Opinion Op Ed 20 Mar 2016 360 degree: Costumes ...

360 degree: Costumes do not change character

Published Mar 20, 2016, 3:41 am IST
Updated Mar 20, 2016, 8:22 am IST
RSS may change its costume but will not change the character. That template is more than 90-year-old.
RSS has recently claimed that it has been able to expand rapidly in last one year with 90 per cent of its shakhas having students and professionals below the age of 40 years.
 RSS has recently claimed that it has been able to expand rapidly in last one year with 90 per cent of its shakhas having students and professionals below the age of 40 years.

Costumes and cosmetics do not change character. But in today’s dumbed-down media and fashion conscious world a belief has been promoted that image can be manipulated and marketed. The CEO or Sar-Sangh-Chalak of the largest corporate-styled NGO known as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and his “board of directors” have decided to follow the trend and create a new brand image for the organisation, more known for its conservative world view.

Sociologists have been debating for long, the nature of dialectic between tradition and modernity. Finally, the debate reached the gates of the monastery forbidden like a medieval fortress. Like 36th chamber of Shaolin Temple, known for training in martial arts, the Chief of the RSS conferred with his cabal and announced that the uniform of the Swayamsevaks will undergo a change. The new costume of brownish full pants will bring the khaki half pants brigade in the 21st century.


The RSS was started, to be exact, on September 27, 1925, by just about five persons, who created the Hindu idea of India — Hindu Rashtra.

Their idea of the Hindutva has survived though the uniform has changed. Actually the Hindu Maha Sabha was created a decade before the RSS, in 1915. It was not started or led by V.D. Savarkar, as many people wrongly believe. Savarkar was in jail in 1915, undergoing life sentence in Andaman. He did not even know about the Hindu Maha Sabha till he came out of the jail and became its icon.

It is generally not known that Savarkar did not support the vague RSS idea of cultural nationalism or the Sangh notion of Hindu Rashtra. Indeed, he was hostile to the Sangh and the hostility survived till recently as the BJP candidates had to face the HMS candidates in many constituencies. But the Sangh has appropriated the Savarkarite politics and many Hindutva followers don’t know or don’t care about their differences.


Read: RSS’ faith is its strength

Savarkar did not support the idea that cow was sacred or “mata” — the mother. He did not support the ban on cow slaughter. In fact his arch enemy, Gandhiji advocated the ban on cow slaughter. The only common point, if any, between the RSS and Savarkar was that both hated Mahatma Gandhi. They were also jealous of Gandhiji, because the Mahatma called himself a proud Hindu and had a massive following among Hindus, which they believed was their constituency.

The only time perhaps the RSS and the HMS found themselves on the same page was when Nathuram Godse killed the Mahatma. Today, Nathuram is being made into an icon of sorts by both.


The RSS always suffered from a kind of inferiority complex because most of the Hindus either went along with the Gandhi-Nehru leadership or chose other ideologies and leaders. Their hatred for Gandhi-Nehru legacy has nothing to do with Indira or Sonia. That venom in their hearts and minds is almost 90-year-old and will not go away.

Mohan Bhagwat has been repeatedly talking about Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra without providing a clear vision or mission statement. They want to isolate the Muslims by pretending to bring in the fold the Hindu Dalits or the Hindu OBCs, but cannot reconcile with the idea of the reservations, which they always opposed and now take a flip-flop position to electorally win them and yet impose the Brahminic-Vedic idea of social organisation.


Now the RSS has come to depend on Modi and the NRIs for dollars as well as western respectability. But Modi's megalomania does not allow the political share to the RSS. So though the RSS and Modi share common hatred and much of the RSS agenda, often they appear to be married but living separately.

The marriage survives because both hate Muslims, both are jealous of the Nehru-Gandhi legacy, both are aware that they have no specific ideology, both lack mass support but have managed the neo-middle class and the NRIs, both have no moorings in the freedom movement, and both have no future except without tolerating each other.


The BJP-RSS ties survive because both hate Muslims, both are jealous of the Nehru-Gandhi legacy, both are aware that they have no specific ideology, both lack mass support but have managed the neo-middle class and the NRIs, both have no moorings in the freedom movement, and both have no future without tolerating each other.

However, neither humans nor political parties can live and grow in a political vacuum. Patriotic jingoism will not be able to keep even the middle class together. The corporate capitalism has no interest in cultural nationalism except to generate frenzy and promote their profits.


The middle class has become so greedy and aspirational that the xenophobic nationalism and hi-octane Hindutva will not satisfy their materialistic and consumerist urges. So the RSS may change their costume, but will not change their character. That template is 90 year old.

The dumbed down media will give headlines to the superficial makeover in image for a while but when the mirror cracks, images will go asunder. The RSS has no courage to look into the mirror because the mirror will not only show the new dress but also the same face!!

Genesis of RSS


Doctor Kesava Rao Baliram Hedgewar (Doctorji), the founder of Sangh, announced on Vijayadasami, September 27, 1925, “We are inaugurating the Sangh today. All of us must train ourselves physically, intellectually and in every way so as to be capable of achieving our cherished goals.”

The name
The name ‘Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’ was selected for Sangh on April 17, 1926 in a meeting called for this purpose at Dr. Hedgewar’s house, from a list of four names — Jareepatak Mandal, Bharat Uddharak Mandal, Hindu Sevak Sangh, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.


Taking shape
Besides, daily meetings — Nitya Shakhas — were started at Mohitewada ground in Nagpur on May 28, 1926. Lathi-Danda was introduced in the shakha. New commands Daksha, Arama were used for the first time in shakhas. The tradition of commencing the daily activities with salutation to the Bhagawa Dhwaj and concluded with the prayer — prarthana — in Hindi and Marathi was instituted. First route march — patha sanchalan - was held with 30 participants.

The mission of reorganising the Hindu society on the lines of its unique national genius which the Sangh has taken up is not only a great process of true national regeneration of Bharat but also the inevitable pre-condition to realising the dream of world unity and human welfare. Our one supreme goal is to bring to life the all-round glory and greatness of our Hindu Rashtra.


Formal beginning of Sangh took place in Doctor Hedgewar's house in Sukrawadi of Nagpur.Training in drill, march etc was imparted on Sundays. Uniform for this training was Khaki shirt, Khaki shorts, and khaki cap.

Who are RSS members?
There is no formal membership procedure for RSS. Any one can join the nearest Shakha, basic unit.

RSS’ stand on various issues

Women entry in temples

Because of some unfair traditions, at certain places there has been a lack of consensus on the question of temple entry. Such sensitive issues should be resolved through discussion and dialogue and not through agitations


Selective quota

The provisions of reservation were for social justice. “It is felt that this thinking (demand by affluent class) is not in the right direction. People of such (affluent) class should give up their right and should help the weaker sections of the society. Instead of that, they are demanding reservation for themselves
— Suresh Bhayyaji Joshi, RSS general secretary

On reservations

If we would have implemented this (reservation) policy as envisaged by the Constitution-makers instead of doing politics over it, then present situation would not have arisen. We believe, form a committee of people genuinely concerned for the interest of the whole nation and committed for social equality, including some representatives from the society they should decide which categories require reservation and for how long.
— Mohan Bhagwat, RSS chief


On JNU-nationalism

It was the result of a conspiracy and those who raised slogans in support of Pakistan and Afzal Guru are traitors and should be charged with treason. Students participating in such sloganeering must be dealt with strictly
— Dattatreya Hosabale, RSS leader

On homosexuality

Homosexuality is not a crime, but a socially immoral act in our society. No need to punish them, but this is to be treated as a psychological case
Dattatreya Hosabale, RSS leader