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Home / India News / Annual meet of prominent US Hindu group may coincide with PM Narendra Modi’s event

Annual meet of prominent US Hindu group may coincide with PM Narendra Modi’s event

Prior to joining electoral politics, Modi served as a prachark or a full-time worker of the RSS, the ideological mentor of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

india Updated: Sep 16, 2019 06:29 IST
During his US visit that begins on September 21, PM Modi will address the 2019 Climate Action Summit.
During his US visit that begins on September 21, PM Modi will address the 2019 Climate Action Summit. (PTI File Photo )

On September 22, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be addressing the Indian-American community in Houston, key functionaries of the US Chapter of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the overseas counterpart of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), will be engaged in their annual “national council” meeting.

Although the PM is not scheduled to interact separately with HSS office-bearers, a functionary aware of the developments said on condition of anonymity that the annual meeting would keep the top HSS leadership away from the Modi event, named, “Howdy Modi!”.

Prior to joining electoral politics, Modi served as a prachark or a full-time worker of the RSS, the ideological mentor of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

V Bhagaiah, joint general secretary of the RSS, is expected to attend the annual meeting, which takes stock of the activities undertaken by different divisions of the HSS. There are as many as six divisions of the HSS in the US.

During his US visit that begins on September 21, PM Modi will address the 2019 Climate Action Summit hosted by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres on September 23, and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 27. There is also speculation about a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump.

“Only those functionaries and volunteers who are part of the organising committee will be present for the interaction [with Indian diaspora], which is expected to be attended by over 50,000 people. Senior functionaries of the HSS will be at the annual meeting from September 20 to 22, which was scheduled over a year ago,” said the functionary cited above.

Houston, home to over 500,000 Indian-Americans, one of the largest concentrations of the community in the US, is the energy capital of the world. Energy security is a priority area for the prime minister.

The US Chapter of the HSS is counted among the most active and the biggest overseas counterpart of the RSS.

According to the information on its website, the HSS-USA is a “voluntary, non-profit, social and cultural organization” with the aim of organising “ the Hindu community in order to preserve, practice and promote Hindu ideals and values”.

“The HSS is inspired by the RSS and it can safely be called the overseas chapter of the RSS. It has a presence in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and a host of other countries. Through shakhas [RSS camps] that are held in various zones in these countries, the RSS fosters cultural ties and values among the diaspora,” said a second functionary, also asking not to be named.

He said HSS chapters in the US and other countries strive to keep the Hindu traditions and festivals alive. Its website says that Guru Purnima (a festival to pay honour teachers) was celebrated during the months of May and June in 20 states, which was attended by more than 1,250 teachers, principals, and superintendents.

“There are as many as 202 shakhas in the US and the karyavah [director] of each zone will be present for the annual meeting. Bhagaiah ji who is in charge of the{HSS in the} US and the global coordinator of the HSS,, Saumitra Gokhale, will be meeting the karyavahas who will present a timeline of the activities conducted through the year,” said the first functionary.

In their authoritative book on the Sangh — “RSS, A View to the Inside”, authors Shridhar Damle and Walter Andersen refer to the HSS having a strong presence in ‘’three English-speaking countries: the US, the United Kingdom and Australia (though there are reports of such organisations in at least thirty-nine countries worldwide)”.

They have also referred to the importance that is accorded to the HSS, which is seen as instrumental in drumming up support for the BJP overseas. The authors credit HSS for “the drawing power of Modi’s overseas rallies”.

“Working closely with the HSS to organise Modi’s rallies is the Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP), an administrative wing of the BJP operating from the party office in New Delhi,” the book says.