Year-long celebrations: 100 years of RSS

To achieve a massive outreach, the top RSS leaders are meeting at various state capitals throughout India

To achieve a massive outreach, the top RSS leaders are meeting at various state capitals throughout India
To achieve a massive outreach, the top RSS leaders are meeting at various state capitals throughout India

World capitals to have mega events

Insider view of a massive outreach

Amit Shah is a BJP representative in RSS centenary celebration. It is an indication of the future strategy of the right-wing Hindu outfit RSS. Also how BJP gives a key role to the Union Home Minister.

What does it convey?

A mega plan for RSS centenary celebrations, in 2024 and 2025 is planned. RSS is not leaving a day to chance. Lots of hectic activities have been drawn. It is from local to global, not just district level but national level, international level. Almost all the heads of RSS in 18 world capitals met in New Delhi to work out a mega plan. As a part of the programmes, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is set to launch later this year an extensive global outreach to counter “erroneous” perceptions about its ideology and activities and to tell “the real side of the India story” according to RSS functionaries familiar with the plan.

To achieve this massive outreach, the top RSS leaders are meeting at various state capitals in India. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and key RSS functionaries including Manmohan Vaidya, Arun Kumar, Dr. Krishan Gopal, and C R Mukund are the key personalities liaising with the government and also top BJP leaders.

As per sources, the key meeting is to revolve around RSS’ plan around its programmes for the organization’s centenary year, which will be observed in the year 2025.

Sunil Ambekar, the Akhil Bhartiya Prachar Pramukh of the Sangh confirmed the outreach: “After 75 years of our Independence we must tell our true story. It is high time that we talk about our past, present, and future. And, not just about the Sangh, but about India. There should be representation in history about our ideas, the unheard-of dynasties, and the neglected parts of our past.”

Teams led by senior functionaries that include academics, subject experts, and representatives of non-government institutions will spearhead the outreach which will include “books and publications, documentaries in several foreign languages such as French, German and Arabic about India,” said a second RSS functionary who, too, asked not to be named.

The outreach will include seminars, lectures, meetings, and book readings in several languages in different countries and comes ahead of Sangh’s centenary celebrations that will begin in 2024.

The RSS, the ideological fount of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was founded in 1925 in Nagpur by K B Hedgewar. The RSS’ philosophy is seen by many outside the country, as well as within India, as “intolerant”, “sectarian”, and “anti-minorities”, said an RSS functionary who asked not to be named.

The outreach is the culmination of the ongoing efforts to create a body of literature to counter the western narrative about the Sangh, its political arm, the BJP, and the political and social changes in India, the two functionaries explained.

“The idea is to set the narrative about India and our social concerns, our concept of India, Hindutva, the region… This exercise will also prove helpful in shattering the myths about the Sangh and modern-day India,” said the first functionary.

This person added that has been a “concerted” effort to paint India as “intolerant” and “sectarian” and that the concept of “Hindutva” has been “distorted to seem like India is a country without minorities.”

“The RSS chief has clarified several times that Hindu Rashtra means an inclusive country where all sections and faiths coexist, yet the attacks against the Sangh have become sharper,” the first functionary said. He added that contrary to the perception that the Sangh drives a communal agenda, both the Union government and the RSS have been unequivocal in condemning lynchings and attempts by fringe elements of right-wing groups to impose restrictions on such things as food choices.

There has been growing concern over vigilantism by offshoots of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an affiliate of the Sangh that wants a complete ban on cow slaughter and implementation of strict laws to check religious conversions through marriages where coercion or inducement is proven. To be sure, this is not the first time that the Sangh is embarking on an image and narrative-building exercise.

Over the years, it has addressed the diaspora as well as western audiences to create a platform for dialogue. Some of its full-time volunteers are stationed in parts of Europe, Australia, and the United States to spread its message.

The renewed effort to change the discourse about the Sangh, and the contemporary polity and socio-economic context coincides with the Union government’s efforts to drive the narrative from the Indian viewpoint. “There has been a concerted effort to run down the India story. Though India has climbed to the position of the fifth largest economy in the world, there is an attempt to portray India in a different light, which takes attention away from the growth story,” said the first functionary.

A third functionary said the efforts to “bring to light” the “real history” of Indian dynasties are being driven from the top. “In the revised national education policy, efforts have been made to shed the colonial baggage and see things independently. This is being supplemented by creating conversations in society about revisiting history. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has frequently referred to historical events and how these have been presented (poorly) in the curriculum,” said the functionary

It is unclear when the outreach will be launched, but it could coincide with Sangh’s foundation day on Vijayadashami (October 24), when the RSS chief or the Sarsangachalak addresses the cadre.

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