Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is marching towards the centenary year. There has been a growing curiosity about what is plan of RSS for this special accomplishment. From political influence to participation of women, many issues are often raised to counter the Sangh. On participation of youth, role of technology, perspective on LGBT, economy and environment, people expect Sangh to speak and give a direction. RSS Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohan Bhagwat cadidly addressed all these issues and much more in an exclusive conversation with Hitesh Shankar, Editor, Panchjanya and Prafulla Ketkar, Editor, Organiser at the Nagpur headquarters. Excerpts:
This much anticipated dialogue that the Panchajanya and the Organiser routinely conduct—one that our readers and viewers eagerly await—suffered a two-year’ interruption because of Covid-19. However, during these intervening years, we have moved closer to the centenary of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. For any organisation, completing the hundred-year journey is a stiff challenge. One tends to deviate from the path or the journey ends. As the Sangh marched towards this major milestone, when did it face its biggest challenge? And what was it? We wish to know and understand.
Challenge is a too lofty word. Yes, it has been a journey through an uneven and difficult road. You have to face many unexpected turns on it. There were hurdles and roadblocks too. But we had a mission at hand, which we had to see through; this was all we focused on. Not losing our direction and our core essence, even as we went through all that ordeal—this was our greatest challenge.
As we were met with opposition—often quite loud—we had to face it calmly and prevail. However, we were sure that we must not become adversaries of our detractors. Because that would have resulted in more opposition; it we would have meant untiring firefighting. We could not afford to let that happen. Sometimes, circumstances force you to change the direction. However, on such occasions, instead of changing the course of our journey, we should simply explore new routes to the destination. We may take an unplanned turn, but never loose sight of our direction. Only then these new routes and turns will fetch desired rewards. Otherwise, a change of route could result in a change of direction. This realisation was our guiding beacon throughout our journey. We knew the road was laden with thorns; we had anticipated all these.
When I look at the present, those days of contempt and opposition are over. Today, we get boundless love and affection from society. Time is conducive for our thought too. In fact, the contemporary global scenario is also nudging humanity in that direction. Willy-nilly, people have started thinking like us, and this feeling will only get stronger with time. Because of this, our path has become somewhat easy. This, too, is a challenge.
The thorns we encountered earlier on the road have changed their character. In the past, we had to brave the thorns of opposition and contempt. Those we could avoid. And at times we have avoided them too. But the newfound acceptance has brought us resources, convenience and abundance. Our social esteem has soared. The society has reposed its faith in us; expectations are high. It feels that we will make a difference. Under these circumstances, our popularity and resources have become thorns which we must brave. For example, even though we do not want to go to media on many issues, we cannot avoid doing so any longer. This may be counterproductive. They might wonder why we are hiding in the shadows. We have to face the media. When we step out, press will write about us; print our photos too. But we must not crave for publicity. If today we have means and resources, they should be seen as no more than instruments essential for our work; we should control them, they should not control us. We should not be accustomed to them. Our old habits of facing hardships must never die. Times are favourable, but that should not lead to vanity.
A favourable climate brings along popularity—something we are very fond of. When a crowd comes to greet you at the railway station, it feels good. But we must stay watchful of the factors that lead to such feelings. At the same time, in order to understand the feelings we must remain watchful of, we will have to go through those very experiences. Our challenge is to have this realisation and stay alert all the time. We are working tirelessly.
Our mission is moving forth, as we are working for the real and truthful thought. Eventually, everyone comes around to embracing the truth. This reality is the foundation on which we shall shape our future, and the future of this country too. We are not worried about it. But we have to ensure that we do not deviate as we complete our journey and keep our swatva (essence) intact throughout the distance. So, from the point of view of these objectives, the present phase—when our circumstances are the most favourable—seems the most difficult. We must wade past this phase. This is our challenge.
There was a time when Sangh’s thought process and its style of working followed the logic of ‘organisation for organisation’s sake.’ Now, as you have been saying, Sangh needs to work for social transformation and humanity at large. What changes do you see in Sangh’s style of working and its thoughts?
There is no change; I see it as progression. When a bud grows into a flower, not all petals blossom together; some of the petals bloom early. Our organisation remains the same; our methods remain the same. We still organise for the sake of organisation. Otherwise we will get complacent and say that given the work we already doing, even if we do not conduct shakha, there will be people with us.
You see, we mobilise talent in our society at large. Many people join us by birth due to their family. And yet we continue to hold our shakha. This increases our workload. But the question remains: what purpose does organising society serve? Why do we want to remain healthy? We want health because then all our worked become healthy too. We retire, when we get old. Even if there is no work at hand, we wish to remain healthy. During our childhood, we are not burdened with the responsibility of supporting a family—there is little work to do—yet we wish to stay healthy. And of course while we are working, health is a priority. Organise for the sake of organisation—this principle is our polestar.
But for social service, we have swayamsevak to bring about social transformation, we have swayamsevak to change the system, we have swayamsevak for an entire spectrum of works. Sangh will only organise and do nothing else. Swayamsevak will not leave any field untouched. We have been saying this and today we can see manifestation of the same. This is progression. Back then also people used to say we organise only for the organisation’s sake. And we agreed because we have nothing to hide.
Let me now come to that question about the Sangh which piques everyone’s curiosity. There’s been a tendency to view Sangh from the political prism; the media is always eager to know Sangh’s view on political events. How do you seen Sangh’s relationship with politics?
For various reasons, in our society, political prism is a favourite perspective. So not only Sangh activities, everything else also is viewed from the political perspective. Generally, we remain unmindful to the good or bad happenings in other walks of social life. Everything is politics centric. However, right from its inception, Sangh has consciously kept itself away from day to day politics. The politics of votes, the politics of elections, the politics of humiliating one-another— Sangh has no relation with any of these.
But, there are other dimensions of politics that affect our national policies, national interest and Hindu interest. The Sangh has been always concerned about whether the overall political direction is conducive to these issues or not; right from the days of Doctor Ji (Dr K B Hedgewar, founder of RSS). If politics takes a wrong turn and because of that our social awakening is adversely impacted, we are concerned. We have always been vocal about national policy; and whatever strength we have, accordingly we try to mobilise it to drive it in the right direction. We do openly and without any hesitation. We have never been secretive about it. This is true of the present time as well. We are not concerned with day to day politics, but we are definitely linked to rasthra neeti—the national policy. We have our opinion about the same. Today, as we have gained adequate strength (through organisational network), we try to utilise it in the national interest and we will certainly do so.
The only difference is, earlier, our Swayamsevaks were not in positions of political power. This is the only addition in the present situation. But people forget that it is the Swayamsevaks who have reached certain political positions through a political party. Sangh continues to organise the society for the organisation’s sake. However, whatever Swayamsevaks do in politics, Sangh is held accountable for the same. Even if we are not implicated directly by others, there is certainly some accountability; as ultimately, it is in the Sangh where Swayamsevaks are trained. Therefore, we are forced to think – what should be our relationship, which things we should pursue (in the national interests) with due diligence.
For instance, there was a conference of traders to present the activities of Sangh. At the end, there was a Q&A session. They were fine with the Sangh’s work but had questions about Income Tax, GST and ease of doing business. They asked everything concerning the Government, trade and commerce. And every time, I kept telling that this is not our work. I repeatedly argued that the policy is one side of this; the other side is the mindset (of making and implementing the policies). But, they will naturally raise those questions. We have to go to the extent of reassuring them that will convey your issues to the concerned people.
The only point is about political developments, if people are expecting something, if they are facing any difficulty- that is conveyed to us then it can be brought to the notice of concerned people, if they are Swayamsevaks. Even when Swayamsevaks were not there in power positions, there were people who used to pay heed to the advice of others. There will be such people in the future too. We will keep approaching them with people’s concerns. Pranab Da was Finance Minister in the Congress government. He was also looking after Nepal affairs. We used to take our concerns to him. And he would listen to us too. That is all we do. Otherwise, we have no business in other spheres of active politics.
Over the past few years, Hindu society has become more vocal about Hindu faith, beliefs, values, ideals and even symbols. At times, it even appears to become aggressive. On the other hand, on many occasions, people on social media wonder whether the Sangh has abandoned its earlier aggressive stance. Whether it has softened? How do you see this change? Is it because of the transformation the Sangh has undergone or Sangh has strategically changed its role due to changes in the society at large?
You see, Hindu society has been at war for over 1,000 years – this fight has been going on against foreign aggressions, foreign influences and foreign conspiracies. Sangh has offered its support to this cause, so have others. There are many who have spoken about it. And it is because of all these that the Hindu society has awakened. It is but natural for those at war to be aggressive. As said (in Bhagwatgeeta), ‘yudhyasva vigata-jvarah’ – “Become free from desire and selfishness, and with your mental grief departed, fight!” It is not possible for everyone to follow this maxim. However, there are people who took on the task of social awakening through Sangh. This tradition of social awakening is quite old — it started on the day when Alexander, the first invader, arrived at our frontiers.
You may say that all those who undertook the task of social awakening—in the great tradition of Chanakya—have cautioned the Hindu society against yet another war. Unfortunately, we have not been thoroughly alerted to this impending reality. This war is not against an enemy without, but against an enemy within. So there is a war to defend Hindu society, Hindu Dharma and Hindu culture. Foreign invaders are no longer there, but foreign influences and foreign conspiracies have continued. Since this is a war, people are likely to get over zealous. Although this is not desirable, yet provocative statements will be uttered.
But at the same time, there are some internal issues concerning us. Shri Ram symbolises our pride. His temple must be built. There was a movement for it. Those in the movement exclaimed ‘Jai Shree Ram’. Such slogans obviously meant to energise. Shri Ram strung together all jati and sects. But even today, people in our country are getting whipped so much as mounting another’s wagon. Should this not change? Everyone, who has carried forward that tradition of awakening, has talked about this. Hindu society has hailed the sloganeering but not this message of self-purification. Hindu society has not fully awakened to this reality; it should happen. We keep talking about war, war, war (against someone) but what about us? If war is there, what is our status? In a war we have to think and understand the enemy. We also have to decide what to do and when.
If you see, after the Mughal aggression, the last experiment was that of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Since then, there has been continuation and imitation of his strategy. What was Shivaji Maharaj’s policy? He was aware of the enemy but also conscious about self. He knew when to fight and when to avoid it. After his coronation, Shivaji Maharaj extended a hand of friendship to the neighbouring Muslim dynasties. He went to Golkonda and established friendly relations with Qutub Shah with the condition that at least two of his Ministers should be Hindus and atrocities against Hindus should stop. Qutub Shah had to accept the same. It is different story that this was changed after the demise of Shivaji Maharaj, as the fundamentalists among the Qutubshahi killed the Hindu ministers. But, Shivaji Maharaj tried this, as he knew very well that noble things advocated from the position of strength can become acceptable.
The other thing is, if the Hindu society understands itself, it will also find solutions to the problems that assail it. Staunch Christians say they will convert the entire world to the Christian faith. Those who do not fall in line will either live at their mercy or perish. Staunch Muslims, followers of the Abrahamic ideology, believers, non-believers, communists, practitioners of black capitalism — all of them believe that others must accept their path as it is the only true path. And if you refuse to do so, you will have to choose between surviving on our mercy and death. We will destroy you. But what is the Hindu worldview? Does a Hindu ever say that everyone should endorse his faith? This is not how we think. We want to present an example for others to see. We want to have a dialogue with everyone. Those who wish to improve will follow our example. If they do not, we do not intend to harm them. But we must be watchful that they are not able to harm us. We have gained enough strength in these battles. They cannot harm us anymore. No one has the audacity to disturb our political independence. It is now certain that Hindus will stay in this country; they w ould not seek refuge elsewhere. Now, they are quite alert.
We must also capitalise on this opportunity to resolve our internal conflicts and offer solutions to others. Today, when we are in a position of strength, so we must do that. If not today, in the next fifty years will have to provide this. And to ensure that we are able to accomplish this in five decades, we will have to start right away. China’s present position of prominence was planned in 1948. They have been following that blueprint ever since. When we have acquired sufficient strength, we should be clear about priorities for the future. Staying perpetually into fighting mode will do us no good. In the national life, it does not happen this way. To think that those who fight can accomplish everything is also a mistake. Garibaldi led the war, but at once fighting stopped, he wanted others to lead. At the end when they had to choose a monarch, Garibaldi refused the mantle and said it should go to someone else. Of the three leaders who rose to prominence during Italy’s rise, it was Garibaldi who led on the battlefield. However, at the end, he distanced himself saying this is not my job. Likewise, we too should change our discourse and language according to the circumstance. The direction remains the same. Hindustan is a Hindu rashtra. This prosperous and powerful Hindu society—Hindu Rashtra – Bharat—will reach to the pinnacle of its glory and provide leadership to the world. If at all, there are shortcomings in achieving this goal, then how to overcome them? If needed, we will fight by choice. We should not change our strategy because others have challenged us. We fight a battle according to our own plan. This is how the Hindu society should think.
People say Sangh is a cultural organisation. You have argued that if one has to undertake a long journey, one must set one’s priorities right; and draw a roadmap. Since Sangh is seen as a cultural body it must respond to contemporary discourses such as technology, environment and gender. Where does the Sangh find itself vis-a-vis these issues?
So far, the West dominated the world. Therefore, they were leading in many things. They provided leadership, set discourses, invented solutions and told everyone to follow them. The entire world, including us, followed them. But what is the situation now? That leadership has failed us. And having conceded their failures and reflected on them, where have they come to? Say on the question of environment. The world is coming around to Indian thought, the Hindu view.
Similarly, look at the question of gender and women. Slogans of women’s emancipation, women’s empowerment etc. have been raised for long. Having progressed through five phases, women of the West are now returning to the questions of gender-interdependence and the need of family life. In other words, they are converging around Hindu viewpoint. Likewise, there has been a raging debate on the question of technology-free technology or technology with ethics, unrestricted technology or technology with human attitude. Just imagining technology is not everything. All these technological innovations keep coming, the world keeps moving ahead. The questions of gender and environment, by contrast, are Sanatan (eternal). But only those who understands life in totality can answer these questions. Bharat understands life in its totality. It also accommodates those fragments engendered by Western thoughts which picture individual as separate from family. Bharat knows that the West sees the things with a fragmented approach, and it also knows how to unite them.
Today, the general discourse is changing and inching closer to Indian views. We have been championing Indian discourse long before its global acceptance. Inspired by Tagore, Gandhi ji, Vivekanand, Dayanand Saraswati—we marched ahead taking along their thoughts. There are many strands on similar lines in the modern Western thought also. We should study them too. Sangh does not say anything different. As far as technology is concerned, it must serve mankind. For example, now we have artificial intelligence. But people are wary that if it becomes unrestricted, a day will come when machines will rule over us. Sangh does not have a different opinion on this issue. Hindu (thought) traditions have already reflected on these questions.
Every now and then, a minor question crops up, which is blown out of proportion by the media, because the so-called neo-left finds it pioneering. Like LGBT/ Transgender issue. But these are not new issues; they have always been there. These people also have a right to live. Without much hullabaloo, we have found a way, with a humane approach, to provide them social acceptance, bearing in mind they are also human beings having inalienable right to live. We have a transgender community; we did not see it as a problem. They have a sect and their own deities. Today, they have their own Mahamandaleshwar too. During Kumbh, they are accorded a special place. They are part of our everyday life. When a child is born, they come to sing at our homes. Even though they have a separate community space, they are also a part of the mainstream. We have never waxed eloquent about this arrangement; we have never turned it into a subject of global debate.
The problem of LGBT is a similar one. Jarasandh had two generals—Hans and Dimbhaka. When Krishna fanned the rumour that Dimbhaka has died, Hans committed suicide. That is how Krishna got rid of those two generals. Come to think of it: what does the story suggest? This is the same thing. The two generals were in that sort of a relationship. It’ is not that these people have never existed in our country. People with such proclivities have always been there; for as long as humans have existed. Since I am a doctor of animals, I know that such traits are found in animals too. This is biological, a mode of life. We want them to have their own private space and to feel that they, too, are a part of the society. This is such a simple issue. We will have to promote this view because all other ways of resolving it will be futile. Therefore, on such matters, the Sangh relies on the wisdom of our traditions.
Today’s youth is repeatedly confused by these issues, especially those in the age group of 18 to 24. They wish to understand Bharat’s and Hindutva’s perspective on these matters. At the same time, because of the prevalent discourse around these issues, they get baffled. Sangh has a style of working, a set of fundamental thought. In order to connect the youth with Sangh’s style of working, are you trying to develop a new approach to these questions—the ones that bother the young generation?
There are many experiments to connect, attract and induct. We do not plan these activities centrally, because they are best done locally. Whether such confusions are there in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai. local units will have to address these issues. May be in a college of Chandrapur (in the interior parts of Vidarbha in Maharashtra), that would not be required. Whether the student is from jila parishad school or from an English medium school, it has to be factored in. Therefore, we give complete freedom to the local units to devise strategies and experiments as per the local needs. For example, during the recently concluded event in Nagpur to mark seventy-five years of Independence, we conducted many discussions with small groups of society. The event started with a nrityanatika—a dance drama—followed by a number of youth-centric activities and finally, a baudhik (intellectual discourse). While Sangh’s old-timers may question the very first part of the programme, we must understand this is how youth-outreach experiments are conducted these days. So we do what is necessary without diluting our core concerns. As a result, bright young men are joining Sangh. Every year, close to two lakh youth connect with Sangh through the join RSS initiative (online requests received through the RSS website). This is a huge number comprising educated, English-speaking youth. They are the once who face all these questions. Almost the same numbers go through various training programmes of the Sangh. It means despite various perceptions, youth are attracted towards the Sangh work.
There is another important question that crops up repeatedly—on the relationship between Sangh and women. Based on the reference to Santosh Yadav in the recent Vijayadashami address, I would say that Rashtriya Sevika Samiti is an important platform for women. How do you see the role of women in Sangh activities? Is it increasing now?
Of course, the role is increasing. Earlier, we did not have parivar sammelans. It’s not that we were against the idea, but the circumstances were different. Today, we conduct Kutumb Prabhodhan, which is a separate activity. We keep telling members of our karyakarini (executive) members) that they must go together for family outing—at least once every year. When we insist on karyakarta and their families – this include women members. We already have gat padhhati (a group of swayamsevaks led by a person) in Sangh where Swayamsevaks have connected till the kitchen of their group members. This was a medium to take Sangh to home; to those members who do not directly attend the shakha.
Intellectual discourses are also organised for the Swayamsevaks and their families. While all this is true, our routine programme of character-building goes on, as per the arrangement with the Samiti (the women’s organisation). The Samiti works among women, Sangh works among men. Whenever they feel that this arrangement should change, we will definitely do it. But now, especially after Covid-19, when for nearly two years shakhas were conducted at home, women are likely to be more active. They are demanding greater roles. Several women are making use of their learnings from shakha to start their own programmes. They are participating in Sangh activities and inviting many others to it. For example, today, I went to a home for lunch. The lady of the house must have seen the shakha during the COVID-19 period when it was conducted from home. Taking inspiration from the same, she completed her Yoga training and joined a few formal courses too. Now she runs an online programme and people from all across the world join her. So now she has an activity to take care of. Just as the Swayamsevaks contribute, the swayamsevikas contribute too. There has been an increase in the number of such inspired women who are joining us.
Now we have started telling our karyakartas that before taking any firm steps in his direction, if such women come to us, we should not tell them to go to the Samiti. Because as of today, the Samiti does not have that much of strength, (in terms of Shakhas and Swayamsevaika). They will also expect to involve these women in some activities till the time they become more independent ; to make local arrangements to engage these enthusiastic women. Because they’re inspired; because they wish to know the Sangh whose Swayamsevaks are known to do much good work; because they too want to do something constructive. For them, Sangh champions noble values which they wish to impart to their children, they want to understand us first hand. We will have to find a way to accommodate them. We must think about it. During the days of Dr Sahab, the situation was not conducive enough to think about it, but today we can think about it. However, there are women, workers of Samiti, who are already working among women and in consultaion with them, we will work out something.
Do we see these changes because of the new dimension of Parivar Prabhodhan (Enlightening of Family) activity?
No. Parivar Prabhodhan is an activity that has been going on for long Ideas related to Sangh are not broached there. Family traditions, national traditions, traditions of one’s clan, one’s ancestors, and responsibilities towards home, towards family, towards society, how to make a healthy and happy family life — these, are some of the issues that are taken up. Even though swayamsevaks are present in these meetings, it is not a platform to further Sangh’s objectives. It is doing well and developing independently.
As for the participation of women, it has gone up because of Covid-19. Besides, it is also an impact of growing credibility of the Sangh in the society. In many of our programmes, particularly those with businesspersons, women were invited and they do participate on our invitation. Thereafter, they get associated with us; they join projects our Swayamsevaks are carrying out. There are some places where school and college going girls also attend Shakhas. Today, we do not tell them ‘this is not for you.’ We encourage them to form their own separate group and simply observe a minimal distance during prarthna. Or recite the Samiti prarthna. We are doing such things. But, how to formalise this, we still have to think. We certainly have to and we will do it soon.
In the context of large-scale social changes, you spoke of biotechnology and artificial intelligence. The progress of information technology, too, is impacting our society and its systems in a major way. If we look at the Western context, the a lot of things appear poised for a change. In the days to come, the question of data consumption will become a key issue. Is there a debate in the Sangh regarding these future challenges? About the impact of all this on the society, as to some extent the question is also linked to economy and employment opportunities?
And if I may add, a segment of the society has indeed prospered because of technology. But there are those who have been isolated. They feel that they cannot match the speed of technology. Even though they can read and write, from the point of view of technology, they appear illiterate. Their utility is fast depleting. Technology has become a new divisive line in the society. How do you look at this problem?
Technology is a useful element for life and its judicious use can be greatly beneficial. But it is not sufficient in itself. The way technology is flourishing today, it is creating segregated pockets within the society—distancing society from things that matter, isolating individuals. What is the impact of this process? Well, he feels sad and tries to rebound. But once he rebounds, he has no fail-safe to fall back on. What happens thereafter? In our country, we have traditional fail-safe mechanism. Even if he is broken, separated and distant, he has a family; whenever he comes back, he will have a place to rest. It is a new fad and people may get attracted to it, especially those who are disconnected from the roots and do not think very deep or long-term. As our great tradition of philosophical profundity has weakened, such a person will blindly follow the Western trends. We may get trapped into the vicious cycle of shooting incidents as is often reported in the Western countries. But if it becomes excessive, we will get rid of this. This is for sure. We will try to find an alternative and we will get one. We have to give that option to the world also. Technology is a source of convenience. We cannot let it be our master. We will have to change our concepts of happiness, if they’re based solely on technology. As you mentioned, there are people who feel left out because of technology. Those who cannot use computer are described as ‘computer illiterates’; they are looked down upon by others.
Once, a Sangh office bearer was returning from a meeting. He was flanked by an Odia gentleman on one side, and a young boy on another. Both these individuals had meals included with their tickets. But just as the Sangh official was thought of buying peanuts or some snack, one of his co-passengers offered him his drink and urged him to have it. He told our Karyakarta that he lives in Dubai and spends three months at a stretch working in sea. Thereafter, he rests for a month, regains his health and returns to work. He earns Rs eighty thousand a month, survives on Rs ten thousand, and thrice a year, and sends Rs two lakh ten thousand to his home— a total of six lakh, thirty thousand per year. During the conversation that followed, he is noting, not even literate.
But our official countered his despondency saying that Bhagwan’s has given him plenty; by calling himself a loser, he is abusing Bhagwan’s grace. ‘Here in Bharat you have a loving family that nourishes you back to health. Your earnings are much higher than what labourers get here. But most importantly, your humanity is alive; you gave away your drink to a stranger.’ It was then that he realised how precious his assets were; he promised that he will not pity himself again. You see, to bring about such a change in mentality, one does not need technology, literacy or erudition. All these things are of doing. As the saying goes, what good is a tall date tree, if it cannot shade a wearied traveller; its fruits are unreachable. We have forgotten how to differentiate between meaning of life and success in life. This has been already a part of our culture. The day we become mindful of this fact, we will find answer to all these questions — not just for ourselves, but for the rest of the world too. And we will have to do this at all cost, since this road takes us to nowhere but in the dark bottomless well.
The period of COVID-19 has affected not just individuals and families but the entire global scenario. People started talking about a new world order. In the days to come, given all the upheavals and changes, where do you see Bharat? What role will Bharat have in this new world? What role will Sangh have in that Bharat?
True Bharat has emerged in this entire upheaval. Perhaps, if it was not for the pandemic, we would not have emerged as a bright spot. We are what we are, and we are advancing in the right direction. It is not that we were not the same earlier, but the world could not see us clearly. Its vision was clouded, which got cleared after the COVID-19 crisis. People saw that Bharat has solutions. This led to an entirely new way of looking at us. India quickly made vaccine, and instead of stockpiling it, distributed it among other countries. There have been such occasions in the past, too, when Bharat helped other countries without bothering about cost benefit of it. For example, India helped Sri Lanka, and today it is helping Ukraine.
This is the true essence of Bharat, which now people see and recognise. Bharat’s presence in the global order is reassuring. That is why people the world over are appreciating us; Russia appreciates us, so does America. These nations with larger economies, larger armies—basically those who do not need to adulate us—they, too, are lavishing praise on Bharat. It is all for a simple reason: they see great qualities in India and realise that India is destined to rise.
But what is this quality? Quality stands for India’s roots, not the magic of modern science. It’s not just a question of how enterprising our business leaders are; they have always been experts at their profession. But it is the question for authenticity that appeals to others, especially the younger generation. Why is Sangh able to connect with the youth? The answer is, we have honesty and the young generation gets drawn to those who sincerely appeal for patriotism and service. When a country like Bharat tries to help others, people see authenticity and sincerity in its endeavours. Bharat’s actions are not driven by selfishness. We have intelligence; we have strength. People of Bharat are not second to anyone. Bharat is awakening with this realisation and there is a desire to be victorious.
And this works to the advantage of the world too. The world wants Bharat to pave the new road, Bharat only we can do so. But to take Bharat on this road to progress, every Indian must understand Svatva (selfhood) of our country, and to have an urge to live and die for the same. Sangh’s role is to create this environment and to raise a group of dedicated workers who will create this kind of environment. This will lead to change—a permanent change—which in turn will take care of all the remaining issues. Sangh’s role strengthens Bharat’s role and Bharat’s role in turn strengthened the world.
During this period, you too repeatedly referred to the phrase ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat.’ However from the pharmaceutical sector to small industries what challenges do you see in the global supply chain? Lots of people have lost their livelihood and smaller industries are struggling to rebound. Moreover, after the Ukraine war, there are problems related to economy, currency exchange and bank rates. Under the circumstances, how realistic is the vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat?’
The idea of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ can very well be materialised. One’s development takes place according to one’s svatva—on the basis of one’s soul. You cannot put hybrid colours into it. You may train an elephant to play football, but it will not be considered as progress. People may even buy tickets to watch the spectacle, but still, it is not elephant’s development. The progress of a lion does not lie in eating peacefully alongside a goat; this will turn the lion into a farce. A lion can only progress in the jungle. Therefore, when we speak of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat,’ we must reflect on these aspects too.
To be Aatmanirbhar does not simply imply that India can manufacture everything, do everything. So far, the global economic trends have followed the corporate logic; everything is centralised. Bharat’s economic logic suggests that if we have decentralised production, we will produce in abundance. It further stipulates that to sell the production, do not promote consumerism. If there is a restrained consumption, the prices will go down. Because commerce is the very basis of life in the Western countries, they are votaries of price rise; for which consumerism is necessary, which again is based on individualism. In this vicious cycle all these things follow each other.
This philosophy of consumerism leads to problems that may cause great devastation. Therefore, being Aatmanirbhar does not mean winning this global race. To be Atmanirbhar implies offering a new paradigm of trade and progress that assures material comforts, security, guarantees future life and also ensures a feeling of peace and contentment. We will have to construct a new edifice, new systems that are in harmony with our Atma. We need to think about ourselves by completely decolonising our minds. Then, we can determine what all aspects of scientific progress we must include in our vision. If due to ignorance we were following certain wrong practices, we should get rid of them. We will have to build a new way, taking in our stride whatever is the best in the world. However, the new road will be built on the foundation of our own values. Our vision has been, sarve bhawantu sukhinah or may all be happy and content and not of survival of the fittest or ‘greatest good for the greatest number.’ Happiness of all! If we thrive, so must the universe; this is what we profess. Therefore, after 2000 years of experimentation, the world is seeking a model, a path that will harmonise all things. We can find that path only through realising our own Armta, the selfhood. Being Aatmanirbhar implies relying on one’s Atma. It is not about being victorious in the global competition.
There is another problem our society is confronted with. The Sangh has raised it, underscored it. This is the question of population policy and population imbalance—by all means, a complex question. How would we develop a consensus on the issue, given that attempts are being made to link it with the question of Hindus and Muslims?
First of all, Hindus must understand this. Hindus are in majority. For them, there is a sense of belongingness about the country. Upliftment of Hindus will ensure well-being of all in the country. Therefore, Hindus should realise this first.
Population is an asset, but it can be a heavy burden too. As I had mentioned in that speech, it is essential that we frame a thoughtful, long-term population policy. And the same should be equally implemented by everyone. But this cannot be done forcefully; people must be educated.
Population imbalance is a practical problem. Wherever imbalance has taken place our country has got divided. This has been the global trend and this has happened because of the aggressive nature of people and civilisations. Only the Hindu society stands apart, showing no aggression whatsoever. In the interest of pacifism, non-violence, democracy, secularism etc., preservation of those who are not aggressive is essential. We have seen the catastrophic results in Timor, Sudan, Pakistan. On this issue, we must put an end to politicking and appeasement. In a completely non-partisan manner—without any bias either for the Hindus or any other community—we need to ask objectively what led to the creation of Pakistan?
From the earliest point in recorded history, Bharat has been akhand, undivided. Islam’s devastating invasion ended after centuries. How come the country got suddenly divided later? I see only one reason -हिंदू भाव को जब-जब भूले आई विपद महान , भाई टूटे … धरती खोई … मिटे धर्म संस्थान (whenever we have forgotten the core Hindu sense, we have faced with great calamity, brothers got separated, land is lost and religious institutions were ruined).
I am not trying to speak against anyone, but the truth is Bharat had never witnessed a massacre of this scale. If we think of the Kalinga war, it was a localised affair and ceased soon afterwards. We had to face all this because we had forgotten all about Hindu bhaav (the essence of being Hindu). When we speak of Hindu bhaav, it does not create any obstacle in Islamic way of worship.
Hindu is our identity, our nationality, our civilisational trait—a trait that considers everyone as ours; that takes everyone along. We never say, mine is only true and your’s is false. You are right at your place, I am right at mine; why to fight, let us move together – this is Hindutva. As long as adherent of this value stay in majority, Bharat remains united. This united Bharat, in turn, provides unity and strength to the entire world. It is not just about Bharat but concerning the welfare of humanity at large. Imagine for a moment the consequences if the Hindu society was to disappear. Other races will start a war for supremacy. This is inevitable. Then what is the guarantee (to save us from this volatile possibility), it is the presence of Hindus.
The simple truth is this—Hindusthan should remain Hindusthan. There is no harm to the Muslims living today in Bharat. If they wish to stick to their faith, they can. If they want to return to the faith of their ancestors, they may. It is entirely their choice. There is no such stubbornness among Hindus. Islam has nothing to fear. But the same time, Muslims must abandon their boisterous rhetoric of supremacy. We are of an exalted race; we once ruled over this land, and shall rule it again; only our path is right, rest everyone is wrong; we are different, therefore we will continue to be so; we cannot live together—they must abandon this narrative. In fact, all those who live here—whether a Hindu or a communist—must give up this logic.
Hence, population imbalance is an important question and we will have to think about it. Even as I am saying this, I am aware that there will be voices of disagreements and accusations. But when the same people occupy administrative positions, they too will do exactly the same thing. If you look the Governmental activities of independent Bharat, right from the early day till now, all those in power, regardless of their faith, worry about this. Those in power and those who want the best for Bharat take up this problem and do whatever is necessary in the matter. So we are clearly reiterating what is well known to all.
We do not want to oppose anyone. And it is not only about the question of birthrate. Conversions and illegal immigrations are the main reasons behind the imbalance. Preventing this restores balance, we have seen this too. Therefore, the population policy should ensure this balance. There may be minor imbalance due to birthrate or other issues, that also will have to be factored in.
At this juncture, the question of human rights of the Hindus is also getting attention. Hindu society, the world over, has become assertive. In places like America, Hindu temples and trusts are proposing resolutions of Hindu issues. On the one hand, it is alleged in academic conferences on Hindutva that because of the Sangh, Hindu society at large has become aggresive. On the other hand, we have the example of Birmingham and Leicester where Hindus are being targeted in the name of Sangh. Is the Sangh trying to do something to counter this perception? Is there any thinking about human rights of the Hindus and Hinduphobia, at the global level?
There are many who are speaking up for the Hindus. We do not plan to start a forum of our own to take up these issues. Our plan is to give strength to the existing ones. Since the Hindu society is awakening, we will have to go through this phase of firefighting as well. Only those whose selfish interests are imperiled by our ascendancy are raising a commotion and attacking at the same time. But now Hindus are awakening and will counter it appropriately. However, it is certain that whichever road the Hindus opt for, it will be of taking everyone along. As far as countering aggression on the Hindu society is concerned—all those who counter this will have complete backing of the global Hindu society. The Sangh will see to it that such a situation continues and grow over the period of time.
As far as perception goes, we will have to do something about it. This perception issue is within Bharat also, not just at the global level. We are already working on this. We have increased our media interactions, started few outreach initiatives; now the issue is of extending these. To ensure that in due course of time they deliver the desired results, we will have to act at the right time, with the right strategy. That we will do this is certain; it is just a matter of time.
In 2025, Sangh will complete its hundred years. The whole world will follow this development with keen curiosity. We wish to know whether Sangh has planned something special for it, in terms of activities? Also, will there be a new pledge or a new dimension added to it?
You see, there have been different phases of Sangh’s work. This is only the natural progression, which the world perceives as special. Till 1940, when Doctor Sahab was around, after much experimentation, we could finalise the technique and methods for organising the Hindu society. Then Doctor Sahab left. Following that methodology, Sangh’s projects quickly reached different parts of Bharat; first till the district level, and then beyond it. All this happened during Shri Guruji’s period. The Swayamsevaks trained during the period started working in diverse fields. They were guided by the maxim—Sangh will not do anything, Swayamsevak will not spare anything. During Balasaheb’s time, this approach gathered much speed and force. Sangh became much more society-oriented and started shouldering social responsibilities. As a result we see some progress in the political sphere. This we have witnessed during the term of Rajju Bhaiya and Sudarshan ji.
Today Sangh and the society share a virtuous, strong and emotional bond. The natural order of things suggests Sangh has to be all pervasive. To make this happen, Sangh will work for the kind of tranformation and coordination the Hindu society must have. Both our Swayamsevaks and righteous members of the society should do this. They must work together and take our nation to the pinnacle of glory. So, by the time we complete hundred years, we should have the necessary infrastructure of shakhas and Swayamsevaks, make arrangements for their deployment. And we should have the capacity to organise more swayamsevaks to fulfill the needs of these works. So that, after completing the hundred years, Swayamsevaks are in a position to carry on the work of constructing a structure on this foundation. Sangh will continue the work of character-building. By the time we reach hundred, we will have to take Sangh everywhere and forge links with all the segments of the society, so that people have better examples to follow; so that they do not give over importance to Bollywood, media and politics. Realising their duties, society should stand with the noble forces. The noble power should work in a harmonious complementary relationship in the the national interest. And whatever strength, expanse and workforce is needed for it, we will have to organise it by 2025. And based on how much of this we manage to accomplish, we will move ahead.