Under a tin shade on a hot afternoon in Rajasthan’s Akola town, 40 workers are working furiously on turning bales of khaki cloth into 10,000 trousers. The pants have to be ready by mid-July — a tall order. But for Jayprakash, who owns the tailoring unit, it’s more a labour of love than business as the client is the RSS.
The swayamsevak is running a tight ship to get the trousers — which will replace the trademark khaki knickers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — finished.
His family has been stitching the Hindu nationalist organisation’s uniform — the baggy shorts, full-sleeved white shirt with left pocket and black cap — for years, churning out 50,000 shorts a year.
The RSS, the BJP’s ideological parent, dropped the knickers at a meeting of the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, its highest decision-making body, in Rajasthan’s Nagaur in March. Swayamsevaks will switch to the trousers from October. The rest of the uniform remains the same.
Jayprakash’s workers are stitching the pants loose so their wearers can perform yoga and surya namaskar comfortably. He was paid Rs 3.25 per inch according to waist size for the shorts and hopes to make Rs 300 per trouser. But he insists it’s “not only business for me, it’s a matter of ideology”.
Seventy kilometers south of Akola is Chaudhawadi, where Titan Process House has received white cloth from weaving units in the textile town of Bhilwara with orders to dye it a dark khaki. Its general manager VK Sharma says the unit will provide seven lakh metres of the processed material for the trousers.
The Bhilwara weavers — owned by people with allegiance to the RSS — had to rope in the dying unit after it failed to get khaki yarn from Chenab Textile Mills in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir. They must still provide an additional three lakh metres of the cloth and are waiting to get the right yarn.