the BJP and the Sangh.

If the numbers of those who join shakhas is taken into account, the Sangh seems to be on a strong footing. Going by the number of new entrants who express a desire to train for Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh work, some 80,000 volunteers in the 13-40 age group participated in training camps in 2013 and the number went up to 1,15,000 in 2014.

Sangh leaders estimate that about one in six new recruits opt for the more rigorous “prathamik shiksha varga“ or seven day camps, pointing to around 6 lakh new entrants to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh in 2014 and about 5 lakh in 2013.

2015: Hindu SwayamsevakSangh (HSS) spreads to 39 nations

S S-shakha-spreads-wings-to-39-nations-21122015001072 The Times of India Dec 21 2015

Anahita Mukherji

Mumbai

Growing up on the outskirts of Pune, Girish Bagmar came from a family of Congress supporters. Now based in Boston, Bagmar sends both his sons to shakhas run by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the overseas wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Many of his Indian friends in the US work for HSS and offered to take his children to the shakha. “I've never attended HSS shakhas. I send my children there so they can socialise with other children and learn about Indian culture,“ says Bagmar. The US is one of 39 countries where HSS runs shakhas, says Ramesh Subramaniam, Mumbai coordinator of R S S's overseas work,who also heads Sewa, a platform for overseas Indians to fund R S S service projects. Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the over seas wing of says Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, works closely with other Hindu cultural organisations abroad including the Chinmaya and Ramakrishna missions, says Ramesh Subramaniam, Mumbai coordinator of R S S's overseas work.

“We don't call it Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh overseas. It's not on Indian soil so we can't use the word `Rashtriya'. We call it Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh as it unites Hindus worldwide,“ says Subramaniam, adding that R S S's overseas wing is bigger than its affiliate, Vishwa Hindu Parishad. R S S is the ideological parent of nearly 40 official affiliates including VHP and BJP.

The 39 countries where shakhas are held include five in the Middle East where outdoor shakhas are not permitted and are replaced by gath erings at people's homes.Finland has only an e-shakha where activities are conducted via video-camera over the internet for people from over 20 countries living in areas where HSS units are absent. “The diaspora's longing for a connection with `Indian culture', `history' and `traditions' in a context in which they are a minority that is not represented in the mainstream, provides a ready social basis for the R S S,“ says Subir Sinha, academician at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

“While Nepal has the large st number of shakhas outside India, US comes second with 146. We are present in every state of the US. We have shakhas in cities like New York, Washington DC, Seattle and Miami,“ says Satish Modh, who has been associated with R S S work abroad for over 25 years. While shakhas in India take place in open maidans, in the US, most shakhas are held in university campuses on hired parking lots, says Modh.

Most overseas shakhas are held once a week. In London, they are held twice a week. The UK has 84 shakhas. “The sangh parivar got a boost in the UK under Blairite `multiculturalism' in which culture was identified with religion and religion with its most hardcore version,“ says Sinha.

The first overseas shakha is believed to have been on a ship. “In 1946, two swayamsevaks, Manekbhai Rugani and Jagdish Chandra Sharda were travelling from Mumbai to Mombasa (Kenya). Neither knew each other. One saw the other performing the right hand `namaskar' and figured he too was from R S S. They held the first shakha together on the ship. The first shakha on foreign soil was in Mombasa,“ says Ramesh Mehta, a senior R S S member whose home in suburban Mumbai has played host to overseas sangh leaders for 30 years. R S S's Kenya wing, earlier called Bharat Swayamsevak Sangh, spread its ideology to neighbouring Tanzania and Uga nda, and later to parts of South Africa and Mauritius.R S S sent Mehta to Zimbabwe and Kenya to set up shakhas. “Many swayamsevaks in African countries had the option of moving to the UK once those countries gained independence. Haribhai Shah, a swayamsevak who moved from Mombasa to Birmingham, began UK's first shakha,“ says Mehta. The sangh celebrates 50 years in UK next year.

2017-18: 250 shakhas added in Bengal

Rohit Khanna, March 26, 2018: The Times of India


The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (R-S-S) has added more than 250 shakhas across Bengal in the last one year, and it plans to go beyond block levels to ‘reach out’ to people at ‘mandal’ or gram panchayat level.

A senior Sangh functionary explained that the rising number was a result of ‘the increased response from socially and economically backward areas’ of Bengal, which prompted the organisation to ‘spread its network’.

After gaining considerable traction in Hooghly district and Durgapur, the number of shakhas have grown from around 1,100 in 2016 to more than 1,350 in 2017. “Growth is being witnessed in areas where people lack basic facilities like education and health. We are getting response from the people. Based on the response, we are spreading into areas where people have expressed their willingness for seva,” the Sangh functionary said.

He added that localised development models had helped the organisation grow by more than 20 per cent in Bengal in the last one year.

At present, R-S-S operates through 910 shakhas in 650 places in south Bengal and 452 shakhas in 373 places in north Bengal.

The number of weekly activities or milans stands at 1,092 and there are 226 mandali (monthly congregation) across the state.

Leadership

Hosabale may replace Joshi as No.2 in R-S-S

Ramu Bhagwat, March 2, 2018: The Times of India


The highest collective decision making body of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (R-S=S) — Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) — is meeting in the city on March 9-11. There are indications that the current R-S-S Sarkaryavah Bhaiyyaji Joshi will step down and Dattatreya Hosabale will be elected in his place.

It is the ABPS which gives a sort of democratic colour to the otherwise non-transparent and closed nature of the R-S-S. Around 1,500 representatives of various constituents of Sangh Parivar get together for ABPS annually at different venues in the country. But once in three years, ABPS meets in Nagpur — R-S-S headquarters. What makes the Nagpur ABPS crucial is that election for the post of Sarkaravah takes place during the meet.

While Sarshanghachalak is the top post of the R-S-S, its incumbent is seen in the role of a philosopher and guide leading the world’s largest organization wedded to the cause of protecting Hindutva. It is the No.2 or Sarkaryavah who looks after the day-to-day activities and is practically the executive head.

Bhaiyyaji Joshi has been in the post for last nine years. Before that he spent years in Sewa Bharti that does disaster management and providing relief during calamities. He was also the all-India Sewa Pramukh. The current R-S-S chief Mohan Bhagwat also worked as Sarkaryavah for nine years before he was promoted to the post by K S Sudarshan, the outgoing chief, in 2009. Bhagwat-Joshi are credited with gearing up the organization in 2014 for giving a big push that enabled the BJP to come to power at the Centre and form the party’s first majority government with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister.

In 2015, ABPS at Nagpur, Hosabale’s name had cropped for the general secretary post. But for some reasons it was dropped and Joshi was given third term. Now in early 70s, Joshi’s is grappling with some health problems and wants to step down. Unlike Joshi who worked all along with the R-S-S and graduated from the Shakha level, Hosabale, who has come through the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

Known as politically more pragmatic, there are some in the R-S-S who feel that he is closer to the Modi-Shah duo who rule the country and hence his appointment to the No.2 position would mean further politicization of the R-S-S. But there are others who feel that Hosabale in his 60s, would be the dynamic force and help attracting the youth support. So he could be chosen over the two sarkayavahs — Dr Krishna Gopala and V Bhagaiah, older than him.

A new Sarkaryavah just with general elections a year ahead makes the change more significant as it would re-define the Sangh’s role. Also the R-S-S would under the new general secretary would be in 2025 organizing the centenary of its inception.

…but Joshi re-elected gen secy for 4th term

Ramu Bhagwat, Bhaiyyaji Joshi re-elected R-S-S gen secy for 4th term, March 11, 2018: The Times of India


Putting to rest speculation about a change of guard, Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) on Saturday re-elected Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi, 70, as ‘sarkaryavah’ (general secretary) of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (R-S-S) for yet another term of three years. This will be Joshi’s fourth consecutive term as ‘sarkaryavah’.

Joshi was elected unopposed for the post. The highest decision-making body of the Sangh Parivar holds election for the second-in-command of R-S-S triennially at the Nagpur headquarters.

See also

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (R S S)

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (R S S): Goa

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