The annual meeting of Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the highest decision making body of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has indicated the future roadmap for the organisation as it is approaching 100 years.
First and the foremost takeaway of this meeting, which was attended by the RSS top brass and 1,400 plus delegates from all over the country, is that while the rest of the world is expecting the organisation to hold some big bang events in 2025 as it is completing 100 years, the RSS would instead focus on the massive expansion of the organisation.
Thrust on Organisational expansion
The RSS is clearly focusing on getting short-term full time workers who would dedicatedly devote at least two full years for organisational work. Around 1,300 such additional ‘Vistaraks’ are already out in the field to help RSS’ expand its footprint.
According to RSS Sah-Sarkaryavah Dr Manmohan Vaidya, currently the RSS is working directly at 71,355 places and striving for social transformation. Over the next one year, it aims to expand its direct presence and service activity to about one lakh places across the nation. Around 109 training camps would be held within a year to train more than 20,000 volunteers.
The Sangh’s work and influence saw a big boost after the Covid pandemic struck in 2020, says Dr Vaidya. In 2020, as many as 62,491 Shakhas were held across 38,913 places, Saptahik Milan (weekly gatherings) 20,303, and Maasik Mandali (monthly meetings) 8,732. In 2023, all these numbers will see a significant uptick. Currently, 68,651 Shakhas are being organized at 42,613 places, Saptahik Milan 26,877, and Maasik Mandali 10,412.
According to the RSS’ scheme of things, there are 911 districts (the geographical categorisation of the RSS for its units is different from the official or governmental categorisation.). Out of these 911 districts, the RSS is working directly and actively in 901 districts. Similarly, the RSS holds Shakhas in 88% of the 6,663 Khands, and 26,498 of the 59,326 Mandals. A khand is similar to a block while a Mandal comprises a cluster of colonies. Shakha is a daily gathering of RSS’ volunteers in a public work for one hour. It takes place every day without a break, exactly at the same time. The volunteers i.e. swayamsevaks are given physical, intellectual and spiritual training during this one hour through games, yoga, patriotic songs, story-telling, chanting of mantras etc.
So it is clear that despite having made major inroads in all parts of the country and with almost approaching 100, the RSS is working with the same zeal to expand itself as it used to work in its initial years.
That is a critical characteristic of RSS as an organisation. It is unparalleled to see any organisation working with a similar zeal for 100 years.
Focus on 2047
As mentioned above, the RSS’ focus is not on 2025 but on 2047 which is Bharat’s 100th year of Independence. This is another characteristic of the RSS. It works with a long term vision which lasts over two to three decades. As a senior functionary, told this author in a conversation, when the question came up in 1980s about whether RSS should take up the issue of Ram Temple at Ayodhya and pursue it actively, the then Sarsanghchalak Balasaheb Deoras had told senior RSS functionaries, that it would not take less than 30 years to achieve the target and hence the organisation should be prepared for a long haul.
Now the RSS has taken up the issue of rediscovering Bharat’s selfhood. It is called ‘Swa’. This would mean rediscovering the original identity of the country, developing a deep understanding about our culture, traditions and values and practising them by adapting it to the contemporary context. Simply put, the RSS feels that a large section of the society still adheres to the western framework when it comes to our thought process as a society or a nation. That has been so deeply embedded due to deep impressions of colonisation which we had suffered for 200 years under the British rule and earlier for almost 800 years under the Islamic rule.
These impressions need to be corrected. But that would take no less than a few decades. The RSS has absolute clarity on it that ‘loss of selfhood’ is the root cause of all our problems and by restoring our selfhood, we can restore Bharat’s march to the pinnacle of glory.
That is the reason that the RSS passed a resolution on this specific issue. It is important to have a look at some parts of this resolution as I had mentioned in my last week’s column on the role of ABPS, that the RSS doesn’t pass resolutions merely as an exercise on the paper but it is preceded as well as followed by an action plan on the ground.
To give you an indication about what kind of action we are going to witness on the ground, let’s have a closer look at this resolution which said, “The Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) is of the considered opinion that the prolonged journey of Bharat’s ‘Swa’ to realise the noble objective of global wellbeing has always been a source of inspiration for all of us. During the period of foreign invasions and struggle, Bharat’s societal life got disturbed and social, economic, cultural and religious systems were severely mutilated. In this period, under the stewardship of revered saints and great personalities, the entire society preserved its ‘Swa’ while being in continuous struggle. The inspiration for this struggle was based on the ‘Swa–trayi(triology)’ of Swadharm, Swadeshi and Swaraj in which the entire society participated. On the auspicious occasion of Amrit Mahotsav of independence, the whole nation gratefully acknowledged the public leaders, freedom fighters and seers who contributed in this resistance.
After independence, we have attained remarkable achievements in many fields. Today, Bharat’s economy is emerging as one of the leading economies of the world. The resurgence based on Bharatiya eternal values is being accepted by the world. Bharat is heading towards a role for ensuring global peace, universal brotherhood and human wellbeing based on the conceptual framework of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’.
The ABPS is of the opinion that, in the process of making well organised, glorious and prosperous nation, we need to overcome the challenges of fulfilment of basic needs of all sections of society, opportunities for holistic development and building new models based on Bharatiya concept of modernity through judicious use of technology and eco-friendly development. To rebuild the nation, we need to make special efforts for achieving the objectives such as strengthening the family institution, creating fraternity based harmonious society and developing entrepreneurship with Swadeshi spirit. The entire society, especially youth, will have to make concerted efforts in this regard. As renunciation and sacrifice were essential for freedom from the foreign rule during the period of struggle; in present times, we need to establish a social life free from colonial mindset and committed to civic duties for realisation of above-mentioned objectives.”
It is clear from this year’s ABPS meeting that despite its detractors trying to drag its name in the political arena, the RSS would stick to its basic work i.e. organisational expansion and re-establish the lost selfhood of Bharat. And for achieving its objectives, it is rolling out a long-term plan whose first milestone will be in 2047.
The writer, an author and columnist, has written two books on RSS. He tweets @ArunAnandLive. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.
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