Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Rise and Rise of the RSS

The biggest network, numerically, of volunteer cadres in India currently is that of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or the National Volunteer Organisation which was set up in 1925 by K.B. Hegdewar in Nagpur in Maharashtra to promote a strong Indian nation rooted in the ideology of Hinduism. Hindus have a religion but it is of many sects and involving many Gods. Shankaracharya in the early 9th century C.E. had been the first to give a unified coherent form to the various philosophical and religious threads that make up Hinduism and also institutionalise it through the establishment of Maths or seminaries. Shankaracharya wrote commentaries on the early philosophical texts of the Hindus and made them more accessible thus rejuvenating the spiritual tradition as opposed to the ritualism of day to day Hindu religious practice. However, even after this the followers of Hinduism remained a diverse if numerous lot. Then in the early twentieth century Vivekananda set up the Ramakrishna Mission to once again stress the philosophical and spiritual roots of Hinduism and Dayanand Saraswati too did something similar with Arya Samaj. These were, however, essentially religious movements and did not have a political thrust. The RSS on the contrary had from the beginning a political agenda centred around the creation of a Hindu Rashtra or Hindu Nation with Hindus controlling state power to end the control of state power in India by followers of other religions since the days of the Delhi Sultanate in the early 13th century.
Thus, once India became independent the RSS set up a political party in 1951 to contest elections and gain State power named the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. This party later became in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which came to power in India as the head of a coalition government in 1998 and has now come to power with a simple majority of its own in the recently held parliamentary elections. Throughout the period from 1951 to the present there has been a continuous inflow of RSS members into the Jana Sangh and the BJP and most of its top political leaders like Atal Behari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani and the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi were all full timer workers of the RSS early in their careers. They are all active participants in the programmes of the RSS as is clear from the picture below which shows Advani taking part in a parade of the organisation.
 The RSS is a hierarchical organisation run by full timers of whom the Pracharaks work at the grassroots level and then there are Pramukhs or leaders at higher levels right up to the Sarsanghchalak who is the head of the organisation headquartered in Nagpur. The organisation has Shakhas or community organisations at the grassroots level which conduct various activities ranging from ideological indoctrination to combat training, the last performed in the uniform of Khaki shorts and white shirt with caps as shown in the picture above. The Pracharaks are committed people who live extremely frugally and in addition to them there are others also who too live very simply and work part time. There is a larger membership of sympathisers of the RSS who contribute to the organisation through support in the form of time and money. Thus, in organisational form the RSS is very much like a Communist party but the ideology is different. The crucial difference in ideology of course is that apart from the stress on the creation of a Hindu nation it also promotes capitalism. In fact right from 1951 what has kept the political thrust of the RSS going, through thick and thin is its espousal of capitalism which has got it support from the capitalists and capitalism oriented middle and upper classes. This is an important aspect of the RSS-BJP relationship that needs to be underlined to understand their success.
The RSS wants to establish the Hindu Rashtra. However, in the modern context of nation states controlled by capitalist oligarchies it is not possible to establish a nation state without going along with the capitalists. That is why the RSS took a conscious decision to keep its ideology of Hindu ascetism and voluntarism only within its organisation while within the BJP, its political outfil, through which it was to get control of the Indian nation state, it adopted the ideology of neo-liberal capitalism and sought the support of the capitalists to win the elections and then indulge in corrupt governance. In the process within the BJP it has been able to assimilate many intellectuals from the centre and the left who may not be so enamoured of its Hindu ascetism and its Hindu nationalism but feel that it can operate as a liberal democratic party. Within social movements like ours, however, we are not prepared to make compromises and would like to stick to our ideals even in our day to day political practice and that is why we are marginal both in terms of mass following and in terms of resource mobilisation.
The RSS has built up not only the BJP but also many other civil society organisations involving ethnicities, castes, gender, labour, youth, farmers, children and even indigenous science. There are today lakhs of Pracharaks and millions of sympathisers of the organisation and they all put in hard work at various levels to further the goal of the establishment of a Hindu society controlled by a Hindu State. The RSS continually contacts people working for the society in various other organisations to become its members.We have seen in Alirajpur in particular and western Madhya Pradesh in general how over the past thirty years the RSS has built up its membership among the Bhil Adivasis with a plethora of civil society organisations staffed by dedicated full timers living and working very simply and sometimes poached from organisations like ours. We have lost many of our cadres to the RSS. So while mass organisations like ours have only a limited footprint extending to about thirty to forty villages the RSS has covered the whole region with members in each village. The main reason for this spread of the RSS as opposed to our marginalisation is the resources that it has at its command. These resources come from its capitalist supporters and from the BJP which has come to power since the early 1990s in various states and at the centre and so has access to state funds. In all elections from the Panchayats to the Parliament the full timers and the sympathisers of the RSS work over time to campaign for the candidates and also provide them with funds.
There came a time at the turn of the century when the RSS in Alirajpur decided that the KMCS was a hindrance to its spread in the thirty to forty villages in which our organisation was working because try as they might they could not buy out a majority of our cadre and so began threatening our workers. This was the time when the KMCS was severely strapped for funds because there was no external funding and also the contributions from the members was dwindling. So to withstand the RSS onslaught the KMCS had to access funding from outside in various ways and that is how it has still maintained itself against the RSS in its small area of work. But if it wants to the RSS can wipe us out very easily by using State power.
The RSS is consequently a well organised set up with extensive capitalist funding which has systematically sought State power so that it can establish a capitalist Hindu Rashtra. Even if on the face of it the new government in India is led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi the influence and the background planning and implementation of the RSS has to be taken into account. We, in the social movements for the establishment of a socially and economically just and environmentally sustainable society will have to chalk out strategies to counter this capitalist and sectarianist juggernaut with our limited resources. A daunting task!!!  

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