Wednesday, October 5, 2022

RSS in hill states in North East India

RSS is penetrating all the hill states in North East India. Our birth rights, democratic rights – our freedom, identity and faith – in which India is built must be protected. We are proud to be Indians because we believe in freedom and liberty. It is the duty of every citizen to safeguard pluralistic society of our country.
Except in Mizoram, RSS is growing very fast all over NE states. Arunachal Pradesh is a tribal-dominated hill state where RSS is active today with the help of BJP Govt. in the state. In the name of social welfare schemes, people’s confidence and acceptance levels on RSS are increasing. Despite its usual opposition, the growing number of shakhas (daily meets) in all important parts of Arunachal Pradesh indicates the increasing footprint of the RSS in the state. “Arunachal Pradesh has 36 shakhas and 50 units each of milan (weekly meet) and mandali (monthly meet)”, the pranta pracharak said. This is a significant penetration in a state with a population density of only 17 people per square kilometer as per Census 2011. The RSS-affiliated organization, Seva Bharati, even ran free coaching for subjects like mathematics, while free orientation classes for civil services in January 2017 attracted 700 students. “28 Vidya Bharati English medium schools are running in the state”, Mohanty said.
In Manipur, though there are 107 shakha active, Rajkumar felt that the growth of the RSS in the state has been essentially slow. “RSS in Manipur is not progressing very fast. It is an ongoing process. Slowly people from different strata of society are showing some interest in the organization. But the problem is some are coming in purely for political gains,” he said. Compared to the Meitei-dominated valley districts where Hindus dominate the demography, the
RSS is finding it tough to establish itself among the Christians. However, institutions like the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and Eklavya Vidyalaya are gradually earning appreciation from the Christian community for their educational work. The Eklavya Vidyalaya also conducts tutorials for students free of cost. These two institutions are also working among the tribals”, Rajkumar said. With a BJP government in power in Manipur, RSS presence is growing.
The RSS started operations in Meghalaya when the first shakha (daily meet) was set up in 1946 under Vasantrao Oak in Shillong. “After 1985, we started working for the Garos, Jaintias, and Khasis. We also run programmes for the Hajong and Koch communities which are plain tribes. Then, there are medical camps and educational aid that the Seva Bharati provides. We run medical camps in 1,000 Meghalaya villages. Currently, there are 50 schools in all 11 districts of the state”, RSS organizing secretary Khasi Hills Pravin Shewale, told. It is evident that the RSS and the BJP seek to build a solid foundation in the state. “We have over 6,000 swayamsevaks (volunteers) across the state. So we are concentrating on forming committee down to the block level”, Shewale said. There are 46 shakha, 30 milan (weekly meet) and 35 mandali (monthly meet) in Meghalaya. Although the Census 2011 puts Hinduism as the majority religion in Tripura, with 83.40 percent followers, it was ruled by Communist Party for many decades. Despite its presence since 1956, it is only now that the RSS is creating some impact in Tripura.
Things are gradually changing, and now Tripura has around 130 shakhas (daily meets), around 30 milan (weekly meet), and around 30 mandali (monthly meets). In addition, 200-250 schools are run in the state by RSS-affiliated organizations like Sanskar Kendras. There are hostels as well, said RSS prachar pramukh for Tripura Manoranjan Pradhan.
“The organization does not have a strong presence in Nagaland mainly because of Christianity, although some Bharat Sevashram Sangha schools are running in the state. Christian students attend these schools”, said Shankar Das RSS prasar pramukh for the North East. Owing to these barriers in reaching out to the people, the RSS took out a leaf from history to make their work easier in the state. “We have invoked Rani Ma Guidinliu, who was a freedom fighter and a Padma Bhushan winner. She was known for her opposition to religious conversions that were taking place in Nagaland then and was a staunch nationalist.
The Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram tried to popularize her work across the country to establish a connection with the Naga people. Her followers have set up the Zeliang Rong Heraka Association in her memory, which is also a Hindu organization”, Das said.
The association is linked to the RSS and runs hostels for students in Dimapur, the state’s business capital. However, the organizational weakness of the RSS in Nagaland is evident from the fact that, as of today, it has only two shakha running in Dimapur. The RSS, which would include the BJP for that matter, has not tried to impose the beef ban, particularly in Nagaland and some Christian-dominated states of North East seen otherwise in the rest of the country. For many tribes living in Nagaland, Beef forms an important part of the diet. This approach by the two organizations has helped them maintain a cordial relationship with the region’s people, particularly in a state like Nagaland. With the BJP coalition Govt. in Nagaland, the BJP leadership is trying take road in the state in the name of development, Naga political solution and economic schemes. We see that RSS is attempting to penetrate the NE states through education. This is a systematic strategy to inculcate Hindutva ideology among the youth. Education is essential for change, and, ironically, RSS has used this medium through meticulous planning to further its ideology. Education is to make a citizen for nation builder, not a religious fanatic. Thus, the church, which has many educational institutions under its control, can respond through education on secular values, upholding the constitutional principles of liberty, fraternity and equality.
Dr. S. Akatoli Chishi