Shri M.G. Vaidya is a senior RSS leader, journalist and former spokesman of the Sangh. A Delhi-based journal sent a questionnaire to Shri Vaidya to interview him. He answered all of them. But they carried only a few. Here we give a full text of the queries and his answers, as they will help obtain a clear perspective of the Sangh.
How has the RSS changed since the earlier times?
The RSS was founded in 1925. Many a change has been effected as happens in any living organism. In the beginning only schoolgoing young boys attended the Shakha. So the Shakha programmes were conducted in the evening only. Later on, employed people came to attend; for their convenience, the morning Shakhas were started. Afterwards, the RSS reached the rural areas. For labourers and farmers, the night Shakhas came to be started.
There was change in the ceremonial uniform also. The pants as well as shirt was of the same colour, i.e. khaki. During the Second World War, the then British Government imposed restrictions on the drill-exercises conducted by private organisations. One restriction was that the drill should not be conducted in uniform and the uniform was defined as having identical colours for pants and shirt. The RSS changed the colour of the shirt from khaki to white. Formerly long boots were an essential part of the uniform; now ordinary boots can do.
Many changes took place in the nature of the physical programmes also. Nagpur being its birthplace, the RSS adopted and adapted the physical training routinely given in the akharas (traditional gymnasiums), e.g. wielding lathi (stick), sword and spear. Later on, they were dropped and surya-namaskar, niyuddha (similar to Judo, karate), and yogasanas were introduced. Even some of these programmes were waived to suit the Swayamsevaks who were above 45 years of age. A sizeable number of Swayam-sevakas in the age group of 45-70 are daily attending the Shakhas; for them yogasanas and dhyana are part of the programme.
The original prayer of RSS was partly in Marathi and partly in Hindi?a typical reminder of the bilingual character of the province named as Central Provinces and Berar, which contained eight Marathi-speaking districts and 14 Hindi-speaking districts, with Nagpur as the capital. When the RSS spread to different parts of the country, it adopted its present Sanskrit prayer from the year 1940. Even the orders in the Shakhas, which were formerly given in a mix of Marathi, Hindi and Sanskrit, were all changed to Sanskrit. So it is a gradual evolution. The spirit is the same, the form has changed. You can call it a gradual enfoldment.
What do you think of Mahatma Gandhi'sassass-ination? Was it good or bad? Why?
It was bad. It hurt our culture, our value system. The RSS condemned the crime. The then RSS chief, Shri M.S. Golwalkar, while condoling Mahatma'sdeath had written to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, on January 31, 1948, ?This vile act is a blot on our society.? He called it an ?abominable act?. To Sardar Patel, in his Hindi letter, he said, ?Such a heinous and abominable incident has probably never been witnessed before?.It is difficult to find words to condemn the person who has committed the crime.? All Swayamsevaks share this sentiment.
What are the RSS views on Muslims?
Being staunch Hindus, we do not have any prejudice against any religion. But the behaviour of the majority of Muslims has become strange after 1947. The British rulers tried hard to dissuade the Muslims from joining the mainstream movement for Independence. They nurtured and nourished their separatist tendencies and the Muslims fell victim to the British strategy. This resulted in the vivisection of our beloved motherland. The RSS feels pained at this vivisection. It is remarkable that 85 per cent of the Muslims, who did not go to their dreamland of Pakistan and were destined to remain in Bharat, voted for Pakistan. In the 1946 elections, the Congress was for ?Akhand Bharat? and the Muslim League for divided Bharat. And in all the constituencies reserved for Muslims, where the entire electorate used to be Muslim, 85 per cent voters voted for Partition. We could have forgotten this ?sin?, but their attitude still persists, and many of our political parties, for their narrow political ends, even now pamper their separatist mentality. Instead of strengthening the 15 per cent that voted against Partition, the Congress, which came to power in 1947, followed policies that nourished fissiparous tendencies of pro-Partition. Why is there no uniform civil law? Why is there a special Article 370 for J&K state? Why is Haj subsidy given? Why are there different criteria to judge the below-poverty-line status? They say that they want to preserve the special identity of the Muslims. Has the separate identity of the Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists got obliterated by following the uniform civil code? In Goa, there is a common law on marriage and divorce for all citizens, including Muslims. Has the religious identity of the Muslims vanished? Why is there Article 370 only for J&K state? Is it not a fact that it is so, because it is a Muslim-majority state? Why were 5 per cent Kashmiri Hindus hounded out of the Kashmir Valley? Why in western Pakistan the Hindu population, which was 18 per cent in 1947, is now just 1 per cent? And in Bangladesh, why has it reduced from 38 per cent to 9 per cent? The Muslims owe an explanation for this. We know that there are patriotic Muslims also; and they share the RSS view of ?one nation, one people?. Quite a few of them might be attending the RSS Shakhas also. Even admitting that the Muslims are a religious minority, their special rights should be restricted to the religious sphere only. They should not be extended to political, administrative, economic or social spheres; irrespective of the religious denominations, all have equal rights. The value of each citizen'svote is same, then why this craze for separate treatment?
Why are there no Muslims in the RSS hierarchy?
We do not maintain a religion-wise, caste-wise or language-wise register, because we do not make a distinction on these counts. Our setup is based on unmitigated commitment to and sacrifice for our ideology and ideals. Those who fulfil this condition, rise high. It will be profitable and appropriate to address this question to the Muslims.