The RSS has finally embraced a makeover. Not of the ideological kind, but in the sartorial department. The Hindutva outfit, which has been synonymous with khaki shorts for decades now, is ready to replace that bit of its uniform with trousers.
According to a report on The Hindu the decision to adopt trousers, instead of the baggy shorts, was taken to 'appear attractive for the youth'.
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Satish Modh, Konkan Prant Sahasangchalak of the RSS, told the newspaper, “Some favoured replacing the shorts, while others opposed it. Those pitching for change said the organisation must change with the times and take into consideration the comfort level of the youth. Those opposing the change said the shorts were part of the RSS identity; it’s branding."
The khaki shorts have been a part of the Sangh's uniform since its formal inception in 1925. The RSS website makes a mention of the same in a timeline. It says, "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 short, and Khaki Cap."
While the recurrent images of RSS presently show the Sangh sevaks in white shirts and black caps, the khaki shorts remain an integral part of the uniform. The shorts will not be completely done away with either. Modh said that the shorts will be retained for training sessions and other activities, where as the cadre will wear trousers during more formal occasions.
An Indian Express report quotes a 'senior pracharak' as saying RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat too has endorsed the idea of graduating to trousers. "Sarsanghchalak (Mohan Bhagwat) and Sarkaryawah (Bhaiyyaji Joshi) are both in favour of a new dress code and feel we must change with time. But there are some who are opposed to the idea," he says.
According to the IE report, two new uniform options are being considered. One includes a white T-shirt with black trousers, black cap, white canvas shoes and khaki socks.
"The second option includes a full-sleeve white shirt, pants — the proposed colours are khaki, navy blue, blue or grey — black leather or rexene shoes, khaki socks, a canvas belt and a black cap," the report states.
A 12-member committee is set to tour the country to get a sense of what the pracharaks and swyamsevaks across India want.
The uniform - called 'ganvesh' - underwent a change in 2010 the last time, when the canvas belt was replaced with a leather belt.
Though the organisation is seriously mulling a change of uniform, the plan won't be easy to execute. A RSS worker said, "Assuming that there are 50,000 shakhas and 10 swayamsewaks in each shakha, they will need 5 lakh new uniforms." He added that it could take years before all the members were provided with the new uniform.
RSS had seriously considered a change in its uniform once in 2013 too. A Times of India report from 2013, quotes a senior RSS functionary Ravindra Joshi as saying, "We are not averse to change in the uniform. There is a section in the RSS that strongly believes that the present uniform was perceived as ungainly and that because of this reason the young generation refrained from joining the 'shakha', the basic unit where RSS activists meet."
However, there was strong opposition to the idea from another section, forcing the organisation to put it on hold.
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