The RSS’s re-imaging efforts amount to whitewashing gore

The RSS is central to the Sangh Parivar, which includes the BJP

The right-wing extremist Hindu organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (national volunteer organization) will complete 100 years on 27 September 2025. The RSS has planned to extend its influence not only within India but also without. It has begun to hold discussions at its affiliated networks on a wide range of issues. The RSS plans to increase its 55,000 branches at the divisional level to 100,000 by 2025.

The RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, at Nagpur on 27 September 1925. It is the progenitor of the umbrella group of organizations, the Sangh Parivar (Sangh family), whose influence has percolated into all facets of Indian society. The RSS has a network of charities and educational institutions to spread its controversial Hindutva ideology.

- Advertisement -

Hedgewar was inspired by the European right-wing groups during World War II, such as the Italian Fascist Party. The RSS’s founder went to Calcutta to obtain military training from secret Bengali organizations then fighting for independence from the yoke of British rule. However, his critics point out that he was no freedom fighter. He had submitted a bond to the British of unflinching support to get released from exile in Andaman and Nicobar Island. The RSS’s membership runs into millions. It imparts paramilitary training to its Hindutva recruits of all ages.

The RSS is trying tooth and nail to dispel the impression that it is a fascist organization. The present-day advocates (pracharaks) of the RSS portray the organization as “a pacifist body”.

While delivering a lecture ‘Hinduism and National Integration’ at the RSS’s headquarters at Nagpur, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat said that Hindutva is not an ‘ism’, the English translation of Hindutva is Hinduness. He added that the derogatory statements made at the functions of Dharma Sansad (“religious parliament”, [Haridwar]) do not represent Hindu ideology.

Earlier, while speaking at a book launch event organised by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, the Muslim wing of the RSS, Bhagwat said the Sangh has always believed that the DNA of the people of India is the same and that both Hindus and Muslims are one entity. He further says that there would be no Hindutva without Muslims. His inference is that Muslims enjoy political equality in India despite the fact that their religion did not originate here.

Bhagwat envisages the Constitution as a tool to achieve a new national consensus, which could be modified, amended, and even revised from the Hindutva point of view through a legal process. Bhagwat’s queer logic is that the “Hindutva does not want a Hindu state; instead, it wants a constitutional state of Hindutva nation”.

The RSS’s genocidal role is a caricature of the Indian constitution, visualizing a `sovereign socialist secular democratic republic’ and its article prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.

Bhagwat and other RSS’s ideologues have been making pro-minority statements to placate minorities, particularly the Muslim. Bhagwat’s latest statement should be viewed in the backdrop of assembly elections in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (results due on March 10, 2022). The fact remains that C.P. Bhishikar’s biography of Hedgewar; Keshav Sanghnirmata tells how the RSS founder equated Muslims to “yavana” (foreigner/barbarian) hissing snakes. The RSS spurns Indian Constitution and believes India is a place for the Hindu nation (rashtra) to live exclusively in. It is eerie to hear Bhagwat emphasises that the DNA of the Muslim and the Hindu is the same.

- Advertisement -

An ideologue, M.S. Golwalkar, referred to Christians and Muslims as “internal threats” and foreign snakes (yavana snakes). He praised Nazi Germany as an example of “race pride” from which India could learn. Satish Misra, a political analyst at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi says, [Indian prime minister] “Modi is the most loved child of the RSS.”

Neerja Chowdhury, a political commentator and columnist reported: ‘The party advocates that to be a true Indian one has to be a Hindu. It describes other religious minorities, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, as part of India, because their faiths originated there. They believe that even India’s Muslims are actually Hindu because their Hindu ancestors were forced to convert to Islam’.

The anti-conversion laws in states, ban on cow slaughter, annexation of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir State, and now the combined civil code on the anvil are the RSS’s demands. The RSS wants to convert non-Hindus to Hinduism under its ghar wapsi (homecoming) or reconversion policy. On the eve of the recent elections in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP unveiled a manifesto enhancing punishment for interfaith marriages to the maximum.

The RSS’s ideology, as expounded by its founders, is moored in fascism. By 2025, the organisation wants to spread its influence abroad. It is a paramilitary adjunct to the Bharatya Janata Party. It is notorious for the role of its goons in beating and even killing protesters (controversial citizenship laws, Babri mosque demolition, etc). However, it could not show its legerdemain in quelling the farmers’ ongoing protest because the farmers were by and large united.

The RSS is fast influencing not only the Hindu but also the Muslim (Muslim munch). It show-cases its Muslim members, Muslim munch or wing to prove that even minorities join it of their own free will. Felix Paul (Yale University) contradicts the RSS’s claim. He has inferred that Muslim show-pieces join the Munch, inter alia, for fear of insecurity and abhorrence of their self-centred Muslim leaders, “anticipating material reward”. By providing empirical evidence, he challenged”the ideological claims of the Hindu right; that they are winning over Indian Muslims”. He says, “The RSS’ proximity to the incumbent BJP government, and its expansive institutional penetration make it a prime candidate for incentivising Manch membership and support.” In the past, the RSS floated several fake minority outfits like the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, the Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh and the Sarva Panth Samandar Manch. The only one active is the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat which operates a tiny clandestine network.

The RSS’s genocidal role is a caricature of the Indian constitution, visualizing a `sovereign socialist secular democratic republic’ and its article prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.

The Hindu civil and military leadership is nostalgic about ancient India’s prosperity during the Maurya and the Gupta periods achieved through total-war tactics (Major General Rajendra Nath, Military Leadership in India: Vedic Period to Indo-Pak Wars). The RSS extols that period as idyllic. A keynote of Krishna’s strategy: `End justifies the means. The truth may often have to be sacrificed in pursuit of victory (karma parva)’. Brihaspati and Kautilya (Arthashastra) stress koota yuddha (no-holds-barred war) or maya yuddha (war by deception) against the non-Hindu.

The international authorities should outlaw the RSS and its offshoots for their militant role against minorities.

Previous article
Next article
Amjed Jaaved
Amjed Jaaved
The writer is a freelance journalist, has served in the Pakistan government for 39 years and holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law. He can be reached at [email protected]

Must Read

The New Face of War

Since the beginning of time, wars and conflicts have been an inextricable part of human history. As such, they have developed in lockstep with...

Epaper_23-06-04 LHR