New Delhi: In his annual address on Vijayadashmi, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak (chief) Mohan Bhagwat emphasised on the core issue of ‘Hindutva as a binding force for Bharat’, ‘Swadeshi’ and ‘family values’. The emphasis this time, however, was not merely in the domestic but global context in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Until recently the philosophy of integrating the world on the basis of the market forces dominated human imagination, but with the latest turn of events, the idea of safeguarding life and exercising international cooperation by promoting unique strengths and assets of each country is an idea that has started to take shape in the global mind. The philosophy of ‘Swadeshi’ has trumped once again. It is time to redefine these adages in view of the current Bhartiya context and to rebuild paths that will lead us back to our time-tested values and traditions,” the Sarsanghchalak said in the annual address considered to be a primer on the way forward by the RSS, the organisation that was founded in 1925 on the occasion of Vijayadashmi.
He also endorsed the Narendra Modi government’s actions on handling the coronavirus pandemic, abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, and China stand-off. He also cautioned in context of the Delhi riots and anti-CAA agitations, saying that a nexus of separatists, fundamentalists and anti-India forces are trying to pose a threat to the unity of India.
‘Swadeshi’ key to sustaining ‘New Normal’
Emphasising that the ‘swadeshi model of economic development’ doesn’t mean isolation, but having an equal say in international economic affairs, he also talked about the concept of ‘New Normal’ in context of Covid and reiterated that ‘Swadeshi’ and ‘family values’ are key to sustaining this ‘New Normal’.
Bhagwat said, “In comparison to many countries, Bharat stood strong in the face of adversity and dealt with the calamity effectively. There are some reasons why we escaped Corona debilitation that few countries could not. Our governing and administrative agencies promptly sprung up in action. They cautioned citizens, created emergency task forces and efficiently implemented control measures. The media monotonously aired news on just this issue. While this exercise created an atmosphere of disproportionate fear among the common man, it also compelled the society to exercise caution and restrain by obeying rules. Government officials, medical practitioners practising different forms of medicine, police officers, municipality workers and cleaners displayed an extraordinary sense of responsibility by dedicatedly serving the infected patients.”
“Many other facets of our society became apparent during the battle against this pandemic. A shift in favour of introspective thinking is trending across the world. The phrase ‘New Normal’ often comes up in conversations,” he added.
The Sarsanghchalak further said, “Since March, Sangh swayamsevaks are working to fill the gaps wherever needed in this difficult backdrop. They will also make wholehearted contributions in the new Sewa initiatives enumerated above. I am hopeful that other members of the society will also decipher the need for persistent long-term efforts and make needful contribution.”
On China, Ram Temple and anti-CAA protests
Commenting on China, he said, “China’s role in the breakout of this pandemic may be disputable but its misuse of their riches by unleashing terror on the borders of Bharat and boisterous efforts to invade our territories are well-known to the whole world. Bharatiya (Indian) defence forces, government and the people remained unfazed and responded sharply to this attack. This example of a strong resolution, exercising self-respect and bravery has stunned China. Going further, we must be watchful and remain firm.
Even in the past, the world has time and again witnessed China’s expansionist attitude. Rising above China economically, strategically, in securing cooperative ties with our neighbours and at international relations is the only way to neutralise those demonic aspirations. The policies proposed by our leaders seem to be charting those very horizons.”
Speaking on anti-CAA protests, abrogation of Article 370 and Ram Temple construction, Bhagwat said, “Since March the talk about corona pandemic has shadowed all other talk about developments across the world. Many noteworthy incidents took place between the last VijayaDashmi and now. With due observance of parliamentary procedure, Article 370 was abrogated well before the Vijayadashmi in 2019.
After Diwali, on 9 November 2019, the Supreme Court passed an unambiguous verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi case, thereby making a historical judgment. The exemplary patience and understanding of Bharatiya people regarding this judgment became evident in the restraint along with piety and festive fervour displayed on 5 August in Ayodhya at the bhoomi pujan (groundbreaking ceremony) and shilanyas samaroh (foundation stone laying event) of the soon-to-be constructed Ram Mandir there.”
He also said the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was lawfully passed in the Parliament as per the constitutional process, adding that this amendment does not oppose any particular religious community.
“The constitutional provisions for granting citizenship to foreigners who come to Bharat continue to be the same. But those who wanted to oppose this new law misled our Muslim brothers by propagating a false notion that it was aimed at restricting the Muslim population. Opportunists took advantage of this delicate situation by unleashing organised violence and causing social unrest in the name of protests. As a consequence, a tense atmosphere was created in the country that put our communal harmony at stake,” he said.
“Even before something could be thought out and done to resolve the situation, the Covid pandemic crept in and gradually took hold. In the background, the efforts by rioters and opportunists to reignite the conflict still continue. It is not making a mark on the collective consciousness or garnering headlines in publications other than the ones that fuel such activities because of the overwhelming discussions of Corona in the media.”
Clarifying the air on the concept of ‘Swadeshi’, Bhagwat, quoting RSS stalwart Dattopant Thengadi said, “Swadeshi cuts beyond goods and services and stands for attaining a position of international cooperation by achieving national self-reliance, sovereignty and parity. So to achieve financial independence in the future and attain a position of international cooperation, we are open to foreign investors and give relaxations to companies offering newer technologies, provided they engage on our terms and mutually agreeable conditions. But such a decision has to be based on mutual consensus.”
‘Hindutva’ applicable to all Indians
Talking about ‘Hindutva’, the RSS chief said, “We should be sensitive towards people of all religions, regions, castes and linguistic backgrounds and conduct ourselves within constitutionally warranted limits. Unfortunately, those misaligned with or opposed to our socio-cultural values have, while professing to be the champions of democracy, Constitution and secularism, continued to fool and confuse the people of our country. In his 29 August 1949 address to the Constituent Assembly, revered Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar used the phrase “grammar of anarchy” to describe the actions of such elements. We have to learn to identify such disguised elements and defuse their conspiracies by alarming and alerting our brothers and sisters so that they can not be shepherded away by such predators. To avoid this type of confusion about the Sangh, realising Sangh’s preference for a specific vocabulary and how it interprets certain popular terms is crucial.”
He also said the meaning of Hindutva has been “distorted by appending a ritualistic connotation to it.”
“Sangh does not use it to refer to this misconception. To us, it is the word expressing our identity along with the continuity of its spirituality-based traditions and its entire wealth of value system in the land of Bharat. Therefore, Sangh believes that it is the word applicable to all the 1.3 billion people who call themselves the sons and daughters of Bharatvarsh, whose everyday life is a striving toward an alignment with its moral and ethical code and who are proud of the heritage of their ancestors who successfully traversed the same spiritual landscape since time immemorial.
Being oblivious to the true meaning of this term weakens the thread that integrates us with this country and society. It is for this reason that this term is the first target of castigation by those who instigate intergroup conflicts, who are bent on splitting our country and society.”
(The writer is research director with Vichar Vinimay Kendra, a Delhi-based think tank. He has authored two books on RSS)