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RSS: Stronger Presence & Wronger Vision || Midweek Matters 34 || Parakala Prabhakar

30-10-2021published_dt 2021-10-30T09:57:02.913Z30-10-2021 15:27:02 IST
2021-10-30T09:57:02.913Z30-10-2021 2021-10-30T09:57:02.913Z - - 18-01-2022

Hello and welcome

To Midweek Matters.

The Vijaya Dasami Address of the Sasanghchalak of RSS is an important annual event. His address to the would be citizens of the Hindu Rashtra that is in the making is supposed to be an occasion to guide them on how to think about the world around them. And provide them with an agenda for action on the movement's foundation day. For people like us who are beyond the pale, it offers a clue to its thinking, what is likely to inform its actions in the course of the next year, and equally importantly what it chooses to ignore from among the host of issues that bedevil India as a society and as a Republic. Today I’d like to spend my time sharing with you what I understood from this year's Vijaya Dasami address of the Sarsanghchalak. For this I rely on the English version of the text given by RSS in its portal. I have given the link to the document. I recommend that you read it. It’s worth your time. 

Although every aspect that the Sardanghchalak touched upon in his Vijaya Dasami address is of significance I will limit my observations mainly to 2 issues. Population Policy and Economy. The address has separate sections devoted to economy, fight against Covid and the Bharatiya view of health. It also has a section on the situation on our northwestern border. Issues such as price rise, rise in unemployment, rural distress, hauling of large amounts of drugs worth thousands of crores in the country, bodies of Covid dead floating in Ma Ganga, Chinese incursions into our territory, have not merited the Sarsanghchalak's attention.

In the section devoted to Population policy, the Sarsanghchalak begins his discourse with these words: "While reimagining the country’s development one predicament comes to the fore which appears to concern many. The rapid growth of the country’s population may give rise to many problems in the near future." 

It is clear that the country's population is not really rapidly growing. The latest round of National Family Health survey data show us that we have now more or less reached total fertility rate, TFR of 2.1. The Government of India's affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court late last year also clearly states that the country's TFR is at replacement level. So we do not know who are those many who appear concerned when there was actually no predicament. His actual intention, however, becomes clear when he quickly moves to quote at length from the 2015 resolution of the Akhil Bharatiya Karyakarrini Mandal held in Ranchi. The resolution noted:   "Vast differences in growth rates of different religious groups, infiltration and conversion resulting in religious imbalance of the population ratio, especially in border areas may emerge as a threat to the unity, integrity and cultural identity of the country." 

There are three elements in this resolution of the Karyakarini Mandal. One, vast differences in growth rates of different religious groups. Two, infiltration. Three conversion resulting in religious imbalance in the population ratio. The second one, infiltration is not a matter of population policy. It is a matter of securing our borders. Pure and simple. The first one is not a matter of debate or perception. We have reliable data to look at. The third one about conversion is something that we need to deal with from the perspective of religious freedom. Again strictly, it is not a matter of population policy. 

Therefore, let’s deal with the first one first, and then put the third one in some perspective. By measuring against the RSS' own oft repeated formulation with respect to the common ancestry of all Indians. For that one need not go and dig up the old records of its archives. I will show you passages from the current speech that will throw light on this. 


Let’s look at the first element: That there are vast differences in growth rates of different religious groups. We have data on Total Fertility Rate available since 1950. Total fertility rate is the average number of children delivered by women in their reproductive age. Here are the figures.

Please take a close look at them. The TFR was 5.9 in 1950. Stayed at 5.9 till 1956. Saw a slight, 0.1 decline in 1957. It stayed at 5.7 till 1965. Then the fall gathers momentum, slowly in the beginning but picks up pace as years roll by. In 1992 it touches 3.9, in 2002 it drops to 2.9. Today it stands at 2.179. Just a tiny bit above replacement level. 2.1 is the replacement level. Replacement level is simply defined as the stage where a woman gives birth to 2.1 children to replace the children's two parents, she and her husband. If it’s less than 2, evidently, population begins to contract leading to a complex web of problems. Unless the Sarsanghchalak is aiming at a TFR of less than 2.1, he has no cause for worry. He need not worry about the rapid growth of the country's population. Because there’s no such thing. 


Maybe he’s concerned about uneven TFR of Hindus and Muslims and is worried about the prospect of Muslims, by breeding more, outnumbering Hindus and thereby upsetting the cultural identity of the country. What do data tell us? According to the survey findings of the latest round of NaTional Family Health Survey, round five, NFHS-5, in every state, the TFRs of both Hindus and Muslims are steadily declining. The survey noted that TFR is higher among poor and less educated, irrespective of religion. No State, without exception, has shown either a stagnation or a reversal of the trend. The survey also noted that replacement level of fertility, that is, 2.1 has been achieved in 19 out of the 22 States/UTs and only 3 states Manipur with 2.2, Meghalaya with 2.9 and Bihar with 3.0 have TFR above replacement levels now. But in these states also the rates are only marginally high, and the trends are in decline. Survey in the rest of the states was halted because of pandemic.


Even in a state like Uttar Pradesh, the Sarsanghchalak has no cause for worry. Let’s see what the data from the state tell us. Between 2001 and 2011, Hindu TFR declined by 1.5 from 4.1 to 2.6. In the same period, Muslim TFR declined by 1.9 from 4.8 to 2.9. It shows clearly that the gap between Hindus and Muslims in TFR is rapidly closing. In 2001 it was 0.7 and by 2011 the gap came down to  0.3. The situation could have further improved between 2011 and now. The latest NFHS5 was not carried out in UP due to pandemic. When it is done the Sarsanghchalak will be benefitted by looking at them. But before that he might take a look at the affidavit submitted by the union government to the Supreme Court towards the end of 2020. In response to a PIL in the Supreme Court, seeking implementation of a two-child norm to check the country’s population the union government said that the country’s TFR is “witnessing a constant decline”. The affidavit further said India’s TFR is already down “substantially” to 2.2 as per the 2018 Sample Registration System. The Sarsanghchalak is either unaware of the data sets that are available in public domain, misguided by his advisers, or is deliberately mischievous to create fear among his gullible flock that the Hindu is in danger. 


Now let us address the Sarsanghchalak's concerns about conversions. I will give you two passages from his this year's address. Please note them. First one is as follows: 

"It is our culture to integrate Bharat’s varied linguistic, religious and regional traditions into a comprehensive unit and to promote mutual cooperation among all while accepting and honouring all as equal with identical opportunities for growth." 

The second one is this: "Every person is free to choose a way of worship she/he deems suitable for oneself. It is a historical fact that along with the foreign invaders many religious sects too came into our country. However, as of today, the followers of those sects are not related to the invaders of the past but to the Hindu ancestors who struggled to defend the country against those invaders."

The first passage tell us that the Sarsanghchalak believes in promoting cooperation among all religious traditions and honouring them with equal and identical opportunities of growth.

The second passage says that every person is free to choose a way of worship she/he deems suitable. And the followers of the different religious faiths are indeed related to Hindu ancestors. So if they’re all of the same ancestry but chose and are continuing to choose to follow a different way of worship, why should it bother the Sarsanghchalak? He also uttered this line just above the passage that I quoted: 

"We must dissolve the egoistic pride we derive from our parochial political, religious, caste-based, linguistic and regional identities." 

Did he really mean what he said? Or are all those words only uttered to sound lofty and serve to cover up an actual sinister intention to achieve a homogenous religious identity for the country? In any case, what does way of worship got to do with the nation's population policy? 


Let me briefly deal with the section 'Our Viewpoint on Economics." I must read out a part of it to give you an idea of what a perfect example of a woolly economic thought sounds like. Here it is: "Our economic paradigm emphasises control over consumption. The human being is a mere trustee of the material resources, not the possessor. It is deeply rooted in our belief system that human being is but a part of the creation and while it is his right to reap the resources that nature offers for his sustenance, it is also his responsibility to protect and preserve it. Such a view is not solitary or one-sided." 

Now this grand vision is promulgated with the belief that that the whole world is looking at Bharat for a new economic thinking. Here are the exact elements that contain that wisdom: 

"The whole world is now looking to Bharat, expecting and awaiting new parameters of economic system and development. Our distinct economic vision is evolved out of age-old national experiences of life and incorporating objects of economic pursuits thought about globally, wherein the source of bliss is said to be located within human consciousness. Material things are not the source of boundless bliss. Nor is bliss limited to physical pleasure. One that conceives of the body, mind, intellect and the soul as a whole; one that facilitates the process of realising that divine source of supreme knowledge through the balanced development of individual, collective and nature together; where the human spirit has experienced pinnacles of freedom by pursuing progress and pleasure bound by the principle of dharma or righteousness, such economic model has been considered ideal in our civilisation." 

That whole section gives us such priceless economic insights, I’d urge you to read it in full when you get time. Now, it is for the high priests sitting in the NITI Aayog to interpret this grand economic vision for our Finance Ministry and the various economic Ministries and for the entire union government so that all of them them may  draw up annual plans to realise it. 


The RSS today is a mighty organisation. It’s going to mark its centenary in four years, in 2025. It has the Republic's President, Vice President and the Presiding officer of the Upper House, the Speaker of the Lower House, a number of Union Ministers and parliament members, State level Ministers and legislators from its stable to show for its increasing hold on the country's polity. Its annual report Prativedan 2021 gives you an idea of the rise in its activities and expansion of its sphere of influence. From nowhere in our freedom struggle, standing aloof from it when actually not collaborating with the British, from the fringes of independent India's political and cultural landscape, with its hard work and dedication to the craft of unleashing the dark animal spirits in the nation's cultural and political spheres the RSS is now a dominant organisation. it has also been able to brand itself as a patriotic organisation despite its dubious past. While it grows stronger, it’s vision becomes meaner and Wronger! Maybe it couldn’t be otherwise.


That’s all for this week

Will be back again next week, Wednesday

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