Opinion: An Open Letter to Rahul Gandhi
I will suggest you to join the nearest Shakha for a month atleast. Trust me, it will do a world of good to your both mental and physical fitness. Besides this you will be able to claim that you have done “Social MBA”.
I heard your speech at NSUI Conference live on TV Channels. It was as usual full of mistakes and lies, a trademark of Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty. No, I am not going to list them. I just thought I must clear your ignorance on one subject i.e. RSS Shakha, which has produced two Prime Ministers, and which was invited by your great grandfather to participate in the Republic Day Parade. Here we move beyond the whence and whither and into the heart of the matter…
One of the important works in management education is ‘Change Management Education’ of H Mintzberg. “The MBA is a fabulous design for learning about business,” he said. “But if you’re trying to train managers, it’s dead wrong. The MBA trains the wrong people in the wrong ways for the wrong reasons.” “Right now, we are creating a kind of neo-aristocracy,” he complains, “a ‘business class’ that believes it has the right to lead because it spent a couple of years in a classroom.” But if you really want to learn how to be a manager, he says, you need to be in an environment with, well, other managers. “This is supposed to be about leadership,” he says, “You can’t create a leader in a classroom.”
Mintzberg designed International Masters in Practicing Management (IMPM), to overcome the pitfalls
There are five modules:
n Managing Self, the reflective mind-set; Managing Relationships, the collaborative mind-set; Managing Organisations, the analytic mind-set; Managing Context, the worldly mind-set; and Managing Change, the action mind-set.
“Management is, above all, a practice, where art, science, and craft meet,” says Mintzberg.
Long before Mintzberg, Dr. KB Hedgewar realised that unless the society was united and a core of disciplined, dedicated people with high moral values was at work selflessly, rulers might change but society will not really benefit. He drew upon the age old ideas and Indian genius to come up with the unique concept of Sangh Shakha which forms the backbone of RSS. Let me first explain you the working of Shakha at grass roots and realise how it has led to strong team building and grooming of leadership at all levels of society.
Some of the characteristic features of Shakha are:
n All the activities conducted in a Shakha have an underlying theme of building team spirit, putting team ahead of self, readiness to take any responsibility given to a member, inculcating Indian value systems, selfless dedication and patriotism – on daily or regular basis.
n Regular intellectual discussions and lectures to inculcate interactive skills and readiness to absorb new ideas.
n The ‘mantra’ of the Shakha is ‘ekashah sampat’ i.e. swayamsevaks are asked to fall in a line in a single file. This approach simply helps subdue any feeling of superiority or inferiority because of social differences like caste, language, status or income.
n This does not mean losing individuality but turning individual actions to the collective interests.
n Various programmes create a benign atmosphere of brotherhood that extends beyond the one hour programme and permeates one’s thinking throughout his life at all levels.
n Daily prayer to the glory of motherland creates a sense of dedication; and treating the saffron flag as the supreme Guru.
n Directions about avoiding self promotion and publicity. He knew that it could lead to unhealthy trends.
n There are no officers in Shakha but only office bearers. The senior swayamsevaks, who are more active are called ‘karyakartas’ and they are trained in such a natural way through this system of Shakha that they become leaders and the best managers of men and events.
n All this results in a mindset, because of which a swayamsevak never feels that social work is a burden to him. Slowly, but steadily, motivated by the dedication of the senior volunteers or karyakartas, he also starts dedicating more time to social work without any self interest.
n In this process trainees grow in succession to become trainers and the continuity from one generation to another is maintained. The motto for the senior trainers or workers is – ‘accept a person as he is and mould him into a dedicated worker you wish him to be.’ There couldn’t be a better lesson for an HR manager.
On being questioned, what will RSS do? Dr. Hedgewar had responded, “RSS will do nothing, the swayamsevak will do everything.” With this answer he indicated that the swayamsevaks trained in Shakhas will work as motivated selfless workers in various social fields on their own. They will be the instruments of social change.
Dr. Hedgewar introduced some simple but highly significant techniques for running of the Shakhas which could be called on-field training in today’s management parlance. It can be safely termed as the most successful attempt made by anyone in India to organise the youth for nation building in such large numbers.
As a volunteer and office bearer, a swayamsewak needs to have certain competencies:
n Readiness to roll up the sleeves and soil one’s hands for any work.
n Self discipline to work for the organisation.
n To nurture abilities for this purpose even if they are not there in the first place.
n Willing to listen with open mind. It has to become a discipline and not just a skill.
n Have patience to communicate well with one’s colleagues so that they understand him. If required show by action and role play.
n Ability to understand that the task is bigger than the person. One has to develop objectivity and certain detachment. Any organisation can survive even the most critically important person with such an outlook.
n Ability to work as a team and rise above individual ego. Go as per team decision once it is accepted through deliberated consensus
By nomenclature and normal world view, Shakha and IMPM are miles apart. But if one looks closely, which a thinking manager is suppose to, one will find amasing similarities.
We can safely say that RSS Shakha is a social IMPM; and if we were to add business discourse it could result in an ‘alternative MBA or Social MBA.’
Here are very few examples of Shakha trained ‘managers’ who have handled even emergency situations with professional finesse and delivered results at most crucial times:
n In the book ‘Converted Kashmir: A Litany of Mistakes’ author N. Sehgal gives one such example:
“There were no airfields for facilitating the landing of Indian Air Force men. Wherever they existed, they were in a pitiable condition. Not to speak of the planes, even people could not walk on those runways. There was need for their quick repair and renovation. But it was not possible to arrange a big force of labourers. Even if thousands of labourers could be arranged it was not possible to pay them their wages in those conditions. There was need for such skilled manpower who would work voluntarily….The matter was discussed with Sangh leaders. Everyone was ready. On receiving the directions, thousands of RSS workers jumped into the field. The repair and the renovation of the airstrips in Srinagar, at Poonch and in Jammu were carried out round the clock for making these three airstrips worthy for landing within the stipulated time.”
n During natural disasters, swayamsevaks have reached the disaster sites generally even before the official machinery could activate itself, be it Andhra Pradesh cyclones, Morbi floods, Latur and Gujarat Earthquakes or Tsunami in South India. During the Morbi disaster that occurred during Ramzan, Sangh and its relief agencies provided nearly 4,000 Muslims, lodged in relief camps, with necessary facilities to go through their religious rites without a break even for a single day. ‘Tughlak’ of Chennai wrote, “People in Morbi look upon Swayamsevaks as Gods!”
Dear, Rahul hope you would have a better picture of RSS and Sakha now. I will suggest you to join the nearest Sakha for a month atleast. Trust me, it will do a world of good to your both mental and physical fitness. Besides this you will be able to claim that you have done “Social MBA”. The only hitch that I can see is that you will have to get up early on Sunday.
—Sandeep Singh, www.swastik.net.in