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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The RSS’s ubiquitous influence in India

The writer explores how RSS has become the backbone of the ruling BJP in India. It claims to be a non-political organisation dedicated to the promotion of culture and education, however, in reality, it harbours a narrow xenophobic anti-non-Hindu ideology promoted through its school network.

While talking to Kaushik Basu, a professor of the Cornell College Rahul Gandhi remarked,` The Rashtriya Swayemsevak Sangh national volunteer corps makes use of [educational] faculties run by it to push a selected world view’. `Wherefrom money comes to run hundreds of thousands of schools’, he added. His off-the-cuff remarks amounted to showing a red rag to the bull. The RSS and BJP leaders were all fury.

The Bharatiya Janata Party Union minister of environment, Prakash Javadekar, retorted, RSS is the world’s biggest school of patriotism. It will take the Congress leader a long time to understand the RSS, “RSS desh bhagti ki duna ki sab sey barri pathshaala hai. Rahul Gandhi ko samajhney main waqt lagey ga.”

Irked by the BJP leader’s knee jerk reaction, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray reminded, ‘ BJP’s party’s parent organisation, RSS, did not take part in the freedom struggle, and it cannot prove its patriotic credentials by chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

Read more: Muslims are hissing Yavana snakes & traitors: RSS founders

Doubtless, it is the RSS that wields multifaceted authority in BJP-ruled India. This brutal reality is obvious from the episode mentioned heretofore. As tenure for India’s President Pranab Mukherjee drew to a close, the search for a new president started. Shiv Sena recommended the name of its sweetheart Mohan Bhagwat (current chief of the RSS) as a successor.

The Sena’s rationale was that Bhagwat was a befitting tribute to Hindu Rashtra (nation), the common ideological basis of both the RSS and the Shiv Sena. The Sena’s recommendation ripped open the hitherto camouflaged affinity between Shiv Sena Bal Thackeray) and the RSS (Bhagwat).

Bhagwat played a masterstroke by condescendingly regretting to accept the onerous offer and instead proposed the name of Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit (downtrodden) and an RSS loyalist to the Rashtrapati Bhavan (president house). Kovind later actually became India’s president.

Read more: India taken over by Extremist, Hindu Supremacist ideology of RSS: Imran Khan

 Bhagwat, the real Indian president?

In his 2017, vijaya dashmi’s speech, Bhagwat makes no bones about being the real force (primum mobile) to the Delhi government. Bhagwat’s address much resembled President Kovind’s presidential address. It contained applause for certain government’s actions, caution against some other, and direction for the future.

The only difference was that Bhagwat spoke from Nagpur (RSS’s headquarters), not from New Delhi, and was more assertive that Kovind. To all intents and purposes, Kovind was a “constitutional president” but Bhagwat was “the conscience keeper or the moral c custodian of the present government”.

Barely a month before his quasi-presidential speech, Bhagwat addressed a group of 50 diplomats at Nagpur. In his address, he touched on almost all current topics. He clarified that the RSS was an independent body, not attached to the BJP’s coat tail. “As Swayemsevak Sangh, we consult and exchange notes but are independent”. He gave a crystal –clear message to the world that the RSS mattered a lot in India’s present governance set-up and the world has to engage with the RSS as well.

Read more: BJP-RSS’ ‘koota yuddha’ on Muslims and misinformed Islamophobia

Bhagwat minced no words in asserting that Modi being a pracharak (apostle, or full-time workers), the RSS has the right to mentor and monitor his governance performance. All ranks of the BJP accept the RSS’s chief as” philosopher and guide” for expanding Hindutva in the larger public sphere through its cultural, educational and research activities.

Bhagwat addressed 700 academics from across the country to share his Hindutva perspective on education at gyan sang (confluence of knowledge). Bhagwat stressed this is not an alternative but a real attempt to develop an Indian perspective in education (decolonize past perspectives).

The RSS believes that colonial history taught in academia is misleading. It has to be rewritten. As such, it forced institutions to revise textbooks to accord with the RSS’s whims. Hindu culture was redefined, and fallen Hindu warriors, like Hemu (Hemachandra Vikramaditya), the last Hindu emperor of Delhi (defeated by Akbar), were resurrected as icons of resistance.

Since 2014, the RSS has a free hand in pushing its favourites to key posts. HV Sudarshan Rao of RSS’s family’s Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana (ABISY) was appointed head of the Indian Council of Historical Research.  The ABISY, established in 1984 has a vast national network of 500 professors and 350 publications. Noble Laureate Amartya Sen, vice-chancellor of Nalanda University had to resign. Heads of many other educational institutions were unceremoniously substituted with the RSS’s nominees.

Read more: The Great Transformation: How is RSS transforming India into a fascist regime?

RSS and military training

Following the Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral victories, there has been a mushroom growth of anti-Muslim quasi-military outfits in India. The headmaster of a school in Bengal filed a complaint with police that he has been receiving threats to his life for resisting forced military training in the school.

The `valour training’ included “training in how to load, unload and take aim with guns in the weapon training camp at the school.” The RSS trainees, with warped minds, now lynch kill or burn alive minorities on flimsy grounds like eating or selling beef, wearing a prayer cap, so on.

CIA classified RSS’s affiliates Bajrang Dal and VHP ‘militant religious organisations’. But, the Narendra Modi government shrugged off the label.

Read more: Islamophobia in India: New attacks on Indian Muslims

The RSS is no longer confined to educational and cultural activities. Now it is Nagpur, not Delhi that is the real power centre of Indian politics. Several governors and chief ministers are the RSS’s nominees. Narendra Modi had to drop his choice Manoj Sinha to substitute RSS’s nominee Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

The Hindu-monk chief minister has a criminal background of being a gangster who broke curfew to deliver a hate speech. He was jailed for 11 days. Recently, India’s chief of defence staff Biped Rabat met him, a fact that speaks volumes about his growing power.

Mr Amjed Jaaved has been writing freelance for over five decades. He has served the federal and provincial governments of Pakistan for 39 years. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies and magazines at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is the author of eight e-books including The Myth of Accession. He knows many languages including French and Arabic. The views expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.