Source: The Hitavada      Date: 20 Sep 2018 11:57:38

IT IS time the nation gave a serious thought to the philosophy of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) now being put forth by none other than Dr. Mohan Bhagwat, the dour Sarsanghchalak (chief) of the worldwide Hindu organisation. In a truly laudable effort, Dr. Bhagwat has sought to allay all politically-motivated fears of the larger Indian society about the RSS and its thinking and functioning. The statement he made in his second lecture in the Bhavishya Ka Bharat conclave in New Delhi should make a particularly positive impression on the larger social mindset -- ‘There will be no Hindu Rashtra without Muslims’. 

Hindutva is the basic thought applicable to all communities residing in India, irrespective of religion, Dr. Bhagwat has asserted. There still may be some people trying to distort the statement and add deliberate antagonistic shades to it. Yet, the statement is absolutely inclusive in its import. It indicates clearly that if a particular community is to be erased from the larger Indian social scene, the inclusive idea of Hindutva will fail totally. Through this statement, Dr. Bhagwat proposes to explain the ancient value of inclusiveness of the Indian thought-process. And this calls for a serious contemplation on the part of the larger Indian society about the form and content of philosophy that the RSS has stood for -- beyond politics, as has been stressed clearly by Dr. Bhagwat.

Not just Dr. Bhagwat for now, but every RSS chief, without exception, has asserted from time to time that the organisation does not treat any one single political party as its own, and that all political entities are equidistant to it. This assertion, however, has got obscured by another reality that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- and its earlier self the Akhil Bharatiya Jan Sangh -- have a special nearness to the RSS and the political leaders belonging to those parties have been integral parts of the RSS thought and action since the founding of the Jan Sangh in 1951. Despite their efforts to appear equidistant from all parties, the RSS bosses have not been able to erase the impression about the nearness of the BJP to the organisation. Perhaps, they will never succeed in this endeavour.

Let alone that, the other assertion that Hindutva is a truly inclusive concept beyond religion needs to be considered seriously by the larger Indian society. Contrary to the general impression about the RSS as a partisan organisation, the RSS chief is now stating clearly that the organisation does not envisage an India without Muslims -- or other communities, for that matter. There may still be some debate raging about this part of Dr. Bhagwat’s statement as some communities may suspect that the RSS chief is trying to impose the Hindu label on others. Again, this suspicion may be born out of political ideology. In order to face this obstacle in genuine unity, the RSS may have to think of possibilities of arriving at yet another definition which would be more inclusive not just in intended meaning but in actual verbal statement beyond confusion -- to allay all fears.

There is a very important reality of the current Indian polity, however. Most fears about the RSS are, unfortunately, politically-motivated. And the unfortunate reality is that wherever politics is involved, definitions tend to get rigid , refusing to reconsider opinions. The effort of Dr. Bhagwat is exactly this -- to urge everybody to understand the true inclusiveness of basic Indian thought which is at the core of the concept of ‘One World One Family’ (Vasudheiva Kutumbakam)!

However, it may not be easy for the larger Indian society to overlook some unnecessarily strident stands the RSS and its leadership have taken over time on critical issues. On countless occasions, such stands have confused -- and even angered -- RSS supporters, let alone others. Leaders of the RSS or many of its frontal organisations, including the BJP, have made statements that seem aimed at deliberately spooking other communities. Why that should happen, is beyond common comprehension. If the current Bhavishya Ka Bharat conclave is to succeed in its fundamental objective to reach out to the larger Indian society, then the RSS and its frontal organisations will have to give up the habit of making provocative statements, as a first step. Also, they will have to give up the habit of making statements pregnant with political meaning and agenda.

If the collective RSS leadership does not follow this simple discipline, the larger society will find it difficult to separate the actual RSS policy of not dabbling in politics and its expression of distinct opinion on issues of national importance. For, the distinction is too fine to be understood by people engaged in plebiscitary politics. Hence the need for the RSS leadership to be much more careful than it has been so far while making statements on critical issues. If this discipline is followed, the purpose of the current conclave would be served to a large extent.

It is not possible to assess what kind of positive impact Dr. Bhagwat’s extended statement over three days will have on the larger public opinion in India. Yet, it is also not all too impossible for sensible and sensitive minds to fathom the actual import of what the RSS chief is trying to communicate. For, Dr. Bhagwat said in his first lecture clearly that the diversity in Indian society need not be a cause of discord. Has this sentiment not been expressed unequivocally by all leaders, political or apolitical, all along? Is this sentiment not at the very foundation of the composite Indian culture that has the history and tradition of thousands of years? It is the need of the hour to think positively about Dr. Bhagwat’s statements from that point of view.
We must recognise that this outreach is one of the very laudable RSS exercises. For years, the organisation has been experimenting with various social outreach endeavours, though largely ignored by the political class. But time has come now to consider the form, content and intent of the RSS way of thinking.