The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) trademark khaki shorts will soon make way for dark khaki trousers. According to sources, a decision to this effect was taken during a meeting of the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the Sangh’s highest decision-making body, in Nagaur on Saturday.
Sources said the new trousers would be loose-fitting — like the loose-fitting shorts with which RSS volunteers have been associated for decades — so that swayamsevaks can perform yoga and surya namaskar. The rest of the uniform — white full-sleeved shirt with one pocket on the left, black cap, canvas belt, leather or rexine black shoes, and bamboo stick up to the height of the swayamsevak’s ears — will remain the same.
The ABPS is expected to fix the timeframe for implementation of the decision on Sunday.
The RSS officially denied any decision on the uniform, though its prachar pramukh Manmohan Vaidya told The Sunday Express that discussions were on. Sources at the ABPS gathering said that Sarkaryawah Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi made the announcement at a late evening meeting. Five swayamsevaks wearing the new uniform were paraded before the delegates. “Every delegate approved of the change by saying ‘om’, as they do with other proposals as well,” a source said.
Over the last six months, RSS leaders have been conveying to swayamsevaks across the country that their uniform (ganvesh) would change. As The Indian Express reported on November 4, 2015, in October that year prant pracharaks considered a new uniform during a meeting in Ranchi. At a meeting of over 270 vibhag pracharaks in Bhuj (Gujarat) in November last year, RSS leaders indicated that swayamsevaks should be prepared to adopt a new uniform.
The last change in the RSS uniform was in 2010, when the canvas belt replaced the leather one, but this decision is yet to be fully implemented and several swayamsevaks still wear old leather belts. From the inception of the RSS in 1925 till 1939, the Sangh had an all-khaki uniform, but in 1940, white shirts were introduced. Leather shoes replaced long boots in 1973 and later rexine shoes were allowed.