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Monday, April 13, 2009

Hindus have to assert their influence during election time

Polity should become nation-centric
For this, Hindus have to assert their influence during election time - Sarkaryavah Bhaiyaji Joshi


The Hindus do not believe in building pressure groups or vote-bank. But the influence of Hindu sentiment has to reflect in politics. Hindus should not be discriminated against because they don't assert politically.


Suave, soft-spoken, introspective and scholarly, the new Sarkaryavah of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi is essentially an organisation man. His keen interest and involvement with the social service activities of the Sangh is widely appreciated. Today, the Sangh runs the largest number of service activities in the country. His deep knowledge and study of the malaise afflicting the country's political life is reflected in the first interview as Sarkaryavah he gave to Organiser. He spoke about politics, priorities before the Sangh, role of Hindutva in politics, agriculture, food scarcity and developmental issues in this interview with Organiser Editor R Balashankar and Correspondent Pramod Kumar. Excerpts:

There have been reports in a section of the media claiming that the number of Sangh shakhas is declining and the involvement of youth is also decreasing. At the same time the media is ignorant about service activities being undertaken by swayamsevaks even in the remote areas where the government agencies do not wish to go. What do you say?
The claims that the number of Sangh shakhas is declining and the presence of youth is decreasing are baseless. Our experience is totally different. The number of youth joining the Sangh Shiksha Vargas every year is increasing. Many youth also come out as Sangh Pracharaks every year. It is for the media to take a holistic view. Otherwise it will put a question mark on its credibility. The role of media should be to educate the society and not to mislead them. It is a big question whether the media is today discharging its responsibility properly or not.

AS far as the service activities being undertaken by swayamsevaks are concerned, we feel it is not only the Sangh but many other people are also rendering yeoman's service to the needy people of the society. We feel that many social problems can be resolved through service activities. The objective of our service activities is not just to provide materialistic facilities to the people, but to infuse a feeling of self-respect into them. Today, the swayamsevaks run more than 1,50,000 service projects across the country. Still the media hesitate to highlight them. This is a fact that our work is not dependant on publicity. We have to work for the country and for our own needy brethren and we are doing this honestly.

The new Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat stressed the need for focussing on rural development in his speech in Nagpur. Is there any major planning of rural development on the part of the Sangh in coming days?
The Sangh is engaged in a variety of integrated rural developmental activities for the last 15 years and those activities have now started producing good results. Rural development is not the work to be done in one stroke. It is a long-term mission. Involving the villagers in such initiatives and instilling a feeling of self-respect into them is a very slow process and takes time as well as patience. The Sangh is working for developing at least one model village in every district of the country. Today, there are about 100 villages in the country where the villagers have done remarkable work of development and very good initiatives have been taken in more than 500 villages.

The politics has today become minority-centric and no political party thinks about Hindus. Secondly, ideology also appears to have lost significance in course of alliance politics. What do you feel?
It is not a healthy sign. It is very unfortunate that politics is becoming region based. The dominance of regional parties may prove costly for sovereignty and integrity of the country. The parties with national outlook should be effective and influential at the national level. Otherwise, who will think of national interest? We do not believe in the politics of Hindutva as Hindutva is not the subject matter of politics. It is above all political considerations. But we certainly expect that there should be a government in the country that protects the asmita of the Hindu society. The Hindu society should be vigilant of the challenges before it. The political parties today neglect the interests of the Hindus because they are divided. Uniting this divided Hindu society is the only solution.

The political parties clearly mention in their election manifestos what they will do for minorities but they never talk about Hindus like that. Comment.
It happens because the Hindus do not think of building pressure on political parties for protecting their concerns. The parties will accept it only when they feel that they would not get the support of Hindus if they continue to ignore their concerns. There is a need to build strong, effective and positive pressure of Hindu vote in political outcome. Today, even those who call themselves progressive or communist perform all Hindu karmkands. There is no dearth of ritualism. The CPM government in West Bengal observe Durga Puja. Not only that they give public holiday on Saraswati Puja and Durga Puja and leaders of all political parties participate in such celebrations. They participate in these celebrations because they want to please their voters. They cannot afford to ignore mass sentiment. But these very people oppose Saraswati Vandana and Vande Mataram in Delhi. They made such a ruckus about it when the NDA was in power. This is their double-speak. It is wrong to oppose the traditions of this land just to appease a particular section of the society.

Despite 60 years of Independence the picture of the country is still of an under-developed country. What is the reason?
We cannot say that there is no development. There has been development in many fields. There are achievements like atom bomb, Chandrayaan satellite and modern means of communication, which enhanced connectivity and the prestige of the country worldwide. It is true that the over-all results are not as encouraging as the people had expected. As far as materialistic development is concerned much has been done, but when we think about the security and availability of resources to majority of the people, the picture is unsatisfactory. Crores of rupees are earmarked for education and health care every year but the money is not utilised properly. Apart from formulating good policies, the system of governance should also be people-friendly.

Agriculture sector has been neglected in the country for the last many years. What do you think?
Agriculture has not been neglected rather the Agriculture Policy has been wrong. We have accepted paravalamban (dependence on others) for increasing production of foodgrains. This started in the name of green revolution. Production increased. But the regenerative quality of the soil was compromised. This was the policy flaw. We became dependent on others right from the day we followed the ‘green revolution’. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides followed the crossbreed seeds, which made the soil non-fertile after some time. This method of farming ruined our water resources too. There is a need to adopt ancient methods of farming in modern perspective. Our agriculture should be cattle based. There is a need to change the Agriculture Policy also. Organic farming experiments are now gaining respectability. This will help in changing the picture in agriculture sector.

Do you have any message for the voters for the coming elections?
Pujniya Sarsanghachalakji has said in the Pratinidhi Sabha that there should be hundred per cent polling. We do not think who votes for which party, but all people should exercise their constitutional right to elect a stable government weded to the best national interests.

What is the role of the Sangh in tackling the challanges of social tensions created by terrorism, political opportunism and corruption?
The Sangh has dealt in detail on these issues in the resolutions passed at the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha. The government has to deal with terrorism with an iron hand. For this, effective laws are needed. Though, there are already certain laws, they should effectively and honestly be implemented. We expect there should be no politics while dealing with terrorism as the matter is directly connected with the security of the country. At the same time the people of the country should also be vigilant. There are terrorist attacks one after another in the country but people forget them after some time. We want the people to be alert and help the government agencies in combating this menace.

The politics today is completely power-centric and the feeling of national interest has taken a back seat. Basically the political considerations stand in the way of dealing effectively with terrorism. What should be done?
Politics should not be power-centric. National interest should override all other considerations. The politics of appeasement is very dangerous. There are many manifestations of appeasement and the political parties think only of political gains. Since terrorism is an invasion on the nation it should not be viewed on the scale of vote politics. There should be no question of taking political mileage out of it. All the political parties should take a united stand against terrorism. They should rise above all political considerations. Instead of keeping an eye on vote bank, all political parties, whether small or big, should give preference only to the national interest.

People now-a-days vote under the influence of caste, money and muscle power. As a result many vital issues remain unaddressed. How long will it continue?
Unfortunately, the common man is not aware of the game plan of political parties, who try to entice them with false promises. The problems will continue till the political parties cater to narrow sectarian interests only for votes. Solution will come only when we strengthen the forces of unity and politics with mission.

The Sangh has its own way of working. The situation in the country is fast changing and new challenges emerge everyday. How should swayamsevaks face these challenges?
The method of working of the Sangh has adopted its own pace. The problems, which need solution at political level, have to be resolved at that level itself. The socio-cultural organisations like the RSS cannot take the responsibility. The people sitting in power have to solve them. People or organisations like ours can only help the government agencies. The government should develop a machanism to involve the citizens in these efforts.

Varun Gandhi is the only person from the Nehru-Gandhi family who publicly said that he feels proud of being a Hindu. But he has been charged with all sorts of allegations. Would you like to comment on it?
What Varun Gandhi said is due to the circumstances that have developed in the country today. The issue he raised should be taken seriously. The language he used may be improper, but his feelings are genuine. It also has to be seen in the context of the situation prevailing there.

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