Simply put: Overseas swayamsevaks, their Hindutva project

Who are the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh? What is the five-yearly Vishwa Sangh Shibir, the latest edition of which concluded in Indore earlier this month?

Written by Ashutosh Bhardwaj | Published:January 11, 2016 2:26 am
RSS, RSS meet, RSS meet in Indore, RSS members gathering, HSS, Emerald Height International School, Indore news, Nation news Amit Shah at Vishwa Sangh Shibir in Indore on Friday. (Source: PTI)

What is the Vishwa Sangh Shibir (VSS)? 

The VSS is a once-in-five-years conclave of the RSS-supported Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, aimed at uniting Hindus across the world. The first Vishwa Sangh Shibir was held in Bengaluru in 1990, followed by Vadodara (1995), Mumbai (2000), Ahmedabad (2005), Pune (2010) and, most recently, for five days in Indore from December 29, 2015. Around 200 members attended the first meet; at the Shibir in Indore, 506 male and 240 female members from 43 countries were present.

The VSS’s stated aims are to unite Hindus abroad, popularise the Hindutva way of life, and ensure that India’s cultural heritage is passed on to younger generations. “At this Shibir we discuss how to spread the work and the message of RSS. Often, it marks the first visit to India for many HSS members. It is also an opportunity to inform them about Bharatiya culture,” says the Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh of the RSS, Manmohan Vaidya.

Why was the Indore meet significant?

The Shibir, the first after an “RSS pracharak” became Prime Minister, was organised on a grander scale and with more enthusiasm than before. The conclave saw participation by top RSS and BJP leaders including Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, BJP president Amit Shah, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The broad theme of the conclave was “Hindu Jagega Toh Vishwa Jagega (When Hindus awaken, so will the world)”. It had sessions on the Hindu way of life, Hindu thoughts on the environment, the saintly tradition of India, ancient Indian science, etc.

Former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair, chief guest at the valedictory session, emphasised on swadeshi science and technology, and hailed ancient Indian knowledge of plastic surgery, space science, etc. Indian scriptures had mentioned water on the Moon thousands of years before the Chandrayaan Moon mission, Nair said.

The meet also discussed problems of Hindu minorities in many countries, including racism, and decided to form a common front to lobby for the cause of Hindus.

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What exactly are the links between the HSS and the RSS?

The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh is a registered organisation in 40 countries around the world; in three others, it has its units, but is not yet registered. The RSS is not a registered body, the only one of its kind with such massive presence across India. The HSS was formed by swayamsevaks in need of a legal identity abroad. “Our soul is connected with the RSS. We take inspiration from it. The RSS is our role model. We seek its guidance on crucial issues,” says Ravi Kumar, joint coordinator of the HSS.

When was the HSS formed?

In January 1947, months before Independence, on a ship full of Indians on its way to Africa, a swayamsevak from Punjab had the urge to recite the RSS prayer. As he ended the prayer, Namaste Sada Vatsale Matri Bhume, he realised he had been joined by several others on board. This man, Jagadish Sharada Shastri, in effect led the first RSS shakha beyond the shores of India. That same year, the Bharatiya Swayamsevak Sangh was formed in Kenya, and was subsequently renamed HSS. It was established in the UK in 1966, and in the US in 1989.

After nearly seven decades, this body of overseas swayamsevaks organises nearly 1,000 shakhas weekly, which are attended by children, women, youths and the elderly.

How is the HSS organised?

Individual units in each country have a head. There is a global coordinator, and three joint coordinators. New York-based Soumitra Gokhale is the HSS coordinator currently, while Ravi Kumar (Australia), Dr Ram Vaidya (London) and Dr Sadanand Sapre (Bhopal) are the joint coordinators.

Like the RSS, HSS raises its own funds. The Indore meet saw participants from Guyana, Thailand, South Africa and Norway, who spent their own money to travel to India.

Like the RSS’s women’s wing Rashtra Sevika Samiti, the HSS has a women’s unit called the Hindu Sevika Samiti.

The HSS doesn’t offer an exact count of swayamsevaks, but claims a huge number. In Sydney, for instance, 20,000 members are said to have gathered for the annual Diwali gathering. “Many natives of the host country also attend the programmes. Parents send their children to our programmes to learn good values,” Ravi Kumar says. The work of the HSS is recognised by some governments. Myanmar, for instance, has awarded a free first class railway pass to an HSS pracharak in recognition of the organisation’s work for orphanages in that country.

Is there a relationship between the HSS and the Narendra Modi government?

HSS is perhaps the biggest supporter of the Prime Minister abroad, and helps to bring in the crowds at his programmes overseas. “Wherever he (Modi) goes, he is able to connect with Indians. In Sydney, we told him we have Australian passports but whenever we want to visit India we need a visa, which takes time. He assured us of help, and within 10 days, announced the facility of electronic visa not just for Australia but for 40 countries. His programme in Sydney saw the biggest crowd ever,” says Ravi Kumar.

As it organises Indians abroad under the RSS banner, the HSS also creates a massive support base for the BJP. With the help of another RSS affiliate, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, HSS organises functions that are sometimes attended by the heads of those countries. As a lobby group, it works towards building the image of the Modi government abroad.

How does the HSS extend the ideological argument of the RSS?

Through the VSS, the RSS seeks to flex its Hindutva muscle globally. The HSS takes care not to overtly reject other (non-Hindu) cultures, and does not hesitate to sometimes appropriate successful Indians abroad as trophies of Hindu culture, even though some of these Indians may not agree with the RSS view of the world. This is a familiar manoeuvre — it is employed by RSS chief Bhagwat for example, who invokes Dr B R Ambedkar and Buddhist ideals, ignoring the fundamental contradiction between the RSS veneration of the Vedic culture and its rejection by both Ambedkar and The Buddha himself.

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    Neeraj
    Jan 11, 2016 at 2:44 am
    I heared that their charter says they are for the protection of brahmins and Jews only.
    Reply
    1. N
      Neeraj
      Jan 11, 2016 at 2:42 am
      Unless those brahmins have a pre-Aryan migration link with the Jews, there is no reason for them to protect Jews. Neither Jews depend on protection from brahmins.
      Reply
      1. S
        Scam
        Jan 11, 2016 at 2:47 am
        America Hindu Foundation!!!
        Reply
        1. N
          Neeraj
          Jan 11, 2016 at 2:39 am
          Else they want to hitch hike on jews to achieve their goal. I am so happy that Hinduism is being misused by those so called literate brahmin douche bags, like jihadists misusing Islam!!! Hinduism is no brahmin property. Don't forget why and how an island of East Bengal converted to Islam from Hinduism.
          Reply
          1. M
            Maitreyi
            Jan 11, 2016 at 3:31 am
            Wonder when onwards the Hindu terrorists group penetrated Vatican as put forth by by Sathish, the kicked out Deccan brahmin!
            Reply
            1. L
              LOL
              Jan 11, 2016 at 2:54 am
              Sorry, no Hindu is bothered about your BS. And please don't spread your CHADDIS overseas. People will think that you went there for manual scavenging like people believing RSS CHADDIS are Indian MANUAL SCAVENGERS WHO CLEAR UNDERGROUND BLOCKAGES WITH THEIR LATHIS!!!
              Reply
              1. M
                Mukul
                Jan 11, 2016 at 4:36 am
                20000 people from Sydney came to celebrate Diwali. The rumor monger claims that as if they are all Hindutwa supporters. Australian govt need to be informed to prevent Spread of Hindutwa terrorism there.
                Reply
                1. G
                  General-knowledge
                  Jan 11, 2016 at 3:33 am
                  istant butcher Amit Shah is not a Hindu himself. He is a Jian!
                  Reply
                  1. N
                    Namit
                    Jan 11, 2016 at 4:29 am
                    Sathish, if you had been raped, please go to police station! If you tell here how can anybody take action. And you police station is RSS head quarters.
                    Reply
                    1. R
                      Rajesh
                      Jan 12, 2016 at 9:08 am
                      Ha ha! Look at these pressutes over-analyzing something so simple. Vatican pedophiles have run missionaries for centuries and Mullahs use foreign organizations to spread their cult of jihad, but the pressutes are so concerned about what Hindus are doing.
                      Reply
                      1. R
                        Rajesh
                        Jan 12, 2016 at 9:09 am
                        Jain or Hindu, anything is better than pedophile Mohammed.
                        Reply
                        1. I
                          IslamForFooools
                          Jan 12, 2016 at 1:33 am
                          Better to be Hindu than a Disgusting filthy arab slave Muslim, media must be destroied for propogating islamisation and terrorism in the world against non muslims, that includes every channel int he world, like BBC, AL Jazeera, CNN USA, NDTV, CNN IBN, Hindustantimes, Indianexpress, TOI, India TV, AAj Tak, and many more major channels who take money from arabs and keep vixtimising non muslims and keep glorifying islam even when everyone knows ISLAM is rootcause of global terrorism including rape terrorism by Syrian muslims in EU recently. FK these editors in everyway possible people, they dont deserve to live dignified human life.
                          Reply
                          1. I
                            IslamForFooools
                            Jan 12, 2016 at 2:51 am
                            Long Live RSS and VSS. Hel be upon enemies of Hinduism like Burkha Dutt and all junk nurnos of india.
                            Reply
                            1. S
                              sham
                              Jan 11, 2016 at 10:23 am
                              first block all the purn sayits , medias and b grade movies floating on the internet
                              Reply
                              1. I
                                IslamForFoooools
                                Jan 13, 2016 at 5:23 am
                                Murdering jurnos on streets of india is only way ahead for hindus to survive. no Khan should be able to open the gutter of his/her mouth in Hindu land.
                                Reply
                                1. I
                                  IslamForFoooools
                                  Jan 13, 2016 at 1:14 pm
                                  Typical pedophile mohemmedi kuranic terrorist, the arab masters slave, thats what you non human enies muslims are
                                  Reply
                                  1. M
                                    mik
                                    Jan 11, 2016 at 11:13 am
                                    Hehe correct, he is jain don't eat all veg also but can make kill anybody whether he is Sohrabuddin or his wife of Kamlesh. But he is Jain.
                                    Reply
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                                      DR.P.L.NAWALKHA
                                      Jan 11, 2016 at 6:25 pm
                                      I am Terun swayamsevak of RSS -(1948-54) 1979 during my visit to UK and other European country,I found unimaginable hospitality with expression of faith in Hindutva among members of. BSS,now HSS.Salute to all HSS members
                                      Reply
                                      1. R
                                        Rajiv Pande
                                        Jan 11, 2016 at 9:59 pm
                                        This article is an attack on RSS and HSS in the garb of objective reporting. Read carefully and you will see the implied and subtle criticism. The word Hindutva itself is used by Indian media and sickulars in a derogatory manner. The writer has summed up his scathing attack in the last paragraph.
                                        Reply
                                        1. P
                                          Prem Sharda
                                          Jan 11, 2016 at 6:44 pm
                                          I'm impressed by the unbiased objectivity that I see in this article. If all newspapers adopt this policy as a habit then their credibility will be enhanced.
                                          Reply
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                                            David
                                            Jan 12, 2016 at 7:12 pm
                                            May the Vedic people rise again. Pranam Pranam Puniya Bhumi Bharat Varsh . Hindu Sanghatana is our survival.
                                            Reply
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