See RSS, Think
By Subhash Gatade
22 August, 2005
RSS may call itself a cultural organisation, but an established US think
tank has virtually equated it with Al Queda and some other outfits,
terming them "new religious movements (NRMs) that have also emerged
as sources of violence". ..
The report titled
"Exploring Religious Conflicts" says "NRMs can be found
in Hinduism (the RSS), Israel ( Gush Emunim), Christianity ( the US
based identity movement) and Islam, including Al Queda, a global network
with a transcendent vision that draws support in the defence of Islam"...
For the RSS, the adverse comment comes close on the heels of the Virginia
based Terrorism Research Centre (TRC) declaring it a terrorist organisation
and lumping it with a number of Jihadi and secessionist outfits.( Report
by S. Rajagopalan, Hindustan Times, delhi, dated 11 th August 2005)
The recent report
on 'religious conflicts' by the US think tank RAND Corporation has definitely
brought a fresh spate of bad news for the beleagured RSS which is passing
through one of its worst crisis since its inception. Ruthlessly tearing
apart its well cultivated and projected image that it is a 'cultural
organisation' the said report virtually equates it with Al Queda and
some other outfits, terming them "new religious movements (NRMs)
that have also emerged as sources of violence".
Labelling the RSS
as "an ultra Hindu nationalist movement" it clearly states
that the RSS espouses a "strong and militant religious philosophy
based on exclusivity and hate", blames it for violence directed
at Muslims and Christians and reiterates that it remains a threat to
the idea of India as a secular state.
For the RSS, the
report has been so devastating that despite a section of the media going
public with the inferences of the study and its critics raising the
temperatures further, none of the media savvy spokespersons of the Parivar
have dared to comment on it. It appears that the Sangh bosses have preferred
to adopt the much tested maun vrata a vow of silence over this. Looking
at the genesis of this study which has emanated from a conservative
think tank which is very close to the US establishment , the maun vratam
seems to be the best option before them.
Gone are the days
when the RSS and its men, which are part of the plethora of organisations
which it has built, were patting themselves on their backs for effecting
a paradigm shift in its relation vis-a-vis the USA. Now forget paradigm
shift, within a span of a few months this is the third time in a row
that the Parivar and its men have received rebukes either at the hands
of the US establishment itself or through those institutions/peoples
who are working closely with it. It was only last September that the
Virginia based 'Terrorism Research Centre' a leading think tank specialising
in terrorism studies with due help from the US government, declared
RSS as a terrorist organisation and lumped it with a number of Jihadi
and secessionist outfits. The first quarter of this year witnessed the
denial of visa to Narendra Modi, the poster boy of the Sangh Parivar
which rather stopped him from going to US for luring Non resident Gujaratis
to invest in the state. And now comes the RAND study which tells us
to have a relook at the commonalities between RSS and Al Qaeda and the
danger they like many of their ilk present before humanity.
Formally the RAND
Corporation may call itself a '..nonprofit institution that helps improve
policy and decision making through research and analysis' but nobody
can deny the umbilical chord which unites it with the US establishment.
A product of the cold war competition with USSR and founded in the period
of Mccarthysim in US polity when intellectual witch hunt was at its
peak, the institution has down the years carved out a niche for itself
as a very reliable conservative 'thinktank' for the US establishment.
May it be the Korean war or for that matter the Vietnam (mis)adventure
of the USA or the present preoccupation of the Bush led establishment
towards 'war against terror' RAND's policy recommendations have been
reflective to service to power and in the most recent period has turned
its attention to bring about a reformation in the Muslim world.
A mere perusal of
the present study 'Exploring Religious Conflicts' makes it clear that
it is basically a summary of the workshops hosted by the RAND National
Security Research Division with due financial help from the CIA. The
introduction makes it clear that it has been undertaken to 'assess religious
motivations in international politics, what may cause violence with
religious roots and how states have sought to take advantage or contain
religious violence.' Looking at the mess in which the US finds itself
today especially in middle east, a mess of its own making, the present
study suggests some ways out. There is no denying the fact that the
bulk of the 84 page report brought out by RAND is mainly focussed on
this present preoccupation of the US establishment namely the 'war against
terror' or Islamic extremism.
funded directly by the CIA, the conclusions of the study are at variance
with the way the Bushes, Cheneys or the Rumsfields have viewed the unfolding
situation before them. The world very well knows how the neo cons have
reformulated rules of US engagement in world politics and have discovered
the rule of 'preemptive strike' supposedly to contain the 'rogue states'.
The present study frankly states that the use of military force to combat
cosmic war could be counter productive. It cautions the US from even
aspiring to the military destruction of the opponent, even in the long
run. It advises the U.S. policymakers to try to adjust their mental
map of relations with the Islamic world from one based on a historic
sense of conflict to thinking of relationships along a continuum
that encompasses a wide range of issues.
It is worth noting
that while the present report suggests restraint, two of the earlier
reports brought out by RAND very much resonate with the neo cons thinking.
The report issued in March 2004 entitled "Civil Democratic Islam
: Partners, Resources and Strategies" written by some Cheryl Benard
recommended a civil war among the various parts of the Muslim community
with a hope that the end result will be that those who support the US
world view would prevail through its help. The 600 pages report issued
in December 2004 entitled US strategy in the Muslim World after
9/11 suggests that Sunni, Shiite and Arab, non-Arab divides should be
exploited to promote the US policy objectives in the Muslim world.
Ofcourse to put
the things in proper perspective the study under discussion namely 'Exploring
Religious Conflicts' also discusses similar 'potential new religious
movements (NRMs), even violent ones, apart from those spawned by Islamic
radicalism.' and notes that if Islam has its Al Qaeda, Christianity
has US based identity movement, Jews have Gush Emunim and Hinduism has
its RSS ( Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). According to the study ".Sometimes
referred to as cults, NRMs have two defining characteristics
a high degree of tension between the group and its surrounding society
and a high degree of control exercised by leaders over their members.
There is a discernible proliferation of NRMs across the global landscape.
While they have gotten most attention in the richer countries, they
are found everywhere, including countries of the Third World and the
Coming to the RSS
the ultra Hindu nationalist movement it says it "..[e]spouses a
strong and militant religious philosophy based on exclusivity and hate.
After the assassination of Gandhi in 1948, the movement was banned for
a few years by the Indian government because of its acts of violence
and terrorism and its exhortation to followers to resort to terrorist
methods in the promulgation of its religious ideas. In the 1990s, under
the government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its role and
influence in India grew and continues to grow even today. During the
BJPs tenure in political office....the RSS continued to gain momentum
and was engaged in violence, particularly against what it viewed to
be threats against the Hindu state, namely Muslims and Christians. .."
For layperson it
may appear incomprehensible this sudden 'dawning of wisdom' upon the
western world especially the USA vis-a-vis RSS. It may appear puzzling
to them that why till date sharing the vision of 'anti communism' as
a glue the US and its think tanks have suddenly woken up to the danger
the RSS presents to India's secular state.
The reasons are
not far to seek. But before delineating the possible reasons one needs
to note that these changes in the evaluation of the RSS vis-a-vis US
establishment are of a short term nature. Strategically speaking the
USA has always looked towards the RSS as a force which can counterbalance
the communist forces in the unlikely event that the democratic experiment
fails in India prompting greater intervention by the reds in the polity.
One can remember the early 50s study of the Communist Movement in India
done by Overstreet and Windmiller which was done at the behest of the
CIA where they had even put forward this hypothesis and had underlined
that RSS would act as a bulwark against the Communist movement.
- The need for tactical
or short term changes in the evaluation of the RSS has arisen because
of the Iraq-Afghanistan imbroglio where the USA finds itself in a mess
of its own making. As the present study makes it clear that the "..[U]S
foreign policy in the Middle East, particularly its strong and unswerving
support of Israel and its current war against terrorism and Islam,
have made the United States an object of hate. ..the United States is
perceived as evil and out to destroy Islam; it therefore must be fought
in order to defend the faith."
One route open before
the US regime it to shed its 'anti Islam' image is to make friends with
moderate Islamic regimes may it be Pervez Musharraf led Pakistan or
Hosni Mubarak led Egypt. The second option before it is by distancing
itself from groups, organisations which cherish ideological hatred towards
Islam or detest Muslims as a community. Definitely the RSS which wears
its anti minority image on its sleeve and has no qualms in rationalising
pogroms of Muslims or breaking of mosques serves the purpose well.
There is no doubt
that a major factor which has prompted the USA to undertake this reevaluation
is the recent changes in the Indian polity namely the exit of a government
led by the Sangh Parivar diehards. And despite a long history of support
provided by the Sangh Supremos namely the Golwalkars and the Deorases
in times of cold war and despite the fact that Vajpayee-Advani led regime
had unilaterally offered it support when US launched its 'war against
terror' The US government and its affiliated institutions lost no time
in recalibrating their evaluation of the RSS. If Virginia based TRC
( Terrorism Research Centre) called RSS as a 'terrorist organisation'
( September 2004) and lumped it together with 31 other jihadi and secessionist
organisations like the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Jaish-e-Mohammad operating
in India , the US government itself denied a visa to the poster boy
of Sangh Parivar Narendra Modi when he wanted to meet the Non resident
Gujaratis to appeal to them that invest in Gujarat. And the latest dressing
down has come at the hands of RAND report which has equated it with
the likes of Al Qaeda. Indeed for a self proclaimed cultural organisation,
this hatrick of sorts of a different kind within a span of mere ten
months, must be a world record.
The public opinion
inside the US or for that matter other western countries also created
its own pressure on the respective governments. We are aware that apart
from the international level human rights organisations visiting Gujarat
in 2002 to seek more details, many a teams from western countries themselves
visited Gujarat state when the world at large became aware of the pogrom
undertaken by the nazi loving Parivar people. People also knew how the
ascendance of BJP at the centre has also seen unleashing of attacks
against the Christians all over India. The tragic burning of Graham
Steins and his two sons by criminals owing allegiance to the Hindutva
ideology had been witnessed by the world.
Many a business
delegations also visited the 'model laboratory of Hindutva' namely Gujarat
to ascertain the safety of their invested capital. It was clear that
a state which could attract enough capital because of its infrastructure
and related facilities suddenly saw drying up fresh investments after
the carnage 2002.
Ofcourse the important
role played by the civil society organisations inside USA especially
the role of the secular diaspora from south asia in influencing the
public opinion cannot be denied. The important role played by them in
highlighting the Gujarat genocide which officially saw killings of mainly
2,000 Muslims organised with due connivance of the BJP led state machinery
or the way they led a massive campaign inside USA where they exposed
how by utilising the US Corporate Philanthropy the Sangh people have
been channelising millions of dollars to Hate groups in India also created
an impact. (Times of India, Nov 22, 2002).The Project Saffron Dollar
launched by intellectuals, students and other professionals compelled
many a respectable US companies to even stop funding the innocuous looking
funding arm of the Sangh linked IDRF (India Development and Relief Fund)
The secular activists
also demonstrated the sameness of the Hindutva inspired groups in USA
with the other fanatic groups as far as modus operandi is concerned.
They showed how a very popular Hindutva web site'Hindunity.org' ( www.hindunity.org)
engages itself in venomous propaganda against minorities and has even
prepared a 'hit list' of individuals, organisations which are opposed
to the anti human agenda of the Parivar. They also brought to the notice
of the authorities the close connection between the Hindutva groups
and Zionist groups and how they have been coordinating their activites.
When the Hindutva.org website was compelled to discontinue its operations
by the service provider because of its venomous postings, a zionist
group came forward to host it. Although in his famous book 'We and Our
Nationhood Defined' the RSS supremo Golwalkar has supported Hitler for
his experiments in ethnic cleansing by targetting the Jews his followers
were found to be enjoying the good company of the Zionists without any
reservation. The only common thing which connected these groups is their
common hatred towards Islam.
Prof Ram Puniyani
had written an article 'Is
RSS A Terrorist Organisation' (Countercurrents.org 2 June 2005
) immediately after the Terrorism Research Centre's categorisation about
the RSS that it is a 'terrorist organisation' made headlines. In this
article he explained the indoctrination work of RSS which goes on twin
tracks, namely physical and bauddik (mental) one.
He explained :"
It is the latter which motivates its progeny to incite people to take
up arms and kill the other, the enemy in the
ruthless fashion. The anatomy of a riot, violence, is very interesting
and complex both at the same time. How the average dalit, adivasi, worker
with empty stomach and non existent future is mobilized as the foot
soldier of RSS agenda, is something social scientists have to explain.
RSS pracharak may be at the same time sitting and giving a quiet discourse
on Hindu values, Hindu rashtra while RSS ideology will grip the section
of population to unleash violence, to kill the innocents. It does achieve
the political goal of consolidation of section of Hindus behind RSS;
it does make them come back to power or strengthen its power. The definition
with which we began was killing of innocents for power or political
agenda is terrorism. And thats precisely what RSS work does. "
the Ladens or the AK 47 wielding terrorists and the RSS volunteers he
rightly says that he may appear to be apostle of quietness. According
to him to get the minorities beaten and killed without taking up the
arms oneself this is the wiliest and cleverest part of the RSS operation.
And he righly concludes "The violence is leased out by clever social
and psychological manipulation. In that sense AK 47 may miss the target
but a mind poisoned and initiated by Hate ideology propagated by RSS
will come out as violence some time or the other, here or there, its
just a question of time. Culture, the cloak of this organization is
the most subtly disguised cover for the terrorist goals of this organization."