Sunday, November 01, 2015

Commentary - Old Interview of RSS chief

RSS – not so much of an enigma. Is RSS a ‘cultural’ organization as it claims? Is it a ‘social’ organization as some believe? Is it a ‘religious’ congregation as some like to believe? Is it a pre-cursor of a political party as most of the non-BJP parties claim? RSS is truly a ‘Hindu’ organization. Hindu religion is a curious and shape-shifting mixture of abstract and concrete. It doesn’t have a single prophet or a single holy book. But some of its rituals and concepts can put rituals in all other ‘concrete’ religions to shame. 

Now that BJP has been in power, the focus on RSS has increased. Let it be Mohan Bhagwat’s ‘anti-reservation’ remarks or a tacit justification of the Dadri lynching, all the RSS related news is pre-analyzed, analyzed and re-analyzed. People are seemingly very uncomfortable with the overall atmosphere. Some have taken the route of returning awards, some others are being more vocal in media, many more are just fretting. 

RSS was founded in 1925. And right since its beginning, it has been very clear about its mode of operations – be vaguely concrete. Does RSS support caste-system? Yes and No. Yes, because its second chief, Golwalkar was very clear about what the RSS could, should and would do. No, because RSS puts a fantastic twist to it – work-based caste system, not birth-based caste system! Rational as it sounds, it is completely impractical. Would everyone be born ‘shudra’ and then become ‘vaishya’, ‘kshatriya’ or ‘brahmin’ based on the work that one does? Then obviously everyone will scamper to become ‘brahmin’ and the other three compartments will be pure vacuum. 

The present RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, has been in the news for a variety of reasons. When BJP was nowhere near power, he stirred the pot by talking about chemotherapy and obviously denied it later. But an interview that he gave some three years ago is very clear, entertaining and enlightening. One common complaint against media, especially print media, has been that oftentimes they unnecessarily treat personalities with super-cushioned kid gloves. This interview is a fine example of this. Bhagwat makes a grandiose claim, “A country's future does not depend on its leaders, political parties, government or establishments”. He follows it up by stating further “It depends on the quality and merit of the society and the extent to which it is organized”. So, quality, merit and organization of the society has nothing to do with leaders, political parties, government or establishments! This is a claim that should have been dissected then and there, and the newspaper was Indian Express, not ‘Organizer’ or ‘Panchajanya’.

RSS has a long tradition of preaching through ‘bauddhik varga’ (roughly translated as intelligent/intellectual classes). And the overall level of the ‘discourse’ there is the same as is reflected in this interview. ‘No Questions’ is the pre-requisite, the session and the take-away. In that sense, RSS beautifully complements the communists. 

One more article of interest is RSS chief’s annual Vijayadashami speech, which is supposed to be important, at least in the RSS circles. In this speech as well, the agenda is clear. Right from mentioning Ambedkar before RSS founder Hedgewar, and then immediately switching to ancient history (1000th year of coronation of Chola), Bhagwat has continued the RSS school of thought. So don’t be shocked when RSS starts ‘building up a prosperous, efficient and egalitarian Bharat’, albeit in its own way.

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