The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) has directed schools to ensure that students celebrate ‘Swadeshi Deepawali’ this year. It has called for elimination of Chinese lights and organising diya (earthern lamps) decoration competitions in all schools.
It is not just the RSS, but also volunteers of Sangh Parivar-inspired organisations that are working to make the drive a success. Vidya Bharti Sanstha, an RSS wing which runs more than 7,000 schools in India, is one such organization. Similarly, Bhartiya Vidya Mandir Trust, which runs four schools in Ludhiana, has also taken up the cause.
The trust came up after RSS inspired activists started working in the field of education in 1968.
An RSS sewak said, “Modi’s Make In India campaign is talking about what we were saying for years. This year we want complete elimination of the Chinese invasion in Diwali shopping. In daily shaakha (classes of RSS), it has been made clear that all sewaks have to promote earthen lamps (diyas) for the benefit of our potters. All volunteers have been assigned schools to take up the matter.”
WhatsApp and Facebook are also being used to circulate the message, he added.
Swadeshi Jagran Manch, another Parivar wing working for Indian product promotion for years, is more active than ever before in Punjab. “SJM has issued a list of products that are swadeshi and non-swadeshi. People should take a pledge this Diwali to buy only swadeshi products,” said Ravi Kumar, an SJM member.
Diya decoration competitions and lectures on its uses have started in RSS-inspired schools with a week to go for Diwali. Neelam Mittar, principal of Bhartiya Vidya Mandir, Kitchlu Nagar, which runs under the Bhartiya Vidya Mandir Trust, told The Indian Express, “We are organizing competitions to promote diyas and avoid Chinese lights this Diwali. All students are being told about the plight of our potters.”
Other organizations not directly linked with the RSS are also involved. Akhil Bhartiya Yuva Aggarwal Sammelan (ABYAS), an organization formed by youths, recently distributed diyas in 5,000 households of Ludhiana along with pamphlets discouraging people to buy Chinese lights.
“We have no link with RSS or any party but it is true that China celebrates our Diwali, with all profits going there. We need to promote our potters, not Chinese products. Modi’s Make In India campaign is a step in the right direction,” said Vaneet Bansal, president of ABYAS.
Ram Gopal, prachar pramukh of the RSS in Punjab, said, “The campaign to promote Swadeshi Deepawali was on for years, but it never hogged limelight. Now with Modi launching launched his own campaign, people are understanding our concepts better.”