RSS is just a monolith but it’s allied organisations are working in every field, from education and labour to agriculture
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, numerically is arguably the world’s largest social organisation but its membership is not registered. Sangh though, has over three dozen allied organisations working in different fields. These range from education, culture, religious, social, agriculture, labour, economy, women, tribals and the youth. Members of all these organisations are naturalised members of the parent organisation as well.
Today, with over 5 million active members assembling in over 50,000 shakhas each day across India and over 100 affiliate bodies, the RSS is certainly a force to be reckoned with. With such an extensive network, they have successfully conducted mass movements for the greater good of societies. The RSS runs 27,000 Ekal Vidyalayas (schools) in remote tribal areas where more than 8 lakh socially deprived tribal students are enrolled. This is just one of their many initiatives. Let us take a look at some of these organisations...
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh
It is the largest trade union organization in India with more than 10 million members. It was founded by Dattopant Thengdi on 23 July 1955. BMS is not affiliated to any International Trade Union Confederation. It is the labour wing of RSS. The BMS aims to fight for the rights of the workers both in the public and private sector. It wants complete utilisation of manpower and resources to provide full employment and maximum production – essential ethos of the RSS. Another objective of the BMS is Replacement of profit motive by service motive and establishment of economic democracy resulting in equitable distribution of wealth. The BMS inspires the workers to strive successfully for protecting and promoting their interest consistent with those of the community. It often agitates for workers’ right for security of service and for social security, the right to conduct trade union activities and the right to strike as a last resort after having exhausted other legitimate methods of trade unionism for redressal of grievances.
The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh
BKS is an Indian farmers’ representative organisation affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. It was formed in Madhya Pradesh in 1978 and began its activities after getting the organisation duly registered. However, its first conference was held at Kota (Rajasthan) from March 3, 1979 where RSS veteran Dattopant Thengadi announced the formal launch of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh - a non-political body of the farmers, for the farmers and by the farmers. It has units in all states of India, with nearly two crore members.
The organisation strives to unite and organise the peasantry for the betterment of their financial social, cultural, educational, conditions and cottage industrial activity by making available stable avenues of livelihood and survival and to make available information and other related literature in respect of new innovations, improvements, methodologies etc. in the field of agriculture and to encourage the farmers to adopt the same.
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad
It is the nationalist all India student organisation affiliated to the RSS. It is one of the largest student organisations with more than 33 lakh members.Since 1970s, ABVP has been taking up issues concerning the lower middle classes like corruption and government inertia that were also being taken on by communist student groups. The ABVP played a leading role in the students agitations during the JP movement in mid-1970s. This led to collaboration among student activists in Gujarat and Bihar. The ABVP gained significantly from such efforts after the Emergency and experienced a growth in membership.
By 1974, the ABVP had 160,000 members across 790 campuses and had gained control over several prominent universities, including University of Delhi via student elections. By 1983, the organisation had 250,000 members and 1,100 branches. It claims to be India’s largest student organisation and a number of Union ministers like Ravi Shankar Prasad and Arun Jaitely have been members of the ABVP.
The Swadeshi Jagaran Manch
SJM was formed on November 22, 1991 at Nagpur by representatives of five national level organisations including BMS, ABVP, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh BKS, Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat (ABGP) and Sahkar Bharati. The first massive campaign against the economic policy of then Narasimha Rao government was launched on January 12, 1992, the birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Subsequently, literature on Swadeshi and intellectual property rights were launched. General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and economic imperialism of multinationals was published and distributed to popularize the cause of SJM.
It has been working among the economically weaker sections of the society like slum dwellers and resettlement colonies by introducing a number of welfare and social service programs, such as free medical assistance, free education, as well as vocational training through its nationwide network of more than 10000 centers. It runs about 160,000 activities throughout the year in 602 districts. It was set up in 1979. Seva Bharati members rendered yeoman’s role following the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, the 2008 Bihar flood and the 2004 Tsunami. The organisation is also known for its efforts in rehabilitating the victims of terror, especially the children who are rendered orphans by terror attacks. The volunteers of Seva Bharati today are involved in more than one hundred thousand service projects in remote areas of the country. Seva Bharati has 13,786 projects in education, 10,908 in health care, 17,560 in social welfare and 7,452 self-reliance projects.
It is the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Founded on October 1, 1984, it has since spread throughout India, although its most significant base remains in the northern and central portions of the country. The group runs about 2,500 branches. The Bajrang Dal’s slogan is ‘Sevā Suraksha Sanskriti’ (service, safety and culture).
The Durga Vahini
It is the women’s wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad established in 1991 with Sadhvi Rithambara as its founding chairperson. Durga Vahini was formed to encourage more women to participate in prayer meetings and in cultural activities. The aim of the organization is to establish Hindu solidarity by helping Hindu families during times of hardship and by providing social services.
Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation
It is involved in education and village development in rural and tribal villages. It is the largest grassroots, non-government education initiative in India with presence in 51,717 villages providing free education to more than one million children. The foundation’s model of operation is single-teacher schools, with the premise of one teacher for every school. They have local teachers who teach in the regional language using various modes like story-telling, folk dramas, and folk songs. The schools also impart moral education, healthcare education and organic farming techniques
Rashtra Sevika Samiti
It is a nationalist women’s organisation, an ally of the RSS which is exclusively a male organisation. That is why it is often referred to as the “women’s wing” of the RSS. Set up in 1936, Rashtra Sevika Samiti is today the largest women’s organisation working to uphold Indian culture and traditions. RSS women are actively involved in socio-cultural activities. Samiti inculcates a sense of patriotism and social awareness in people. Various types of training camps at different levels in all parts of India are conducted periodically.
The Samiti currently operates in 5215 centers of which 875 centers conduct the Shakhas on a daily basis. It has overseas branches in 10 countries, which use the name Hindu Sevika Samiti. The Samiti also runs 475 service projects all over India for the poor and underprivileged.
It is an educational organisation which runs one of the largest private networks of schools across the country. Its aim is to develop a national system of education which would help to build a generation that is committed to Hindutva and infused with patriotic fervor, fully developed physically, vitally, mentally and spiritually, capable of successfully facing challenges of day to day life-situations.
Vidya Bharti established its first Saraswati Shishu Mandir in Gorakhpur in 1952, under the aegis of Nanaji Deshmukh. Similar schools and committees were subsequently set up in Delhi, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. It has in its kitty 21,000 schools, 29 lakh students, 93,000 teachers, 15 teacher training colleges, 12 degree colleges and 7 vocational and training institutions. Most of the Vidya Bharati schools are affiliated to the Central Board for Secondary Education or their local State Boards.
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram focuses on indigenous tribes in remote areas of India and has branches all over India. These branches focus on agriculture, healthcare, child education, and sports and culture in their respective regions. It is also aimed at resisting the conversion of tribals and encouraging their reconversion. It tries to bring tribals into the mainstream with economic development but with their cultural moorings. The Ashram, by providing basic amenities like healthcare, employment, and education, helps the tribes avoid activities that can hamper their development. Their efforts are also directed at conflict resolution between the different tribes, which sometimes clash amongst themselves over petty issues.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad
VHP is also an RSS ally aimed at conserving and propagating the cause of Hindutva. The VHP was founded in 1964 by M. S. Golwalkar and S. S. Apte in collaboration with Swami Chinmayananda to organise, consolidate the Hindu society and to serve and protect the Hindu Dharma.It has been involved in issues such as construction and renovation of Hindu temples including Ram Janmabhoomi Temple movement, protest religious conversion and protection of cows etc.
Muslim Rashtriya Manch
It was formed in 2002 at the initiative of the then RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan to allow the Sangh Parivar to reach out to Muslims to bring Hindus and Muslims closer. The MRM has also expressed support for many of the causes espoused by the RSS, including the banning of cow-slaughter.In November 2009 the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, one of the largest Islamic organisations in India, passed a resolution describing Vande Mataram as an un-Islamic song. The MRM opposed the resolution. Its president Mohd Afzal asked Muslim brothers “not to follow the fatwa as Vande Mataram is the national song of the country and every Indian citizen should respect and recite it.”
Akhil Bhartiya Shikshan Mandal
It was constituted to restore Indian values among teachers so that they can impart the same values to their students. The teachers are also trained to resist anti-national values. They also conduct a number of workshops and research projects to understand Hindutva values.
All India Sahitya Parishad
This RSS-affiliate was set up in 1996 to enhance and promote nationalistic fervor in the field of literature. It is also aimed at increasing cultural values in Indian literature. It provides a joint forum to all Indian languages and their writers. A number of eminent writers have been associated with the Parishad.
This organisation is working to restore the status of Sanskrit as the original Indian language and popularise it. Sanskrit Bharti organises workshops, debates and has set up many educational institutions to promote the language.
Bharat Vikas Parishad
Dr Suraj Prakash and Lala Hansraj Gupta set up this organisation in 1963 to involve industrialists and businessmen with the RSS. It has 1200 branches, 54000 families and over 1.08 lakh members today. Besides these, the RSS affiliates also include many other organisation working in diverse fields. These include Deendayal Research Institute (DRI) set up by Nanajo Deshmukh in 1972 for rural upliftment.
Other such organisations are Vigyan Bharti for promotion of science among masses, Purva Sainik Seva Parishad for rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, Kreeda Bharti (for promotion of sports and Yoga), Akhil Bhartiya Adhivakta Parishad (to involve lawyers with Indian way of life), Akhil Bhartiya Sahkar Bharti (to ensure interests of cooperatives are protected), Akhil Bhartiya Grahak Panchayat (to protect consumers’ interests), Laghu Udyog Bharti (to promote small enterprises and solve their issues), Pragya Pravah (a forum of right wing intellectuals), Bhartiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana (to conserve and enrich our historical heritage), Vivekanand Kendra, Hindu Jagaran Manch in Delhi, Hindu Mannani (in Kerala), Arogya Bharti to promote Indian system of medical treatments etc. The RSS also publishes two magazines – Organiser in English and Panchjanya in Hindi. It has many publishing houses across India which have been publishing newspapers, magazines, and books sympathic to RSS ideology. The RSS had set up a news agency also – Hindustan Samachar – in 1949.
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