The RSS annual Prant Pracharaks meeting was held in Nainital, Uttara-khand, from July 22 to 24. The meeting is regarded very significant for organisational matters in the RSS. Organiser Senior Correspondent Pramod Kumar spoke to RSS Sahsarkarya-vah Shri Vadla Bhagaiah in New Delhi to know the decisions taken at the meeting and also the activities planned for expansion of the Sangh work in coming days. Excerpts:
- What are the major decisions taken at Nainital meeting?
The Sangh work is expanding rapidly for the last five-six years because of the efforts of the karyakartas. Naturally, the response from the society is also growing. It reflects in number too. The annual Sangh Shiksha Vargas have witnessed the increase in thousands. In Prathmik Vargas the number of participants has crossed one lakh. Similarly, the number of Shakhas is also increasing.
- What is the present status of Sangh work at national level?
The RSS has expanded its base in all the districts across the country except 14 districts of the Kashmir Valley and some remote areas in Assam. Out of total 55,000 Mandals in the country, we are active in 25,000 Mandals. This year we have planned to reach out to every Mandal. All the Prant and Kshetra level karyakartas and adhikaris will tour every Khand—previously called Taluk or Block. They will reach even to the villages where there is no Sangh Shakha today. After doing ground work in such villages for some time they will select some farmers and labourers who stay there permanently. Then on a particular day an event will be organised at Block level throughout the country. This will be the biggest expansion drill by the Sangh this year.
- Will this event be held the same day all over the country?
No, it will be planned by every Prant as per their convenience. The main plan is that all Prant and Kshetra level karyakartas spend one day in a block from morning to evening.
- What is the objective behind this whole exercise?
There are three major objectives. First is the Hindu Renaissance i.e. Hindu Sangathan and social harmony. The people in village should feel that the entire village is one family. There may be some differences, but we are all one. Second objective is promotion of organic farming. We will motivate the farmers to get rid of chemical farming. The third objective is preservation and propagation of human, family and cultural values—love, affection, social harmony, etc. We appeal to the people to follow India’s age old concept of ‘matrivata paradareshu, paradraveshu losthavat; atmavat sarvabhuteshu’ in their daily conduct. When we say ‘atmavat sarvabhuteshu’ we say the same God prevails in the whole universe. So, no question of untouchability or high and low arises. Similarly, paradraveshu losthavat means the money earned through corrupt means is poison for us. ‘Matrivata paradareshu’ means the attitude towards women should be motherly. If this attitude is inculcated, the crimes and atrocities rate against women will come down. Whatever the law does for it is different, the Sangh looks at it in this way. When we explain this shloka to the people during Kutumba Prabodhan programmes, the response is very encouraging.
- Has the work on these points begun anywhere in the country?
Yes. It is being carried out throughout the country. It is very successfully progressing in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra for two years. The workers are conducting surveys there to study the ground realities. For the last one year, Sarsanghachalakji has been appealing to the society to ensure common wells, tanks, temples and crematoriums for all the Hindus. But nobody has the data as to how many people are actually denied these basic things. The surveys have proved to be very helpful in it. Because of the collective efforts of the individuals, swayamsevaks, organisations associated with the Sangh like ABVP, VHP, Samarasata Manch, Kisan Sangh, etc, senior saints, Shankaracharyas, Dharmacharyas and the organisations like Art of Living, Gayatri Parivar, Chinmaya Mission, etc temple entry has been ensured to all people in many village. We know still much has to be done on this front. Without hurting the feeling of anybody we have to educate the people. The decision in this regard was taken in March but details were worked out now. This will go on till March next year. At some places, some of the Scheduled Castes leaders are also working to strengthen social harmony with full devotion to the motherland.
The issues published by Organiser and Panchjanya on Baba Saheb Ambedkar this year have also proved to be a scholarly effort in strengthening social harmony. Baba Saheb was not only a messiah for depressed people, he was a statesman for entire country. His life and works were highlighted in those volumes in an integral way. People have widely appreciated that as a great endeavour. Many have read the entire volumes, while some are conducting lecture series on them.
- A similar appeal against untouchability was also made in 1969. Has that not worked?
The appeal worked well. But at that time the organisational structure was not so wide. Acceptance by Dharmacharyas is one thing, practice in daily conduct by people is different matter. This is a big challenge. It naturally requires time to take the message to each and every house. Now we are trying to do it with the help of like-minded organisations. It needs a change of heart in the people.
- What is the Highway Project taken up by the Sangh?
The project has been started to awaken the people living in the villages situated at national and state highways towards their cultural values. The project is on the progress for some time, but now it is gaining momentum. Normally, a six hour programme is organiesd for these people. I would like to share a wonderful experience of one such meeting held at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi sought the opinion of the participants on the ills afflicting the Hindu society. Some mentioned untouchability, while some counted division, neglect of deprived people, etc. Some said because of these weaknesses outside people attack the Hindu society. They opined to ‘first set our own house in order’. Then Sarkaryavahji suggested them three remedies—either continue to depend upon the government or some voluntary organisations, or do it yourself. Ninety per cent of the participants said “we should do it ourselves”. At Thanjavur meeting some people also told Bhaiyaji that they now feel the dire need to learn Hindi. Bhaiyaji asked them the reason. They said ‘wherever our Prime Minister goes in the world he speaks in Hindi. We listen to it but are unable to understand. To understand him properly we should learn Hindi’.
- Is there any plan for environment protection also?
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has started planting lakhs of saplings during its golden jubilee year. Other swayamsevaks are also doing the same at other places throughout the country.
- Sarsanghachalakji says atmosphere is favourable to expand the work. Is it because there is a favourable government at the Centre or the society is now more awakened?
Because of the dedicated and selfless services of the swayamsevaks people have started looking at the Sangh with hope and faith. In many villages of Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh untouchability has been curbed. The Sangh does not depend upon TV or newspapers to spread its ideas. We depend upon the conduct of our own swayamsevaks in daily life. With the change in political atmosphere, many people or organisations who earlier supported us but hesitated to join us are now openly working with us. This is a big change. “Join RSS” initiative through internet has also received tremendous response. About two years back just 800 to 1,000 people joined the RSS through this initiative, but now about 10 to 15,000 people join every month.
- You said to focus on villages now. What about the urban areas where a section of the media claims that the number of Shakhas is decreasing?
Those who do not know anything about RSS make such baseless claims. We focus on both rural and urban areas simultaneously. Like villages, we have decided to reach out to every Basti in cities also. Bharatmata Pujan will be conducted on large scale all over the country. In such programmes people from all sections come together. Since there is change in education system, we have started student Shakhas in morning also. Thousands attend the weekly Milans. Weekly Shakhas are run not only for IT professionals, but also for High School students.
- What about coordination between different organisations?
Generally, the swayamsevaks are in contact with all sewa, spiritual and Dharmic organisations. Sangh wants to serve the society taking all people or organisations together. We don’t want the credit for any good work. The credit should go to the society.
- What is being done to tap the college students?
College students attend Shakhas at over 30,000 places everyday. A sizable number of students also attend weekly Shakhas. Thousands of college students attended the camps held last year throughout the country. In West Bengal, about 15,000 youth attended a camp after paying the camp fee. Now we are planning more weekly Shakhas and different activities to engage them in sewa activities. Recently, in Samarth Bharat programme held in Bengaluru about 4,000 people including 900 women came together for two days. We have identified 42 areas where they can contribute. For example, organic farming, orphanage, work for mentally retarded children, cultural development, human values, curbing conversion, home coming, women welfare, child development, slum development, etc. They attended the meeting according to their areas of interest. The response was so enthusiastic that 50 of them became full timers and rests are working as part timers. They spare every Sunday for the society. The theme “If you have a Theme, We have a Team; If you have a Team, We have a Theme” hugely inspired them. In Hyderabad, CEOs of about 100 companies and IT professionals came together. In this way we connected the corporate houses with the development activities.
- What has been planned for promotion of organic farming?
Lakhs of farmers successfully practise organic farming today, but they do not know each other. We are trying to bring them closer. Model farms have been developed at some places so that the farmers can see and emulate. When we take up organic farming the protection of cow naturally comes in. Even if the cow stops giving milk she gives money through urine and dung. It was the original concept. How it successfully worked has now been proved scientifically. This message should reach every farmer’s heart. We are doing that.
Karnataka has done very good progress in this area. Devalapar Goushala in Nagpur has also done some commendable experiments on cow products. Similarly, Eklavya Foundation in Hyderabad is doing wonderful work in Vanvasi and rural areas. The Foundation has developed several model projects in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. They took six acres of barren land on lease, made it fertile and displayed astonishing results. Those who earlier laughed at them now follow them. The ‘Brahmastra’ and ‘Goushakti’ medicines prepared by them have proved to be a wonder for mango, pomegranate, papaya plantation. In Rangareddy district, they have now purchased 100 acres land. People donated for it. The Appeal for it was “If you donate Rs five or ten lakh for it, your family will get nothing, but the society will get everything”. Impressed with it some retired IAS officers, working agriculture scientists and IT professionals have also joined hands with the project. The Foundation has also started Diploma Course in Agriculture. Similarly, the Pennidhi Foundation in Hyderabad has started imparting skill training to rural youth. Eklavya Foundation, Pennidhi Foundation and Sewa Bharati are jointly conducting surveys in four Mandals to identify the educated youth who are unemployed. Some have certificates but do not have proper training. Some have graduation or B.Ed degrees but can neither speak their own mother tongue nor English. The swayamsevaks conduct classes of Maths, Physics, English, etc for them to improve the skills.
- Is there any planning to join Central Government’s Skill India Programme also?
Sewa Trusts run by the swayamsevaks are already working with some government agencies at some places. Some more may plan in future. But till now they are working mainly with the public support.
- You spoke about conducting English classes. But some people in our organisation seem to have reservation about English.
There is a misnomer. We say children should study up to 5th or 10th standard in their mother tongue. We are not against learning English. If it is necessary, learn it. In the Sangh, we love and respect every language, like we love and respect every way of worship. But loving other languages does not mean neglecting our own mother tongue and forgetting our culture.
(August 9, 2015, Page: 42-44)