The RSS has been espousing social and nationalist causes since its inception in 1925. Yet, lies are spread about both the organisation and its swayamsevaks. Though the RSS works at the grassroots level and believes in developing a bond with ordinary citizens, many rely on news reports and analyses for information about the RSS, which often leads to a false perception of the RSS.
The RSS has an array of outfits doing social work. The Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram works for the welfare of tribals, Sewa Bharati works in slums, Vidya Bharati runs schools and colleges are among the country’s biggest service organisations outside the government. All in all, the sangh parivar runs over 152,000 different service projects and they work without any State grant.
The other issue that keeps cropping up is about the dwindling number of shakhas. There are 51,330 shakhas in India, held at 33,222 places. This is after the 25% increase in our shakhas as compared to 2012. This year, 4,000 students participated in our personality development camps in Haryana and some 2,500 students in Delhi.
All office bearers upon reaching the age of 75 years retire from their official positions in the RSS. A vast majority of central office-bearers of the RSS are in their 50s and 60s. So, the view that the RSS is an ‘all-ageing men’s club’ is incorrect. Over the years, professionals from IT, management, medicine and technocrats from other fields have joined the RSS and this number continues to swell. Currently, the RSS holds 12,847 weekly Milans (meetings) and 9,008 Sangh Mandalis. There are also 6,077 shakhas for students.
The khaki shorts and white shirt is the shakha uniform of the RSS and has been designed to allow swayamsevaks to comfortably take part in various physical exercises and sporting activities. After the shakha, all the pracharaks and swayamsevaks are free to wear anything of their choice.
Recently, there have been worries that the RSS is targeting premier institutes such as the IITs and IIMs. The weekly magazine Organiser is not a mouthpiece of RSS. Besides, the Organiser solicits articles from people across ideologies and beliefs. The article that talked about anti-Hindu activities at IITs and IIMs was written by an ex-professor of IIT, based on his own personal experience, who had every right to express his views.
(Rajiv Tuli is media head of the RSS in Delhi. The views expressed are personal)