Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat has claimed that their organization can raise a combatant force in three days whereas it’ll take the Indian Army about six to seven months to prepare for a war. What can be better than this? The country will save on its defense expenditure. The disciplined patriotic volunteers of RSS will serve to defend the country with great commitment. The RSS should be given the task of making volunteers available for this cause. Now it is their government so Mohan Bhagwat should make a formal proposal.
We hear about the dedicated volunteers of RSS ever ready to sacrifice for the nation. However, before they can be asked to defend the country we must verify their credentials for bravery. Now there is no proof of the freedom struggle as RSS chose not to participate in it. The sole prominent person associated with RSS V.D. Savarkar who went to jail because of patriotic zeal was released when he tendered an apology to the British. Another person inspired by RSS ideology was Nathuram Godse who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, till date the most popular Indian and with whom India’s identity is associated globally. In 1992 when the political wing of RSS Bhartiya Janata Party was in power in Uttar Pradesh its volunteers demolished the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya which they had failed to do during Samajwadi Party’s rule three years earlier. People inspired by the RSS ideology were behind five incidents of bomb blasts in the country in which Lieutenant Colonel Srikant Purohit and retired Major Ramesh Upadhyay were also involved which shows RSS has already infiltrated the Army. Now when the BJP is in power at the center various vigilante groups motivated by the RSS thining attack and sometimes kill isolated people who are suspected to have participated in cow slaughter, of having consumed beef, are accused of indulging in Love Jihad or simply believe in an ideology which is critical of Hindutva. The common victims are mostly Muslims and Dalits while some intellectuals have also been targetted. People inspired by RSS ideology see bravery in these acts and sometimes they think they are serving the cause of nationalism when committing these crimes. When one of the accused in the case of murder by the mass lynching of Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri died his body was wrapped in tricolor. Now, these incidents do not inspire enough confidence that the security of the country could be handed over to the RSS.
On the other hand, there was an occasion when Pakistani terrorists held the country hostage for three days in Mumbai in November 2008 but RSS workers were conspicuous by their absence. If all the RSS volunteers along with Shiva Sena workers, who demonstrate ample aggression otherwise against people from north Indian states and non-Marathi speaking individuals, ready to take on anybody anytime, had come out in large numbers to storm the Taj Hotel the entire episode would have been over on the first day itself. However, RSS-Shiva Sena lost their only chance to exhibit real valor. Considering that RSS headquarter is in Maharashtra when the enemy invaded their home, it is inexplicable why the RSS workers were mere spectators? The Army which Mohan Bhagwat says will require six to seven months actually wound up the operation in three days including capturing one of the terrorists alive.
The politics of RSS produces unnecessary tension and violence which is harmful to us. Since Narendra Modi has become Prime Minister our relationship with Pakistan has deteriorated. There are more infringements from across the border. We were made to believe that India carried out some kind of decisive ‘surgical strike’ but our soldiers continue to be killed in attacks by militants or Pakistani security forces even after that. All we can do in response is kill some Pakistani soldiers or terrorists. Who benefits from these skirmishes except for the countries which sell arms to both India and Pakistan? India’s relationship with China is also not very friendly. But at the Chinese border, both sides take care that no soldier or civilian is killed on either side. It almost seems to be an unspoken, unwritten understanding.
It would have been better if instead of the exhibition of aggression by the RSS-BJP combine India would have achieved a similar understanding with Pakistan. What the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is saying about the need to talk to Pakistan is very commonsensical. If the Modi government would not make it a prestige issue and talk to Pakistani government it would save valuable lives of soldiers and civilians on both sides. When Narendra Modi decided he landed in Pakistan en route from Afghanistan. It didn’t appear to be an adversarial relationship between him and Nawaz Sharif. He participated in a private event of Nawaz Sharif’s family and even gifted a shawl to his mother. Now if Narendra Modi desires to have a friendly relationship with Nawaz Sharif why should not our soldiers be given a similar opportunity? It would be better to exchange gifts rather than fire across the border. And it entirely depends on the leadership of two countries as to what kind of relationship they want to have. If such a choice exists why not prefer friendship over enmity?
Narendra Modi has taken a commendable stand in favor of Free Palestine during his recent visit to West Asia. He has clearly sent out a message to Israel that India may be the largest buyer of Israeli arms but it doesn’t mean it’ll give up its commitment towards the idea of a free Palestine. He highlighted the need for a peaceful resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict. India-Pakistan conflict is of a very similar nature as that of Palestine-Israel. Incidentally, both problems have a history of the same duration and are the creation of British. If Narendra Modi thinks the resolution of Palestine-Israel tangle is possible through dialogue why is it not possible to adopt a similar approach in the case of India-Pakistan imbroglio?
Sandeep Pandey is an Indian social activist. Magsaysay Award recipient, Gandhian and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a co-founder of Asha for Education. He is a Former Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar.