OPINION | 'New Normal' as the RSS Sees it in the Post-Coronavirus World

Rajiv Tuli
·4 min read

This year Vijaydashami function held in Nagpur was special where the Sanghchalak talked significantly about the “new normal”. First time in the history of RSS, no chief guest and general public was invited for the programme. And this was emphasised by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in his speech too.

In his speech this year, which is considered to be guiding spirit for the Sangh and organisations inspired by it, while discussing huge spectrum of issues he primarily focused on four issues. Corona, its effects and behaviour of our society irrespective of caste, creed and religion, Hindutva, family values, misadventure by China on Bharatiya borders and Swadeshi.

“Bharat stood strong in the face of Corona and dealt with the calamity effectively. Our governing and administrative agencies promptly sprung up in action cautioning citizens, creating emergency task forces and efficiently implemented control measures.”

Many of our traditional habits pertaining to cleanliness and hygiene, healthy lifestyle and strengthening immunity with the science of Ayurveda also proved to be useful in the fight against Corona, he said. He also appreciated the effort put in by women, NGOs, municipal workers, medical practitioners, media and government in combating the pandemic.

The way Bharatiya forces and citizens responded to aggression by Chinese army on borders also found mention in the speech along with the way forward in Indo-China relations. “Rising above China economically and strategically. Securing cooperative ties with our neighbours and at international relations is the only way to neutralise the expansionist aspirations of China and our present policies seem to be charting those very horizons”. He has been long trying to define Hindutva or Hinduness in his speeches.

Its meaning has been distorted by appending a ritualistic connotation to it. Sangh does not use it to refer to this misconception. To us, it is the word expressing our identity along with the continuity of its spirituality based traditions and its entire wealth of value system in the land of Bharat. Therefore Sangh believes that it is the word applicable to all the 1.3 billion people who call themselves the sons and daughters of Bharatvarsh”. Swadeshi is one such word which is often discussed nowadays. The ‘Swa’ or ‘self’ here refers to the same Hindutva. That very eternal philosophy underlying our tolerant and accepting nature which was hailed by Swami Vivekananda on the land of America referring to all people as brothers and sisters, meaning parts of a single unit or family. RSS ideologue and founder of largest labour organisation, Dattopant Thengdi defined swadeshi as “Swadeshi cuts beyond goods and services and stands for attaining a position of international cooperation by achieving national self- reliance, sovereignty and parity.

So to achieve financial independence in the future and attain a position of international cooperation we are open to foreign investors and give relaxations to companies offering newer technologies, provided they engage on our terms and mutually agreeable conditions. But such a decision has to be based on mutual consensus”. Emphasis should be on attaining the self reliance in industry as well as agriculture. Farmers should have freedom of growing and storing seeds for themselves. Also procuring fertilisers locally and selling whatever he grows without falling in any trap. Locally done Research and new technologies should be made available.

Our culture and civilisation have survived due to family system and values. The consciousness that has prevailed in the aftermath of corona, viz, realisation of the true meaning of ‘self,’ spirit of oneness with all the people, the importance of cultural values and environmental awareness plus the need for remedial actions to restore its balance should not be disregarded by our society. We must not drop the momentum, lose sight of these indispensable values and fall back in a pattern of insensitive behaviour. Starting with small incremental changes, conducting regular awareness initiatives can cause this behavioural shift. Once a week all family members can get together to jointly do some prayer and have homemade food followed by two to three hours of informal discussion.

The above-mentioned subjects can be deliberated in those discussions as actionable items and small family level resolutions can be taken, which can further be reviewed in the next week’s discussion. The act of discussion in the family is paramount, newness or oldness of the subject/object notwithstanding, the outcomes of an investigation alone decide the usefulness and relevance of the issue. Sangh runs an activity by the name of “Pariwar Prabodhan” (family exhortation), where the family is supposed to sit at least once a week together and discuss various issue concerning family and establish a communication channel. “In the beginning, matters of common concerns like domestic arrangements, design of the dwellings, our family culture, long-standing customs and traditions can be discussed. Owing to everyone’s familiarity with environmental concerns, ways for total boycott of plastic, water conservation, increasing green cover by planting saplings of flowering plants, fruit trees and vegetables in our courtyards and terraces can be discussed and actionable plans jointly created. According to the time available and the needs, all of us spend money over personal and familial requirements every day,” he said.

The author is a member of the Delhi State RSS executive. Views expressed are personal.