Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

From Academic Kids

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is a Hindu nationalist organization which bases itself on the principles of Hindutva. It was started in 1925 by Dr. K.B. Hedgewar. According to the BBC, RSS is the largest voluntary organization in the world. Since 1925, it has slowly gained prominence and political influence, culminating in the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, formerly the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, and at one time considered to be the political wing of the Sangh movement) to head the central government of India.

Contents

Organization

The Sangh organises itself hierarchically, with a single individual, the sarsanghachalak, directing it. The position is decided by appointment, with each sarsanghachalak appointing his successor. The current sarsanghachalak of RSS is K.S. Sudarshan. Most of the organisational work of the Sangh is done through the coordination of shakhas, or branches. These shakhas are run every morning for 1 - 2 hours in public places. Currently more than 25,000 shakhas are run throughout India. These shakhas are the core building blocks of RSS structure. During a Shakha, the activities consist of yoga, games (including sometimes training in Silambam), discussions on broad range of social topics, prayer to Bharat Mata and an educational session (bouddhik) given by a notable figure selected by the shakha coordinator. Usually the educational session relates to the history of India, Indian philosophy and culture, or ethics.

Social impact

During recent time, people who share RSS's ideology have gone on to achieve the highest political positions in the Indian Politics. These leaders include Bhairon Singh Shekhawat (Vice-President), Atal Bihari Vajpaypee (ex-Prime Minister), Lal Krishna Advani (ex-Home Minister) and Narendra Modi (Chief Minister Of Gujarat State).

Criticism

In 1948 it was banned following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse, who was alleged to have connections with RSS. Godse was an ex-member of RSS as well as the Congress Party. The Sangh was, however, cleared after an investigation, and the ban was lifted the following year.

The Sangh is often considered to be a right-wing group and the Hindutva philosophy is often labelled "fascist" by its critics. Fundamental to RSS philosophy is the idea of "Akhand Bharat", a grand vision of a reunited, pre-partition, Hindu-majority India. RSS supporters say their main demand has been that the Government stop the alleged "appeasement" of Muslims, such as placing Hindu temples under government control but placing no restriction on mosques and churches (therefore Hindu religious proceeds are theoretically funding the latter two), the handling of the controversial Shah Bano case, article 370 where no Indian citizen is allowed to settle in Kashmir thus seemingly preserving its Muslim majority status, government subsidies for the Hajj pilgrimage and failure to implement population control due to fears of antagonising Muslim voters (who have the highest-birth rates). Critics are quick to argue that these stir up anti-Muslim hate, and ignore Hindu-oriented policies such as tax breaks for Hindu undivided families, the funding of Hindu pilgrimages (though internal not international like the Hajj), and the prevention of discrimination against lower castes (already banned by Indian law).

The stated historical position of the RSS and the Hindutva movement is that Hindus have been oppressed in their own homeland (India) for many years, and that RSS is only asserting the natural rights of Hindus and correcting historical wrongs, which critics say is an attempt to change the secular foundations of India. The most notable conflict over this divergent view of history involves the re-building of the Ayodhya temple, where it is argued that Babri Masjid was built by the Muslim ruler Babur in the 16th century after he demolished the pre-existing Rama Janmabhoomi Temple, which some Hindus believe to be the site of the birth of the legendary God-Emperor Hindu God Rama. Critics say that the Sangh only wants to stir up controversy as there are at least 50 temples in Ayodhya which claim to be the birth place of Rama. A controversial study conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India in 2003 concluded that a temple-like structure existed at the site prior to the construction of the mosque.

List of Sangh Inspired Organizations

See also

External Links

fr:Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

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