Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had a closed door meeting with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its 29 affiliated organisations on August 23, 2018. It was decided during the meeting that Akhil Bhartiya Rashtriya Shaikshik Mahasangh (ABRSM) would set up units in all the educational institutes right from the primary level to the college level.
The meeting that was held – at Swami Ramtirth Ashram near Kuthal Gate in Dehradun – to discuss the issues like, “better coordination between different saffron organisations and the State government”, according to The Pioneer.
The meeting also focused on efforts to free the state from the “anti-national” elements reflected on “public awareness programmes” in this regard, of the organisations present in the meeting. The members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Sewa Bharati, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Krida Bharati, Devbhumi Vichar Manch, Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, Vishwa Ayurveda Parishad, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Rashtriya Shaikshik Mahasangh and Vidhya Bharati, and others were present.
This, however, is not the first time that the RSS is seen meeting the elected representatives and a BJP government. RSS has various departments: the social work wing, the education wing and the body that deals with the ideological issues. Its cadre functions in all these departments. Representatives of these departments, since 2014, are seen directly involved in various decision-making processes, and also in policy-making.
For example, RSS Joint General Secretary Krishna Gopal had chaired a meeting on May 28, 2018, in New Delhi, to discuss the government programmes and policies. The BJP Vice President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, General Secretary Ram Madhav and Secretary Ram Lal; Union ministers Rajyavardhan Rathore (information and broadcasting), JP Nadda (health), Maneka Gandhi (women and child development), Mahesh Sharma (culture), Prakash Javadekar (education) and Thawar Chand Gehlot (social justice), represented the government in the meeting, and met the representatives of the various departments of the RSS.
ABRSM is one of the units of RSS’s ‘Shiksha Samooh’ (education group). Vidya Bharti, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Rashtriya Shaikshik Mahasangh, Bhartiya Shikshan Mandal, Sanskrit Bharti and Shiksha Bachao Andolan constitute this Samooh or group. ABRSM is an organisation of teachers “imbued with Indianness with an aim to propagate the ideology of Cultural Nationalism in the field of education and society.” According to their website, it is an independent organisation which is inspired by the “hoary culture”. It also claims that no political party “can control or direct” it, but they can “influence them if necessary.”
The decision to have units of the RSS front in all the educational institutions proves yet again that the RSS under the BJP regime has started to function more openly. Education has been a favourite target of the Hindutva outfit. One can see, the states ruled by the BJP are increasingly opening up for RSS’s direct involvement in the educational institutions. The state of Haryana, headed by a former RSS Pracharak, Manohar Lal Khattar, has announced that the state would provide free land to the Gurukuls, which along with providing free education for children, would impart moral values, and teach yoga and patriotism. The RSS has always opposed the current, modern education systems in the country, claiming that these systems are based on ‘Western’ values. Setting up units of ABRSM, which believes in these very principles, is a move towards saffronisation.