NEW DELHI:Countering discrimination based on castes seems to be the new mantra of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which has started a nationwide survey right up to the village level to gather feedback on the prevailing mindsets, particularly among the upper castes.
The Sangh, which has been aiming at the “homogenisation” of the Hindu society, has asked its workers to carry out programmes so that upper castes allow integration of the Dalits into the community, a move that will also help conversion by those belonging to the marginal sections to other religions. RSS is also commemorating Dalit icon B R Ambedkar’s anniversary on a grand scale.
During its annual meeting in March, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had given a call for starting programmes which would allow common access to temples, water and crematoriums at the village level to all communities.
Before these programmes can be initiated, the cadre have been asked to conduct surveys in all the districts of the country, particularly in those states afflicted by caste discrimination. Sangh sources say the survey is underway in many states, while others are devising their own questionnaires based on local situations and needs. “Every state will have a different prevailing situation, so we have asked the local leadership to prepare their surveys. The work has already started,” senior RSS functionary told The Sunday Standard.
Based on the outcome of these surveys, the programmes to be carried out would be customised, he says. “The idea behind the survey first germinated after Bhagwat’s Vijay Dashmi address two years ago. Some states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka carried out local studies to find a solution of caste discrimination. This was concretised after Bhagwat’s speech in Nagpur in March, where he asked the Sangh to work for ending discrimination,” RSS leader says.
“Bhagwat said all castes should have access to the same temple, use water from the same well or tap and use the same crematorium for last rites of the departed. Currently, different castes have their own places of worship, wells and crem atoriums. So when discrimination is tackled at this level, change will happen,” he adds. “In the survey we will ask the upper castes reasons for their discrimination and why do they think that other castes should not have a common access.”
Another RSS leader says that the initial findings of the survey conducted in 11 states have thrown up interesting solutions. “In Uttarakhand, it turned out that local herbal products and food products can create their own mini units if supported by the Food Processing ministry. Home Minister Rajnath Singh had attended a function where the idea of food processing unit was also discussed.”
Talking about the ongoing Sangh programme, another RSS functionary says that Bhagwat wants greater integration. “He asked every family should take out at least one hour in a week where everyone should sit together and talk, without discussing cricket, politics or switching on TV. Then as this programme develops, neighbours should also be involved for similar meetings. The aim is to curb imbalances that have crept in due to dismantling of the joint family system.”
■ Nationwide survey on caste discrimination
■ Devise customised programme after analysing survey findings
■ Ensure concept of one temple, one well, one crematorium
■ Commemorate BR Ambedkar’s contribution for the society
■ One hour per week when all family members talk without discussing TV, cricket or politics
■ Expand from current 50,000 shakhas in districts to all mandal levels by 2025