‘Nobody is feeling unsafe here’: ABVP’s Sunil Ambekar
A long-time functionary of the RSS, Sunil Ambekar in an interview to the HT spoke about the Sangh’s stance on issues such as a reservation, Hindutva and the need to educate the youth about the concept of dignity of labour.Updated: Oct 01, 2019 08:48 IST
Sunil Ambekar , who holds a key position in the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has authored a book on the RSS and its roadmap for the 21st century. Ambekar, the national organising secretary of ABVP, says the book will introduce the minutiae of the organisation to those who want to know and those who oppose it without knowing it.
A long-time functionary of the Sangh, Ambekar in an interview to the HT spoke about the Sangh’s stance on issues such as a reservation, Hindutva and the need to educate the youth about the concept of dignity of labour.
There is a certain discomfort with the word Hindutva. There is a section that blames Hindutva for instilling Hindu supremacy. Yet in your book you say it will be India’s greatest cultural export.
Hindutva is oneness, it is a unifying factor. We believe the ancestors of 99% of Christians and Muslims in India are Hindus; their identity is Indian. When we forget that then we divide. The real face of Hindutva is that we believe in oneness of all and inclusive identity. Hindutva,unlike other religions, respects and believes in coexistence of other faiths. Those who believe in Western grammar and philosophy need to understand the Indian thought process; which is unique.
Where did the word secularism come from? It came after the Church captured all spheres from economic to political; the word came in reaction to that. Here no such thing happened.
What about polarisation on the basis of religion and even political thought? There are sections within minorities who feel unsafe.
Nobody is feeling unsafe here; people in Pakistan might be feeling unsafe. I will give you an example: the abrogation of Article 370 (from Jammu and Kashmir) was a big event. Thousands of Kashmiri students are studying in universities across the country, all of them were safe, nothing happened. I feel this is a practice for some years now to use the terms minorities and majorities. We do not endorse this. We consider everyone as people of this country; because the ancestors are one and were born here.
The only ones who are scared are the ones whose politics based on minority appeasement is getting over; the ones who are scared are whose caste-politics is getting over. There is peace in the country; there used to be riots in the country.
Then what about the incidents of mob violence and lynching?
I don’t think it is right to use these terms. Lynching happens outside (India); not here. It is not correct to take pinpointed, community-wise statistics. We have to look at the complete statistics. Yes, there is crime in our country, but law is taking its course, people are being arrested. To make a list is wrong.
There has been a spurt in the membership of ABVP and the RSS. Is this a shortcut to BJP and politics?
The Sangh’s work is very difficult and vast. It takes up issues as varied as national security to Seva, for the rights of the deprived people and Samajik Samarasta. Some political leaders get the benefit of that, but our job is not that (to help political parties). People who join are inspired to work for the country. People are also free to join politics, but there are no shortcuts in the Sangh.
Students across campuses across the world are known to question government, take an adversarial position. There is a perception that protest against a party is seen as protest against the country. We’ve seen students slapped with sedition.
It is not true that students are being dealt with a firm hand. There are 900 university universities and 40,000 campuses and all together most of the students are happy and engage with the government initiatives. There is democracy; even in JNU all are free, they take part in elections. Where is the problem?
In some campuses like the Jadavpur University there are some organisations that are anti-democracy and anti-freedom of expression. There is an attempt on some campuses to create such a narrative but these organisations have links with those who raise slogans against the country. There are some people who want to create an atmosphere of fear. There is a law in this country, it will take its own course.
RSS claims to be caste-less, insulated from caste biases. Why do you think is the Sangh then questioned about its stance on caste based reservation? There also seems to be a perception that the Sangh is brahaminical.
There are many who see caste-based politics as a shortcut (to political relevance); they want to divide society. The Sangh not only speaks but takes action for bringing society together. While their work is to create divisions, Hindus believe in forging bonds. When we speak of Hindu, we speak of all irrespective of caste. Hindu is a unifying factor. Sangh does not work in a political manner; we work as a social organisation and since more people are getting familiar with Sangh’s work they are joining us. The ones who fear this are the ones who raise this manufactured suspicion. Removing caste biases is a priority for the Sangh.
There are some groups which are manufacturing suspicions because of fear of losing their ground. Those who accuse us of Hindu superiority view Hinduism through the prism of jatis or castes. There was discrimination in society no one should deny that. We have to constantly make efforts to weed that out.
There has been a decline in the number of jobs. There are sectors facing a crunch; has the ABVP taken up these concerns with the government? You’ve met the PM too.
We believe in dialogue and agitation; we use both modes irrespective of the government. As a students’ body it is our responsibility to make representations to the government; sometimes there is a good response and sometimes we agree to disagree.
It is not a recent issue. For long because of the economic structure that was followed, there has been an issue of employment (paucity). There are many government sectors were jobs are opening up such as in central universities.
In our country, people had begun to equate jobs only with government jobs. But it is not possible for all to get government. Entrepreneurship is very important, so skill training and Mudra loans for start ups are important.
There are many sectors such as agriculture that have a social stigma attached; it is not considered as a high status work in our society. Our youth does not consider many jobs with dignity. Developed countries have done away with such stigmas, so people can be accommodated in economy.