On contemporary issues, RSS views and the like, an interview of Sri Pradeep, RSS Pracharak to a news portal – Samachara.com was conducted in Kannada recently. Read the version below in English.
(Sri Pradeep holds the responsibility of Karnataka Dakshina Sah Prachar Pramukh in the RSS.)
Q: After the 2014 General elections and Narendra Modi assuming office, the reports seem that the RSS has grown considerably. Is it true?
Pradeep: The RSS, since its inception has grown steadily and consistently in both hostile and conducive conditions that prevailed in Bharath over the last several decades. The increase in number of Shakhas, wide acceptance of the Sangh ideology has not happened due to change in political leadership alone. The growth of RSS in all these 91 years can only be attributed to the committed Karyakartas who travel places and expand Sangh activities and do it consistently. RSS has always maintained that it is a “cadre based organization” due to which the growth, stability and expansion has been made possible.
Not to take you very far behind on the timeline of RSS, it is worth mentioning about the growth of Sangh in the past decade. The decade following the centenary celebrations of the second chief of RSS Guruji Golwalkar in 2006. The statistics subsequent to that year reveals that the RSS is clocking an increase in the number of shakhas between 10% – 20% every year. This trend has been maintained post 2014 elections also. Yes, the favorable conditions of present times is a fillip to the Sangh ecosystem.
Q: Do you have some recent statistics to share?
We collect and collate statistics in the country twice a year. The statistics collected in the month of March 2017 say, we have 57,233 Shakhas which is a daily gathering. There are weekly Milans totalling 14,896, monthly Milans stand at 8,226. When we look at the statistics of South Karnataka, there are 1943 Shakhas, 468 weekly and 63 monthly Milans. We have more than 100 full time RSS workers(Pracharaks) who are working on the shakha expansions and related activities in South Karnataka alone.
A little over a decade since, we have started weekly Milans for the IT employees. Bengaluru itself has 130 such Milans with each having an attendance of 10-15 members who participate every week. We have reached close to 4000 IT engineers through such Milans. We have Seva activities run by more than 30 organizations. These Seva activities are coordinated at the organizational levels, several independent projects and couple of them are run in collaboration with the likeminded institutions. Sangh also has its own outreach programs through which we connect to the people interested in RSS and its popular seva activities. This is done through a feature on our website called JOIN RSS.
Q: This shows the strength of the organization. With so many Shakhas, Milans, Seva activities and many dimensions of work, why is it being done? What is the impact of all these on the society we are living in?
The question is pertinent. Our end goal of all such programs is ‘man making’ and social transformation which is reason the organization was founded along with building a strong, self-reliant nation. Precursor being the organized society. We are not aping any external model. We wish to build a nation where the people have high esteem for Bharath, the country with secured borders, safe, happy and prosperous lives, ensuring better future for the posterity.
While Sangh focuses on man making to a large extent, it also engages a chunk of manpower and devotes considerable organizational time for social transformation through Seva activities. Swayamsevaks who are trained in Sangh have also been active in various spheres of public life. Though the impact cannot be studied in a reductionist way alone, the cumulative effect of all the efforts of Sangh and its affiliated organizations can be both qualified and quantified.
Qualified metrics can be understood through the standards which Sangh has set in public discourse, social activism, commitment to the cause, hatred towards none, all inclusive approach, not deviating from the promises made on national issues, transparency in functioning, unchanged goalposts yet keeping the system flexible open to changes and corrections. Such high standards were set by the founding fathers of RSS and it has been carried forward and sustained by the successive generations.
The RSS has always kept it`s quantitative assessment open to the society. Sangh will come up with the statistics every year. The numerical growth of Sangh inspired organizations is also put on public domain from time to time. As I said earlier the organizational growth has been steady and consistent. Wings of ideology has also been spread across continents making RSS the largest volunteer organization globally. This is the macro view of quantitative growth of RSS in a nutshell. The RSS inspired organizations have all occupied high positions in their respective spheres.
Q: It is interesting to note that you speak about building a self-reliant country. But FDI is Narendra Modi’s pet initiative and is supporting it for the economy of the country?
Self-reliant country does not mean being isolated or living in seclusion from the world. It means to co-exist with other countries, depend on our own resources and meet the demands on our own. In the globalized scenario ExIm policy becomes important for any country. In a new world order where the countries are interdependent for economics, science and technology, security and other aspects, it becomes inevitable that country has to have a give and take policy. But what is nonnegotiable is the economic security and sovereignty. India has a history of trading with many countries. The question ought to be asked is whether we have control in our trade practices when we get into global trade.
There is a strong reason in today’s world for FDI. We also know our limits and have drawn a line to clearly understand the limits. No strong country has ever negotiated it`s self-interests just to please the mighty and stay afloat in the global equations. Domestic laws, national requirements, will and the capacity to produce, wisdom to save, standing firm in internal economics and being pragmatic in international trade should form the core of economic policies of the government of the day. The benchmark of development is changing and therefore the need to change also is strong.
Q: On economic issues your claim is that we have to change according to time. When it comes to cultural and dharmic topics, RSS seems to be strong and not to budge. At least the society feels so. For instance the lynching in the name of Gau-Raksha. How do you react to that?
Firstly I take it as a compliment when you say that RSS stands strong related to the issues of Dharma and Sanskrithi (culture). The term lynching sounds a bit harsh on those who are genuine protectors of Cow. It is a vigilant society which is not only active but proactive. Now, criticizing or coming hard on the acts of genuine vigilance will eventually put the society on backfoot. The very concept of vigilant social activism will be compromised which in reality is the essence being free. The eternal vigility.
We have often come across the news of anti social acts like theft, chain snatching or pick pocketing and also of the news that the public caught the offenders, thrashed them and eventually handed them over to the police. While such acts of vigilance is appreciated why do the incidents where the people stand up to protect cows, which is the symbol of faith and reverence for Hindus is being termed as lynching? Is it wrong on the part of Hindus to stand up to their beliefs? It does not mean that the law should be violated.
Protecting the symbols of faith and reverence is not new to Hindu society. These symbols form the core of social identity and social self. In a way protection of cow is the protection of life support system of social self.
Q: How do you say such incidents happen for self-protection? Please elaborate. Are you by any chance supporting the criminal activities in the name of Gau Raksha?
No. RSS does not support any sorts of violence or the criminal activities. Any individual involved in unlawful activities and the act of crime should be dealt with stern hands. This applies to both the parties. Those involved in criminal acts of cow protection and the ones who do the cow trafficking illegally. But only the acts of cow protection has drawn criticisms, is only one side of the story. Such serious and sensitive issues should be fair and balanced.
Let us ask ourselves why such untoward incidents happen? Why is it that such acts have largely occurred only during the nights? If the claim is that the cow protection is being done, it simply implies that cows are being trafficked illegally. Naturally the people (Gau Rakshaks) become proactive and try to save the illegally trafficked cows. We get into the mode of debating the reaction side of the issue. But we forget to debate the root cause for the same. So, it clearly means that the genuine act of vigilance is for protection of larger social self and not for mere failure to abide by ideology. Self here means the individual, the society, support systems of social life, belief system and symbols of faith and reverence – All put together is the self.
Q:The BJP is considered as the political face of RSS. Today Modi has become a big face in the BJP. The party had not had such a dominant face in the past. what does RSS feel about Modi’s growth as a big leader?
Well, the consideration that BJP is the political face of RSS is not true in its entirety. The two organizations work completely independent of each other, with independent organizational structure and constitutions. The mode of functioning is also entirely different from each other. But BJP has in its organization, many Swayamsevaks and Pracharaks who are from RSS. BJP is an integral part of the ideological eco system would be an appropriate explanation. The Swayamsevaks in BJP will carry the concerns and ideas of the eco system to which they belong to. For the faces, you will find face of RSS in RSS and the face of BJP in BJP. Not to mix up the two.
Secondly, it is not right to say that a person can outgrow the organization. Those who understand the science and structure of organizations will not resort to such rhetoric. On any given day organization is bigger than the individual. As it is answered already the organizational structure of Sangh and its eco system is essentially cadre based. Karyakartas are the foundations of the organization. But in a public domain, the organization needs a leader to represent it. The individual who represents the system becomes more visible publicly and becomes the FACE of organization not the SIZE of the organization. At this moment Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are the faces of the political organization. Naturally it keeps changing. Leaders of such stature are born time to time.
Q: It is said that the roots of the tiff between B S Yedyurappa and K S Eshwarappa is in the RSS. What do you have to say about it?
Not at all. It is the BJP that has to answer about this issue. RSS is not a party to it or an authority to comment on it. BJP has its own constitution and a way of functioning with a well structured organizational set up. It has its President, the secretaries and others who run the organization. We (RSS) respect their organization and their freedom of functioning. RSS never interferes in the affairs of BJP, but we are aware of the political developments. Unless invited by the party leadership to participate and engage in a discussion, we, on our own will never summon them nor instruct them to follow the dictum of RSS. Ours is the suggestive role, only on the request of BJP.
Q: After the recent communal attack in Mangaluru, CM Siddaramaiah has termed RSS and few other organizations as ‘goons.’ You have not responded to it at all.
The state has seen the functioning of the government for the last four years led by CM Siddaramaiah. People of the state clearly know his bias as to who he supports and who he is against. Appeasement of Muslims seems to be at an all-time high and it has reached a point of no return. Failure to maintain law and order, human and drug trafficking on an alarming rise, failure to protect the interests of farmers, mishandling of institutions of law and security, crumbling financial system etc. have all exposed the spectacle of failures of this government.
However, to cover up his failures as a responsible Chief Minister he is resorting to mudslinging by taking names of the organizations and individuals. This has only exposed the insecurities, vulnerabilities, and prejudices of a democratically elected leader. For a potential state like Karnataka this is a pathetic level of public administration displayed by the present government.
Q: Lastly the perception is that RSS has changed its stance. Why are we not hearing once used words Akhanda Hindu Rashtra, or even Hindu Rashtra these days?
The RSS has not changed it`s stance. But you can notice the change in articulation according to changing times. One can only label it as flexibility. Flexibility in Modus Operandi not in the mission, values and the goal. Sangh feels that, for all the positive nationalistic forces to come together and work together for a common cause the deterrents should be avoided. They may be in the form of articulation, the choice of words, style of functioning etc. This approach has brought together the individuals, institutions and organizations who share common concerns. Sangh is not only open to include all in it`s nation building mission but is also ready to be included and be a part of anything that is in the larger interest of the nation.
Those who are joining hands for the common cause also need not compromise their ideas, their style of functioning nor the position they have already subscribed to in the public life. This is the next level of social activism that is at display.
With all the differing and disagreements in ideas, we can all come together, work together and achieve together.