As highrise residential buildings increase in metros across the country, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has decided to knock on doors of apartments in major cities to expand its footprint. The exercise is aimed at starting shakhas and running social programmes in apartment societies in the near future.
To this end, the RSS has decided to appoint “apartment pramukhs” in such residential societies in major cities including Delhi, Noida, Bangalore, Lucknow, Agra, Meerut and Gurgaon. In Delhi alone, the RSS has identified at least 50 societies, particularly in areas like Saket and Rohini, where apartment pramukhs will fan out.
An apartment pramukh will be an RSS worker — usually a gata-nayak or a grassroots worker looking after shakhas. The gata-nayak will identify “like-minded” people living in apartments, through whom the gata-nayak will hold group meetings with other residents.
Incidentally, the RSS has also found that several of its own workers reside in such apartments in major cities, which will make communication easier.
The gata-nayaks is expected to hold weekly and monthly meetings with locals and talk to them about the RSS, its ideology and its opinion on contemporary issues. The worker will also have to convince people to take part in shakhas within the premises of local residential society.
RSS All India Prachar Pramukh, Arun Kumar confirmed the role of apartment pramukhs. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “We realised that since apartments also were separate units, shakha should be organised there also and we should reach every apartment.”
According to 2011 Census data, there were 7,935 towns in 2011 as compared to 5,161 towns in 2001. Also, urban population accounted for 31.16 per cent of the total population or 377 million people, an increase by 3.35 per cent compared to 2001.
While Delhi (97.5 per cent) had the highest proportion of urban population, Maharashtra recorded the highest urban population of 50.83 million or .5 per cent of country’s urban population in the 2011 Census.
Sources said that the RSS also analysed vertical development in urban areas and found that they have increased in every city and that a sizeable chunk of a city’s population lives in residential high-rises. Sources also said that such societies had remained inaccessible to the RSS and its activities. “Also, educated and intellectual sections reside in apartments and their opinion on various issues matters a lot to society. But they are cut off from others and are centralised within the premises and the RSS too cannot reach them,” said an RSS functionary.
He added that the various activities of the RSS like shakhas and other mass contact programmes were so far limited to old residential colonies, hamlets in suburban areas and in villages. The RSS has also formed a “basti” unit – where the population is about 10,000.
According to Kumar, apartment pramukhs will be part of the exercise to connect society with each other. “Since apartments are a new concept in society and a large number of apartments are being built in cities, it has been decided that an apartment be considered a single unit and that shakhas should be started there. For that purpose, apartment pramukh will be there,” he said.
The RSS plans to hold shakhas in apartments regularly, but sources said daily shakhas were not possible given the busy schedule of residents, so weekly shakhas will be organised over the weekend. An apartment pramukh will also ensure that festivals like Raksha Bandhan, Guru Purnima and Makar Sankranti among others – which RSS celebrates annually – are celebrated with public participation so residents meet each other at least once a month.
Sources in the RSS Delhi unit said workers will fan out across the region in June to increase the readership of Organiser and Panchjanya, which are considered mouthpieces of the RSS. An RSS functionary said that swayamsevaks will visit residential areas including apartments with copies of both weeklies so people in the society can read the views of RSS on prevailing social, political and other significant issues. Mayur Vihar, Saket, ITO, Janakpuri are few examples among the areas which have been identified for this exercise.