Mainstream, VOL LIII No 1, December 27, 2014 - Annual Number
RSS raring for Seemalanghan (Crossing Barrier)
Saturday 27 December 2014
by Arun Srivastava
By the time the inertia-stricken secular forces come out of their dejection-shell, the Hindutva brigade led by the RSS would have accomplished the mission of “Hinduisation” of the country and altered its culture, social and economic ethics. Having set 2025 as the deadline for converting India into a Hindu Raj, it is in a tearing hurry to use the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as the harbinger of Hindutva’s social and work cultural ethos. Strategically the Sangh Parivar does not intend to give any impression of being in a hurry, but behind the veneer of respecting the socialist and Gandhian norms and ethics they are simply testing the people’s perseverance and acceptability indices. One development is noticeable: while the Modi Government is not showing even the slightest keenness in imple-menting the Hindutva agenda and preferring to follow the UPA’s policies and programmes, the saffron outfits, their leaders and the BJP’s elected representatives are ferociously pushing the Sangh agenda.
The RSS leadership knows it well that merely winning the 2014 Lok Sabha elections is not a gate-pass to enter into the edifice of the secular socialist republic and pull down the structure from within. This action would turn the Centrist polity of the country hostile to it. The November 30 remark of the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, at the congregation of Hindutva sadhus needs to be read in between the lines. While evaluating the performance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said: “The government may have changed, but the machinery that runs it was still the same. Hamaare Abhimanyu chakravyuh ko paar karenge (Our Abhimanyu will break through the circle).” Bhagwat referred to the challenges: “Despite the change in the ruling party, the government machinery (obviously referring to the bureaucracy). often created obstacles in the way of new initiatives.” His remarks simply underlined the fact that for ushering in a Hindu Raj it was imperative to change the government machinery.
The Indian bureaucracy has the reputation of being non-conformist. Even if the law does not hinder them from taking a pro-people stand, they prefer to hedge around and follow the clerical approach. They are immune to any idea, whether Left or Right. For them Centrism is the best course of governance. With a view to make an inroad into the bureaucracy, the RSS motivated the retired IAS and IPS officers to join the BJP and contest the Lok Sabha elections. The loyalty to fraternity is quite strong in the IAS ranks and in future these ex-IAS politicians would help the RSS fish more IAS officers and make a strong base in the bureaucracy. Ignoring this latest trend would virtually amount to commi-tting a hara-kiri by the secular political parties.
During the next five years the RSS is contem-plating to bring about fundamental changes in three spheres: the peoples’ perception, style of governance and transforming the administrative structure. The RSS has already initiated the steps. Changing the pattern of education, focusing on the old Indian testament of scientific approach and orientation as plastic surgery on Ganesh and Batra’s emphasis on Vedic literature and education are some of the issues making the rounds in intellectual and academic circles. The RSS is aware of the fact that the people’s perception cannot be changed unless the intellectuals and academics endorse the Sangh’s ideas and propositions. For changing their perception and psyche it is imperative that the RSS should engage with the intellectuals and academics.
The first step of the RSS in this direction has been promoting the 85-year-old teacher and educationist, Dinanath Batra, as the modern face of Indian education. Batra is working on his mission: preparing a “blueprint” for “Indianising” the education system and liberating it from the clutches of Western education. The Gujarat Government has been quite generous to subs-cribe to his views and extend all possible help. He even confessed that some “like-minded” academicians are already working on the blueprint. While the Modi Government is yet to set up a commission on educational reforms, Batra has gone ahead and set up his own commission, Bharatiya Shiksha Niti Aayog, to prepare the blueprint for the India-nisation of the education system. Parliamentary proceedings too are getting a Hindutva tinge, with the Lok Sabha Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan, concluding obituary references in Parliament with “Om Shanti, Shanti”.
Yet another significant step of the RSS in this direction has been to address India as Bharat. In every policy document it uses Bharat instead of India. Bhagwat in his speech observed: “The enthusiasm and resolve exhibited by the Bharatiya diaspora across the world towards Bharat is a welcome omen for the proud and prosperous Bharat. But we must also realise that all this is only a small step in the direction of our goal of making Bharat the ‘Vishwa-Guru’ of the world, a model nation that runs on the principles of happiness, peace and harmony. We have to build a Bharat where prosperity comes hand in hand with ethics and rationality; where compassion, service, welfare and fearlessness are constituents of invincible strength; whose path of development should promote universal welfare. This is the Bharat that we have to build. With similar expectations in mind the people of Bharat brought about a drastic change in the government. This change of government is not even six months old. But positive signs are emanating from time to time which give hope about the emergence of Bharat on the international horizon and it appears that the people’s desire of a life, secure and progressing in all its aspects, will soon start reflecting in the governance.”
Apparently the RSS may be content with the style of working of Narendra Modi, the fact remains that it is not willing to fritter away the time and opportunity. Watch what Bhagwat has to say: ”In a very short period, some policy initiatives taken by the Central Government in national interest on the fronts of economy, national security, international relations and many other areas have raised good hopes. The government should now ensure that these policies maintain their momentum in a determined and well-organised manner. We need to wait for some more time with a sense of hope and faith. The present overall ground situation of the country appears quite difficult and complex. Leaving everything related to the nation’s future in the hands of the government is not going to prove very effective.”
Narendra Modi and his aides are trying to present the façade of being immune to the goading of the RSS. But this is simply an attempt to bluff the people. The RSS is always on his back and he in fact is waiting for the right time to implement the core agenda of the RSS. Some mediamen for obvious reasons feed the infor-mation that the RSS is cut up with Modi as he is not following in its footsteps. This is purely a disinformation campaign. Such stories are planted to hide the real intentions of the RSS. Let us look at the Sadhvi episode.
Trying to defend Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, a Minister in his government, Narendra Modi told the Lok Sabha: “The Minister has apologised, she’s new and we are also aware of the social background. She comes from a village.” Modi’s statement gave a message of discrimination. Modi bracketed all women of rural India with the Sadhvi, conveying that they all use abusive language. He willfully ignored the fact that rural women are very polite and do not use Sadhvi’s abusive words. On being caught on the wrong foot in the Sadhvi’s case, the government even tried to play the Dalit card. Here too the government misled the people. She neither belongs to the Dalit community nor is she from the Scheduled Caste community. She comes from the backward Nishad caste. Modi in fact wanted to tell the nation that what Sadhvi said was not incorrect. Else there was no reason to defend her.
The recent statements of the Sangh Parivar leaders and the government’s decision to replace German with Sanskrit in the Kendriya Vidyalayas have shocked the academics and parents. The RSS is concerned of its objectives, not of the future of the students. The move was resented but Modi did not ask his HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, to retreat. Inducting Irani as the HRD Minister is often cited as the example of Modi trying to assert his authority on the RSS. But that is an entirely wrong presumption. Besides being a good friend of Modi, the HRD Minister is a non-controversial figure. In case a leader with an RSS background was given the responsibility then the situation might have been different. For him it would have been a tough proposition to implement the RSS agendas. On the contrary Smriti is a soft and safe bet. With Irani as the HRD Minister the RSS can plan to have its task accomplished without any major fuss.
One fact ought to be kept in mind: Modi cannot survive without maintaining the façade of independent assertion and pursuing the Centrist policy. It was expected of him that he would take a proactive role in pursuing the reforms. He does not intend to give the impression that he was in hurry to pursue reforms. To maintain his public posture he has been giving lip-service to the UPA’s programmes of inclusive growth. While he is busy playing to the gallery, the RSS has been busy preparing the economic roadmap. The RSS affiliate, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM), is busy evolving India’s development model in consultation with all saffron ‘stakeholders’. Some media people try to pit Modi’s ‘Make in India’ against the RSS move. We ought not to forget that Modi is the Prime Minister and he has to interact with the international and national players. Obviously he must have his own programme. But that does not mean that he was going against the wishes of the RSS. In fact the SJM has accepted his ‘Make in India’ idea and even endorsed his pro-manufacturing push. It would be naïve to believe that there is a clash between Modinomics and the RSS’s ideological stand on economics. Modi has a compulsion. As the PM he must propel growth as the eight per cent plus growth that China boasts of is always hanging on his head like a sword.
The RSS is not willing to rush into public glare to give a concrete shape to its policies and agendas. It knows that if the Modi Government dares to change the fundamental paradigm of the republic, described by the Supreme Court as the ‘Basic Structure of the Constitution’, of which secularism is an inseparable part, then that will surely prove to be the beginning of the end of Modi’s prime ministerial tenure. The structural changes would have to be carried out in a phased manner. When the BJP goes to the polls in 2019 it would have the RSS programme as the basic poll manifesto.
Modi has been extending his hand of friendship to all other communities, especially the Muslims and Christians, but true enough he has his own design. He was badly exposed in the matter of conversion. He is the Prime Minister of the country and for him members of all the communities are equal but he tilted towards the Hindu outfits. In the case of conversion of Muslims his ostrich-like behaviour was quite discernible. Even while he tolerated disruption of Parliament’s procee-dings he did not speak against the members of the Sangh Parivar involved in this matter.
With tacit support from the Modi Government, the Dharm Jagran Samiti has declared that it will ensure India becomes a Hindu Rashtra by 2021. The DJS openly threatened the Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism if they want to stay in this country. The RSS has formed committees in every district of the state for this purpose. They have included some Arya Samaj priests in the team because they issue a certificate to a converted person. The audacity of the Hindu group leaders could be gauged from their assertion: “We never ask Modi or any other BJP leader before chalking out our strategy. We only expect them to speak for or against us to clarify their stand. But Modi is the Prime Minister so his silence means his approval.”
The Modi Government has targeted Christ-mas Day, December 25, as the mega event to showcase its achievements. This day is celebrated by everyone irrespective of which community he/she belongs. But this year the Modi Government has decided to observe it as Good Governance Day. This is the most ridiculous proposition. There will be no Christmas Day. In all the 281 constituencies that they represent, BJP MPs will celebrate Good Governance Day as a tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, whose birthday falls on that day. Smriti Irani had even issued a circular to all the schools across the country. By doing so she had violated the Indian Constitution which guarantees freedom to practice religion. Interes-tingly on Teachers’ Day Modi addressed children, on Gandhi Jayanti the Modi Government had the Swachch Bharat programme and on Christmas Day they have a programme on Good Governance. There seems to be a design to replace the original significance of the day by creating a new one. The Regional Commissioners are to “encourage participation of students” and submit a “consolidated report specifying activities carried out with photo-graphs and video recordings”. This is a ploy to track whether the Christian schools follow the directive and observe the Good Governance Day.
Apprehensions have come true that the RSS will use the Modi rule to expand and tighten its grip on the political and administrative structures of the country. When the BJP was not in power less than 200 people applied for RSS membership every month. Now it receives nearly 5000 applications every month. Since July 2014, the number of shakhas has gone up from 39,000 to beyond 42,000, a nearly 10 per cent jump in just four months. Mohan Bhagwat has set the target of one crore volunteers and one lakh shakhas in the next five years. The RSS is working on a multi-pronged strategy to expand with the help of the government. RSS affiliates have been reaching out to the rural people through organisations working in the field of education and social activities. At present 44,982 shakhas are being held at 29,624 places. Saptahik Milans (weekly congre-gation) are being held at 10,146 places, whereas work is being carried out in the form of Sangh Mandalis (monthly congregation) at 7387 places. It is worth mentioning that during the time of Atal Behari Vajpayee the number of shakhas had increased to more than 51,000 in 2004. Once the NDA was voted out of power the number came down 39,000. The increase in membership comes as a shot in the arm for the RSS for there was a perception that they were facing a crisis in attracting the young. Sangh officials admit that there had been a spike in numbers when they celebrated Guru Golwalkar’s birth centenary in 2006-07.
It cannot be denied that the RSS is working on the programme to bring about a silent revolution in India. While the secular forces are yet to reconcile to their electoral rout, the RSS is making full use of the situation. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the secularists are to be blamed for this situation. They should have foreseen the situation that was to emerge post-Lok Sabha elections. But they could not. They must find out the reason why the youth are rallying behind the RSS. The RSS unit of Uttarakhand organised Nav Srijan Shivir, a new fusion camp, for the youth in Haridwar from November 28 to 30. The three-day camp was attended by 5559 students from 251 colleges and universities of Uttarakhand. Among the participants, there were 3022 graduates, 677 post-graduates, 105 LLB, 38 Ph.D, 1728 coming from the field of technology. Nevertheless it would be naïve to believe that the RSS would wipe out the secular forces and ethics. But one thing is certain: mere screaming by the secularists would not salvage the situation.
The author is a senior journalist and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org