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Our Economic Model Must Not Ape Others: Sunil Ambekar, ABVP

Ambekar spoke to BW Businessworld’s Suman K Jha on the book and the RSS.

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The RSS is a socio-cultural organisation, dedicated to India’s service. In common parlance, it’s usually referred  to as the BJP’s parent organisation. The name RSS also evokes extreme reaction – supporters and well-wishers call it a nationalist organisation wedded to India’s cause; the opposite camp has a problem with the idea of the RSS. The RSS attributes this to a Left-dominated academia and media. To make the RSS easily decipherable to the masses, as also the media and the academia, Sunil Ambekar, national organising secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), also a long-time pracharak, has penned a book The RSS: Roadmaps for the 21st Century. The book will be released by RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat. Ambekar spoke to BW Businessworld’s Suman K Jha on the book and the RSS.

Edited Excerpts:

Why did you feel there was a need for a new book on the RSS, and how did you take up the project?
I have been a swamaysevak since my childhood. I am a prachrak since 1990. Yes, I am associated with the ABVP (in the capacity of national organising secretary). The publishers came to me with the proposal and asked if I would like to take this up. I had an internal discussion, and decided to go ahead.

Like any organisation, yes, we would like to propagate our worldview. It benefits all.

What should the ideal Indian society be like, in the RSS worldview?

We think of a social order, where there is love and affection all around, and there’s no discrimination based on birth. There should be opportunities for all towards prosperity.
In the Sangh, we use the idea of param vaibhav. Prosperity – economic, social, cultural, and evolved human values, all around, is the mantra.

In our social order, we fellow citizens should be evolved to the highest possible point – this is an aspiration that binds us all. Sangh also works towards this and aspires for this.

How do you think of the Indian social order, and what’s the place of Dalits in that social order, in the RSS worldview?
The Sangh believes that any discrimination based on who is so-called superior and who is so-called inferior is the worst thing that one sees around. The sooner the society junks this system, the better for all of us.

We don’t support this unequal system in the Sangh at all. In the Sangh, no matter which social stratum one comes from, he/she is placed on the same and equal pedestal.

The ground reality, though, is different. A section of our society has been left behind, and they have not been accorded their dues, due to a variety of reasons. Whoever understands this social realty, must work for the upliftment of the sections left behind. The Sangh is committed towards this.

Why do you think we get to hear periodic noises and controversies around reservation and quotas?
If politics is wedded to caste, then we believe the social ill that has afflicted us won’t leave us.
We must look at the unifying tendencies. The Sangh believes that the term Hindu is a unifying expression, which takes care of interests of all sections.

Some people, who wish to take short-cuts in politics, desire that people remain fragmented and aligned to them.

We also feel that our social system and institutions have not been analysed by our own framework. A number of people have tried to understand India’s social structure through western prisms, or through practices prevalent in the Left-dominated academia. Our public life also gets influenced by this.

If we need to study India and its organs and institutions, we must study them through with the help of home-grown perspectives and methodologies. And, then, yes, we should accept that ours is not a perfect society, and there exist problems as well. Over the years, problems have crept into our social system – it’s our responsibility, I would add, everyone’s responsibility to address that.

How do we end the caste system?
Some people may claim to have a formula for this. The Sangh doesn’t claim to possess it. The Sangh feels that a new arrangement and system will evolve through endogenous means. We need a conducive atmosphere for this, where people from all sections and caste sit together, eat together, and brainstorm without any prejudices. The caste injustices that we see in our everyday life must end forthwith. This is true that this (caste) system is absolutely redundant. But this cannot continue further.

On the one hand, we talk about India’s $5-trillion economy vision, and the market economy as the path, with bodies like the Niti Aayog, supporting the government, and on the other hand, we have the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, affiliated to the RSS. What is the Sangh worldview on the economy?
Swadeshi is not a doctrine like capitalism, or communism. It’s a natural thought process that emanates from the land and its people. It’s an economic philosophy, which takes care of its human resources, is premised on our own ideals, and is environment-friendly.

When we talk about our economic environment and philosophy, there will be, for instance, entrepreneurship – but it’s not limited to the chosen few. And this economic thought is not divorced from our culture, people, and thought processes. So, this needs to be synchronised – this must not be seen in isolation. The Sangh stresses that there should be more debate and dialogue on the subject. We are, however, clear that India need not copy any model from anywhere. We will take the best traits from everywhere, including capitalism. We need the best combinations. We should have our own model.

Is the Sangh comfortable with the market economy?
The Sangh doesn’t believe in these artificial binaries like market economy vs X. The Sangh is working towards mainstreaming and highlighting India’s needs, requirements, and aspirations. The Sangh doesn’t believe in these “isms”. Today, a number of people even see Deendayal Upadhaya’s philosophy as an “ism” – we don’t buy that.

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The RSS: Roadmaps For The 21st Century

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