The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) may shed its customary khaki shorts in a bid to reach out to more people, buoyed by a recent upsurge in the number of its volunteers and branches.
In about a month, the organisation will take a final call on a much-deliberated makeover that may see trousers replace the pleated shorts that members wear.
“A discussion on the issue will be held at the meeting of the RSS Pratinidhi Sabha (its highest decision-making body) between March 11 and 13 at Nagaur in Rajasthan,” the organisation’s publicity chief Manmohan Vaidya told HT. “If approved, the change will come into force either from Vijayadashmi (the day the RSS chief makes an annual address to volunteers) or from the next Sangh Siksha Varga (training session) starting April 2017.”
Sources said senior leaders of the group have zeroed in on three colour options for the trousers – blue, grey and brown. And, in an attempt to cater to the younger crowd, fashion designers may also get a say in what a modern day swayamsevak, or volunteer, wears.
The change is reportedly part of the RSS’s effort to woo the youth.
“Some felt that khaki shorts should be replaced for modernising the dress code. A detailed discussion was held, and the suggestion may turn into reality at last,” another RSS functionary said.
According to sources, an informal committee within the organisation was told to look into the demands for change and consult various stakeholders.
The present ganvesh – the dress code for RSS volunteers – consists of a black cap, a full-sleeved white shirt, khaki shorts, a canvas belt and shoes.
“We have been planning this change for nearly a decade. The matter was discussed extensively during a meeting at Ranchi in November. It will also be taken up at the forthcoming conclave in Nagaur, Rajasthan, for a final decision,” said an RSS member.
Since volunteers observe the dress code at RSS events as well as regular exercise drills, professional help has been sought to ensure that the trousers’ design is not only contemporary but also comfortable.
“Any change is for the best,” a functionary said. “The RSS does not see any harm in changing with the times. Rather, it has adopted many such changes in the past.”
It was in 1939, 14 years after the RSS was founded, that the first change was made to its dress code – the colour of the shirt was altered from khaki to white. In 1973, military shoes made way for regular ones.
The most-recent change in the RSS’s ganvesh came in 2010, when leather belts were replaced by canvas belts on a suggestion from Jain saint Tarun Sagar. Switching the full sleeved shirts with white T-shirts has also been suggested, but that is not under consideration right now, said a source.