Over 60 million tribals, 100 million scheduled castes and over 50 million poor and backward section of the Indian society live in despicable life in slums of underdeveloped colonies and rural remote areas without electricity, sanitation and health facilities. They are illiterate, poor and suffer from various social evils such as discrimination, hatred and unsociability. The tribals have been cut off from modern civilisation; they are simple, poor and innocent and suffer from exploitation and injustice.
VHP workers equipped with intense national consciousness, healthy sanskars of ekatmata and without any communal, sectarian, linguistic and caste differences, have launched various service organisations to provide this underpriviliged class with social justice, social equality, social security and social awareness and create conditions conducive to their adherence to Hindu dharma and not to be misled by alien and anti Bharat-organisations for want of love and fellow-feeling.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad have also been playing an active role during natural calamities and in facing internal and external threats to national unity and integrity. The scope of its services vary from education to medical, poverty eradication to food and clothing and also to enlighten the underprivileged class about their rights and responsibilities.
For the removal of ignorance of this weaker section, the VHP took upon itself educational programmes, which include opening of schools in backward areas for imparting formal education, opening of balwaries for orphans and childran of the poor, Bal Sanskar Kendras for infusing cultural and national pride in them. At present, the Parishad has more than 850 regular schools, 1,100 balwaries and Bal Sankar Kendra 16,000 Ekal Vidyalayas, mostly in tribal areas.
In all these programmes, more than 4,00,000 (four lakh) children are being provided with free education. Also through the ?Support-a-Child? program, about 600 tribal children have been adopted and financially supported by the VHP of America and Canada.
VHP has 104 hostels and ashramshalas to train and equip enthusiastic youths to lead and enlighten their community.
More than 1,060 medical centers, including regular hospitals, mobile dispensaries, medical-aid centers and various other types of health camps are being run by the VHP. Tribals who used to practice witch-craft, animal sacrifice and magical and occult miracles have been brought around and they are now visiting the VHP medical centers for treatment in a big number.
Several schemes of self-reliance and poverty alleviation have been taken up by the VHP. New vocational training programmes like electric-motor winding, electrical and electronics gadgets repairing, carpentry, computer software and hardware training for the unemployed youth, besides the traditional vocational programmes of training in agriculture, bee-keeping and animal husbandry, have already been initiated. For unemployed women and housewives, the VHP is running 94 tailoring and sewing centers and 350 self-help programmes, which enable them to supplement their income.
With a view to save abandoned newborn babies the VHP is running 44 orphanages where these newborns children are nurtured. VHP also arranges for the adoption of orphans by the issueless couples.
VHP has started three hostels especially for the children of leprosy patients at Deval-Gangapur in Karnataka, at Haridwar in Uttaranchal and Nirog Bal Ashram at Kotkapura in Punjab.
Rural development programmes have been taken up in some states. Such programmes include farm irrigation, road construction and water harvesting facilities. Water filtration plants have been set up in the villages of Orissa for making available potable water for the poor and backward classes.
To eradicate untouchability, the VHP organises community meals, padyatras of saints and rathyatras carrying local deities to the doors of the backward classes who are otherwise prohibited by the upper class pundits to go to the temples. This inoculates in them the pride and feeling that they too can worship the same deities in the temples and interact with the upper class. Apart from this step, over than 4,000 satsang kendras have been organised to create an atmosphere of piousness, saintliness and spiritual sanctity. Over 300 temples have been built by the VHP in backward and far-flung villages of many states.
During major religious rallies, assemblages and festivals like Sabrimalai Mela in Kerala, Jaganath Rathyatra in Gujarat, Ganga Sagar Mela in West Bengal, etc., the VHP has been providing food, water and medical facilities. During natural calamities like earthquake, cyclone or train accident disasters, VHP workers have always been the first to reach the site of mishap to attend to the victims with first-aid and ambulance facilities. During the 2001 earthquake of Gujarat, VHP'sservices were described as one of the world'sbiggest rescue operation and crisis management. More than 11,000 people were fed daily. Doctors and specialised surgeons were deputed to treat the seriously injured victims. Similarly, during the October 1999 cyclone in Orissa, the Utkal Vipanna Sahayata Samiti provided relief and rehabilitation to the victims. Its volunteers disposed of a total of 1,300 human bodies and 11,493 carcasses.
The sewa activities of the VHP have infused confidence amongst the tribals and they now have the feeling of assurance that they are at par with the Hindus who serve them for their welfare. This assurance further created self-confidence and self-dependence amongst the tribals. They have now the courage to react and oppose conversions and have realised that by changing of religion their cultural identity will be lost. Mass awakening is taking place and a will to progress has been generated. The VHP, due to its paramount sewa activities in the tribal areas, is today recognised as a missionary organisation.
(VHP office, Sankat Mochan, Sector-6, R.K. Puram, New Delhi.)