Malik Nasir Mahmood Aslam looks at the RSS and its growing influence
The RSS and its growing influence is a Hindu fundamentalist organization in India working for the promotion of Hindutva which stands for hegemonic Hinduism and this connotation is verified by the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics and International Relations stating that Hindutva ‘has fascist undertones’. That is precisely what liberal analysts in India have repeatedly accused RSS of. The Nazi salutations and Nazi symbolism have been an integral part of the RSS structure. Interesting comparisons can be drawn between India’s Hindu man of ideas Savarkar’s 1923 pamphlet ‘Hindutva: Who is Hindu?’ and Goebbels’s 1926 German publication ‘Der Nazi Sozi.’
Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a Hindu ideologue, established RSS in 1925 with the aim to set up the organisation to strengthen the Hindu identity, especially vis-a-vis the Muslims and Christians of the Subcontinent. Thus, the prime objective to establish a Hindu nation (rashtra), has been foremost in the minds of the RSS leadership. Out of antipathy for Islam, Hedgewar sometimes described the people of the Muslim faith, as the hissing Yavana snakes. He along with fellow activists used derogatory terms for the Dalit and Sikh communities as well.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India has been described as the political face of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. RSS is to BJP what SS was to the Nazi party in Germany. The difference being that SS under Himmler was subordinate to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) under Hitler. In India, BJP draws inspiration from and takes instructions from the RSS. Mainly, due to reasons of history, Islam has been considered by RSS as its arch – enemy. Post 9/11, fundamentalist Hindus in India, have been targeting the holiest personalities of Islam even more than ever before. RSS ideologues describe Islam as an evil religion which promotes an “evil ideology.”
RSS is an all male organisation, to the exclusion of women. Women are not allowed to join RSS. Nevertheless, a separate organisation for women exists in India by the name of Rashtra Sevika Samiti but it is independent of RSS while sharing the same goals and objectives. Understandably, RSS gives preference to Brahman Hindus in its rank and file. The RSS also has an overseas body called, The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS). It was established in Kenya before the partition with the aim to mobilise expatriate Hindus. The HSS has been active in around 42 countries, especially Nepal, Australia, UK, US and in some African states.
RSS has serious reservations on some important clauses of the Constitution of India. Not only this, there are reports that RSS firmly rejected the Constitution when it was formally passed on 26 November 1949. The RSS leadership has created controversy by making statements critical of even the national flag and the national anthem of India. Apart from being secretive in its working, which it prefers without publicity because of reasons of strategy, RSS is also one of the most feared organisations in India. Not many would like to lock horns with Hindu fundamentalists with the result that crimes against humanity committed by RSS remain un-discussed and are mostly down played.
Nevertheless, RSS attained notoriety when one of its activists Nathuram Godse, assassinated Gandhi, the Father of the Nation of India on 30 January 1948. Godse committed this act of terror to punish Gandhi for what he perceived as Gandhi’s leanings towards the minorities, especially Muslims. Consequently, RSS was banned by the government of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. Earlier during the British rule, a ban was placed on RSS because of its association with the right wing organisations in Europe, especially German Nazis. The RSS was banned again when the Emergency was imposed in India by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975-77 and later when Babri Masjid was demolished by RSS activists in December 1992.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi who joined the organisation when he was 8 years old, is an active member of RSS. So is the case with his cabinet ministers and close civil and military advisers. The BJP has a students’ wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthy Parishad. This body of young Hindus has a large following within and outside India. RSS is the mother party of almost all other important Hindu fundamentalist organisations in India. This includes Vishva Hindu Parishad, Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Jana Sangh. RSS has set up thousands of shaakhaas (Hindu madrassas) all over the country. Each and every significant city and town in India, has a shaakhaa. Training in militancy in these shaakhaas has been an essential part of the curriculum for the young Hindu recruits.
RSS has close to 6 million members in India. RSS has registered the highest growth in membership, especially between March 2015 and 2016. The organisation has grown steadily since 2012. By and large, silent support for the RSS has always existed in sections of the Indian civil society, bureaucracy, armed forces and especially in the security agencies of India. Textbooks are being rewritten in India for school children. According to Palash Ghosh, during World War II, Indian nationalists received explicit support from the German Nazis. In fact, some even served in Hitler’s army and in the notorious SS.
Muslims have always been a persecuted minority in India. Since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, Muslim persecution has increased manifold. There are almost daily reports of lynchings and rapes. Most of these atrocities are carried out by Hindus inspired by the RSS psyche. The RSS leadership has publicly announced the conversion of all Muslims and Christians in India to Hinduism. They have even set deadlines.
Coming into power of Narendra Modi, has once again, re-validated and re-authenticated Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Two Nation theory, not only in Pakistan but in India and also for the Muslims of Bangladesh. Narendra Modi’s ascent to power is bound to weaken the ideological foundations of India. All this is also being carefully noted in the neighbourhood. The recent abrogation of the articles on Kashmir is bound to have long term repercussions. The interests of the People’s Republic of China in the issue of Jammu and Kashmir are at stake. And, Beijing knows that RSS hates China. India’s 1962 humiliation has been unpalatable for the RSS.
Many term Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as the largest voluntary organisation in the world. In the same vein, others categorise BJP as the largest political party in the world. How can one ignore the view that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the largest terrorist organisation in the world with its political arm BJP, implementing the RSS agenda of Hindu fascism. The accusations of ‘saffron terror’ against RSS have not emanated from Islamabad, but from Indian analysts in India, who are understandably worried about the future of India. The long list of critiques of RSS among others includes each and every Prime Minister of India, minus Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on RSS leadership at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur. Indian analysts emphasise that Modi went there to present himself before the RSS chief Mohan Bhagat. Almost his entire Council of Ministers was there to demonstrate their accountability to the RSS. Today, India is no longer the country of Gandhi and Nehru. India has changed. Today, India is ruled by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, whose members eulogise not Gandhi but Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse. To presume that RSS does not have a comfortable control over India’s nuclear weapons would be a suicidal naivety. TW