We visualise a strong, effective, self-reliant and progressive India – an India in whose reconstruction the common man has full participation, and in which he enjoys respect and has feeling of responsibility; in short the common man has come into his own.
– Balasaheb Deoras, Third Sarsanghachalak of RSS, in an exclusive interview after the Emergency , Organiser, May 28, 1977
This Vijayadashami the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has completed 90 years of its existence. An organisation, which sees itself to be in unison with the nation, that is people of Bharat, do not take this journey towards the centenary year as the great achievement. Still, the organisation, which has evolved from the phase travesty, travelled through phase of anathema and experiencing the phenomenon of societal acceptance is worth analysing. Unravelling secrets of success of this informally formal organisation, which has seen many foes turning friends, once experienced the magical touch of this extraordinary organisation of ordinary people.
In the initial phase of its existence, Dr Hedgewar and ‘his RSS’ had to face mockery from the society. ‘Are you going to attain freedom by playing with the school going kids’ was the typical question he had to face from the very society he wanted to organise. He did not countered them, nor did he develop any hard feelings for the disdainers. Instead he evolved the organisation with participatory and collective wisdom. Even after being reformist and revolutionary at the core, he decided to focus on organisation building on the sound edifice of individual character for national reconstruction. At the same time he himself participated in the Freedom Struggle and encouraged Swayamsevaks to do so. That is why in no time the RSS could make footprints all over Bharat.
By Independence, RSS was a formidable organisation. The institutionalisation of Pracharak system and contribution during the Partition and riots already made it popular, which was not palpable to many in political circles. The ‘state centric’ political approach we developed during the Freedom Struggle, forced many to consider the ‘nation centric’ organisation as a political enemy. Again instead of reacting to the repressive powers, RSS preferred to transmit its organisational energy in different walks of national life with the common goal – ‘Param Vaibavam Netum Etat Swarashtram’ (Let us take our nation to the pinnacle of glory). Despite repression, RSS widened its scope and influence, without hindering the core work of man-making through Shakhas.
By 1970s, RSS was in a position to reshape the national discourse through popular participation. From anti-Emergency movement to anti-corruption movement, there is not a single event which can be understood and analysed without taking RSS into cognisance. The expanding network of selfless service activities and taking a strong stand on issues of social discrimination became feasible. The energy that was generated over the period of time started giving light for social transformation.
Historically, RSS has not been the first organisation that came into existence to address the ailments of this nation. Radical thought, but evolutionary process, is the differentiating factor. The values cherished are eternal, while the techniques evolved are absolutely contemporary and innovative. Shakha, uniform, band, etc were new to the society but they are provided with Bharatiya touch to inculcate the sense of collective action. Perhaps this process of radical transformation through evolution for the objective of assimilation is natural to us as a nation.
If we analyse the cited quote of a person who became swayamsevak at the age of 12 and subsequently carried the responsibility of the Sarsaghachalak of RSS, we get the clear idea about the objective of this unique organisation. This edition is a humble tribute to this great nation that has ability to swallow poison and covert it into nectar. Sangh represents satya and Shiv of this nationhood. Hope, this edition will provide insight and inspiration to many to understand and experience this cause of social transformation through popular participation.