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Does India Deserve A Government Which Follows The RSS Model Of Nationalism?

23/10/2015 9:49 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or the National Volunteers Force chief Mohan Bhagwat listens to the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama during the World Hindu Congress 2014 in New Delhi, India, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. The three-day program beginning Friday aims at uniting Hindus across the globe. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

The Home Minister has expressed concern over growing intolerance in the country. The Finance Minister has spoken out against vandalism as a form of protest. Senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar is worried over growing communal strife in the country. Several people from the government and the Bhartiya Janata Party have spoken out against the tinderbox of hatred that our ecosystem has become. In a way, they are all admitting that all is not well with Modi's India and yet none of the above - including the Prime Minister want to address the crux of the problem.

Incidentally, Mohan Bhagwat vaguely describes the current incidents as 'small episodes that cannot dilute our culture', in his annual Vijaya Dashmi speech that got covered live by Doordarshan second time in the history of RSS (the first time was last year). General VK Singh invited well-deserved criticism by his dog-analogy when he likened the gruesome killing of two Dalit kids by Rajputs in Faridabad to dogs being stoned.

A lot of responsible and irresponsible comments are being made by senior ministers but little being done to contain the drift. It is important to know where the buck stops.

The answer to this question is critical to our understanding of the threat an organization that has all authority but no responsibility can pose to the society. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh with its paramilitary notions of being a self-appointed custodian of Hinduism, has under its umbrella, several organizations unaccounted for.

mohan bhagwat

This ambiguity provides the organization legal immunity just as anonymity helps trolls on social media to get away with the worst form of abuse and personal attack.

Thus, when Nathuram Godse kills Mahatma Gandhi, he is termed as a former member of the RSS. When Golwalkar's distasteful writings supporting the caste system, Brahmin supremacy and Hitler's concept of purity of race appear politically too incorrect, foolish attempts are made to first distance the author from his book and then distance the organization from the author - who was incidentally the second Sarsanghchalak of this organization.

When Organiser opposes the Constitution for not inspired by Manusmriti or when Panchjanya gets cornered for justifying the Dadri killing as sanctified by the Vedas, the organization smoothly disowns itself from both its mouthpieces.

When the affiliated organizations go and demolish the Babri Masjid, RSS distances itself from them too - the Liberhan Commission defines the RSS as a 'highly successful and corporatized model of a political party...' 'BJP remains an appendage of the RSS, which had the purpose only of providing an acceptable veneer to the less popular decisions and a façade for the brash members of the Sangh Parivar'.

Then RSS supremo KC Sudershan distanced his organization from the demolition by saying 'the mosque was demolished by the government men and not by karsevaks'. Displaying the tendency to speak in multiple voices and confusing people, there were other leaders of the RSS and its affiliates who took credit for the 'movement'.

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Mohan Bhagwat expresses an opinion against caste based reservations - a stand consistent with RSS's opposition to any privileges stipulated in the Constitution right from the beginning - the rest of the organization and the BJP distances itself from the stand. Multiple voices attempting to please all but the writ of the RSS runs large. It is not what the RSS says that matters, it is what it does that affects our lives, because it does it through its various organizations. And the result can be seen in Dadri, Muzaffar Nagar, Mainpuri and Trilokpuri.

Apart from the BJP, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad are among the leading organizations owing ideological patronage to the Sangh. There are other countless 'cradle-to-grave' organizations that draw active but invisible support and sustenance from the RSS. These include schools, NGOs, Gau Shalas, social clubs and organizations like the Vanwasi Kalyan Ashram, Gita Parivar, Janaki Ashram and Gayatri Pariwar, ostensibly for the welfare of tribals but essentially meant to sanskritize them.

"As the Modi government enters the middle of its second year, the agenda is swiftly getting hijacked by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh"

An organization that inculcates and thrives on pulp patriotism and spreads meaningless notions of cultural supremacy cannot be entrusted with guiding those who govern India. And those who govern India derive their world view and vision from this organization. The country is learning to its dismay that voting for the BJP translates into voting for a bunch of pseudo-nationalists who have no understanding of India and the modern world and want to impose their choices of food, language, culture, education and lifestyles on this vast country with varied cultures that have co-existed for centuries.

Imagine what would have been the impact of National Socialists if they had the aid of WhatsApp. That's the power of the Right Wing today. Every day millions of hate-filled messages are being transmitted to willing eyes ready to lap up anything that legitimizes their prejudices and beliefs.

As the Modi government enters the middle of its second year, the agenda is swiftly getting hijacked by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The government is visibly losing its grip on the narrative and the country heading to a long phase of uncertainty. An election victory at this critical stage would mean an unwarranted legitimacy to this polarizing narrative. Can India afford this? Does India deserve this?

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