RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat addressed the Sangh’s main Dussehra Day celebration in Nagpur, a highlight of the Sangh’s calendar, on Wednesday.
With the RSS founded at Nagpur on Dussehra in 1925, the Sangh sarsanghachalak lays out the outfit’s vision on various issues of national importance at this annual event. While the main function with the sarsanghachalak is at Nagpur, RSS shakhas hold their own functions, including shastra puja (worshipping of weapons). For the first time this year, a woman, mountaineer Santosh Yadav, was the chief guest at the event.
The five themes of Bhagwat’s speech:
Bhagwat said fears had been spread about the RSS. “We do not want to conquer others. We just don’t want to be conquered and so we seek strength… But people scare, ‘arrey Sangh wale marenge (RSS people will beat us up)’… ‘The Hindu Sangathan will kick everyone out’.”
He added that “because of this fear, some members of the minority community have been meeting us”, and while it was “not new”, the Sangh wanted to continue it. “This spirit has been present since the time of Doctor saab (RSS founder K B Hedgewar)… This is increasing, and it is our wish that it continues to do so.”
Bhagwat also welcomed members of the minority community coming forward to condemn incidents in Udaipur and Amaravati (where suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s remarks on the Prophet triggered violent protests). “It doesn’t happen always, but this time some prominent people from even the Muslim community opposed it… This should not be an exception,” he said, contrasting it to how “the Hindu society is outspoken in such matters, even when the accused is a Hindu”.
“Everyone must become like that. No matter what the provocation, one must stay in the limits of the law and the Constitution… No one’s shraddha (faith) should be hurt.”
Bhagwat also reiterated that all the people of the country belonged to it. “The idea that we are not of Bharat and we need a separate place is a wrong thought.”
Bhagwat said the country needs to “think about population”. “How many people can our country feed after 50 years?… What kind of education and healthcare can we provide…”
While underlining that even going the strict China way has its consequences — “When population stops increasing, societies disappear, languages disappear” — the RSS chief said a balance was needed. “Birth rate is only one part of this imbalance. But conversion by force and allurement is the biggest factor. Infiltration from across the border also is responsible.”
Calling for “a comprehensive population control policy”, Bhagwat underlined that “it should apply to all equally, and once it is put in motion, no one should get any concessions”.
Bhagwat said one needs to bust the “myth” that knowing English is required for a good career. “If we see all the top people in the country, almost 80% of them have studied in their mother tongue till matriculation.”
He added: “Until parents keep teaching their children that the aim of their lives is to study, whether they like it or not, what can earn them good money, we will not have cultured and responsible citizens in the country. They will just become money-making machines.”
Listing the women who have been part of RSS events, Bhagwat said a society cannot exist without both men and women. “This is the Indian philosophy.” “So the work of nation building is done by different sets of organizational units for men and women, but in all social work (taken up by the Sangh), men and women work together.”
He regretted society “limiting their (women’s) sphere of activity”, adding: “… when foreign invaders came, these restrictions got legitimacy… We either lock them in the prayer room, or brand them as second class and shut them in the house… We need to make them active by giving them equal rights in the domestic and public sphere and independence in decision making.”
Welcoming the fact that India is “becoming better and self-reliant” on national security, Bhagwat took up the concept of atma nirbhar. “… the path of progress is not simple and easy… So, one has to maintain flexibility… On the way we will face obstacles. The first obstacle is ourselves. This comes from conservatism… The idea is not to leave our core values, but build on them according to the times.”
Bhagwat said there are “forces inimical to India’s progress”, who do not want brotherhood and harmony. “In the name of caste, community and even their interests, they come to us as our well-wishers. We don’t have to get into their trap… We will have to associate ourselves with whatever efforts the administration makes in neutralizing them.”