RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh / National Volunteer Organization) is an Indian right winged, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary organization and is wholly regarded as parent organization of ruling party of India, BJP. Founded in 27 Sep 1925, it is world’s largest voluntary missionary organization.
Mr. Keshav B Hegdewar was former member of Anushilan Samiti where he took training. He was participant of Home Rule Campaign in 1918. After reading Savarkar’s Hindutva and meeting Savarkar in Ratnagiri jail (1925) he was deeply influence and started RSS with the objective of strengthening Hindu society. He felt handful of Britishers are ruling us because Hindus are not united and therefore it is required to unite them and inspire them for parakrama (valour).
It adopted Saffron Flag of Shivaji. Started in Nagpur, then it span across Maharashtra and covered all India eventually through its pracharaks.
They had opposed tricolour National Flag initially. They wanted saffron flag (bhagwa dhwaj) to be adopted by India.
National flag was never hoisted on their buildings except only on 15 Aug 1947 and 26 Jan 1950. However, since 2002, RSS headquarters regularly hoist national flag.
RSS had objections to Constitution of India in early days of independence. However, party is not vocal about the issue in present times.
In Jan 1947 it was banned in Punjab province. But in 1948 after assassination of M K Gandhi by Nathuram Godse, former svayamsevak of RSS, it was banned all over India and its several senior members were arrested. However in 1970 Justice Kapoor Commission noted that RSS was not responsible for Gandhi’s death.
During emergency, RSS was banned once again. Since it had large base it was perceived to be close to opposition leaders. It requested govt. to lift ban, and on being denied participated secretly in movements against emergency. After lifting of emergency ban on RSS was also removed. Emergency is said to have legitimized RSS’s participation in politics since the stain it had acquired since Gandhi’s assassination.
Third time it was banned during 1992 after demolition of Babri Masjid.
It was active in decolonization of Dadra, Nagar Haveli and Goa.
During 1971 war they supported govt. by offering service to maintain law and order in Delhi and RSS volunteers were first to donate blood.
It took Jana Sangha party during emergency and had its member in govt. in 1977. Mr. L K Advani and Mr. A B Vajapeyi and Brij Lal Verma. In 1980 it turned into BJP.
It has volunteered in various natural disaster relief works. e.g. 2001 Gujrat earthquake, 2004 Tsunami, 1971 war, 1999 Kargil war, 2013 Uttarakhand floods etc.
It has been running 1,70,000 programs across the country to help poor people.
Vision and Mission
Hindu renaissance to build strong India and propound Hindu philosophy. Social reforms, economic upliftment of downtrodden, protection of cultural diversities, uniting Hindus…
Recently RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat remarked that ‘Hindu refers to everyone living in land of India and should not be narrowly interpreted as belonging to particular religion.’
RSS support reservation – Mohan Bhagwat
Rashtriya Mazdoor Sangh.
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. ABVP.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)
Politically it is criticized as right extremist party and its training resembles to that of army, but for ideological purpose. Accused of participant in communal riots especially 1992 Babri Masjid blast. However it continues to function with its 59,000 branches all over India and more than 50 lakh members.
Christophe Jaffrelot argues against comparing RSS with European fascist rules. He says “RSS’s ideology treats society as an organism with a secular spirit, which is implanted not so much in the race as in socio-cultural system and which will be regenerated over the course of time by patient work at grassroots….” He writes that ideology of RSS did not develop the theory of state and race, a crucial element in European nationalism. And that RSS leaders were interested in culture as opposed to racial sameness.
In his recent Article Christophe Jaffrelot also remarks that along with grassroot work, RSS is moving more towards statist style, which it refrained from in its early decades.
For academic perspective on right wing politics in India please visit https://politicsforindia.com/ideological-social-bases-of-parties/
Why this is important to read?
What is the relevance of this topic w.r.t. our syllabus?
Actually, there has been a direct question once on the topic. Hence we’ve added it.
Differentiate a political party from a pressure group. Explain the role of RSS and Bajrang Dal units of Sangh Parivar as a pressure-group in the Indian political system. [1999/60m/7]