Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha 2024: Setting Bharat’s Transformational Agenda 

The Sangh may very well be the defining socio-cultural movement of the twenty-first century, and the anchor of Bharatiya civilisational consciousness for the next few decades at least.  
Keywords: RSS, ABPS, Sangh, Socio-Cultural, Civilisational, Movement, Organisational
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As the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh gears up to enter its centenary year on the Vijayadashami of 2025, it concluded its annual meeting of the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha last month in Nagpur, held from March 15-17, 2024. In about a century, the Sangh has established itself as the largest socio-cultural organisation in the nation, and this year’s Pratinidhi Sabha served as a forum to set the transformative agenda of the organization in the coming decades. A closer observation of its proceedings provides deep insights about the future pathway of the Sangh and its instrumental role in laying the roadmap of Bharat. Within a century, the Sangh has been able to make deep inroads into the entire geography and collective psyche of Bharat. Now, it is poised to steadfastly establish itself as a pan-Bharat organisation with its target of having shakhas reaching  ‘poorna mandal, poorna khand, poorna nagar’, that is, establishing their presence across the remotest regions of the country. With the re-election of Shri Dattatreya Hosabale as the Sarkaryavah, coupled with an overall anticipation of the return of BJP to power with a thumping majority, the Sangh has prepared the ground for optimal political stability in the next few years to maximize the impact of its activities. Cognisant of Bharat’s ‘Amrit Kaal’ as the ushering in of a new era, the Sangh has also resolutely laid out its transformative agenda in the Pratinidhi Sabha. 

From a cursory look at the proceedings of the Pratinidhi Sabha, one may gain graceful confidence in the organization being a well-established, harmonious entity, touching each nook and corner of the country (‘sarvasparshi’) soon, and appreciate its centrality in the process of socio-cultural transformation of the nation. Addressing a global audience, the Sabha’s resolution has marked the Pran Pratishtha of Shri Ramlala vigrah as an ‘ethereal’ moment of ‘national resurgence’, and a “golden page of world history”. Explaining the significance of Shri Ram Mandir at Ram Janmbhoomi as a manifestation of Bharatiya identity and a marker of Bharat’s culture, the resolution points towards the emergence of the unique national identity of Bharat defined by its civilisational values, leading to a recovery of its original decolonised self. The resolution has set in motion a dialogue to work towards “building a harmonious and organised national life based on the values of Shri Ram”, and weave a consensual praxis to realise the Bharatiya civilisational state of Ram Rajya. The resolution defines the future work of Sangh as such: 

“The Pratinidhi Sabha is of the considered opinion that the whole society should take a pledge to infuse the ideals of Maryadapurushottam Shri Ram in its life so that the objective of reconstruction of Shri Rammandir will be meaningful. It is essential to infuse the society again with the eternal values of Dharma like sacrifice, affection, justice, valour, goodwill, and fairness etc as reflected in the life of Shri Ram. Building a Purusharthi society based on harmony by eradicating all kinds of mutual strife and discrimination will be the true worship of Shri Ram.

Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha calls upon all Bharatiyas to build an able Bharat that ensures fraternity, duty consciousness, value-based life, and social justice. On this basis, Bharat can play a prominent role in fostering a global order that ensures universal welfare.”

During his press briefing after being re-elected as the Sarkaryavah, Shri Dattatreya Hosabale stated that the organization was able to reach out to 20 crore households within a matter of 15 days during its ‘Akshat vitaran’ campaign before the Pran Pratishtha. This indicated both the extensive reach of Sangh’s network, and its commitment to do its part for making Shri Ram Mandir a rallying point for national consciousness and national resurgence. With this resolve to mould the character of individuals by inculcating the values cherished by our culture, the Sangh has also provided better clarity on the scope of its reforms. In the press briefing post his re-election, he also clearly mentioned that RSS is not an organisation working within the Bharatiya society, rather it proposes to organize (and ethically transform) the entire society. In an interview to the Organiser magazine, when enquired about the next phase of Sangh’s work, he eloquently elaborated on this point:

“The Sangh must become a strong national movement, working towards change while enlightening the people. Therefore, the Sangh has always emphasised that it will not confine its work as an organisation within the society, but should rather work towards organising the society itself. Therefore, there should be no division between the Sangh and the society it serves. From this perspective, realising the spirit of nationalism that animates the righteous forces within society, one must participate in this movement for national rejuvenation. You may term this as Sangh’s vision or the next phase of the Sangh.”

With the increase in its global outreach and inter-cultural dialogue, the RSS is also smoothly reforming its internal functioning to effectively organise the Bharatiya society and reach out to its last person as its own. (As put forth by Shri Hosabale during his press briefing: “Sangh ka karya sarvasparshi hona chahiye. Hindu samaaj ke sabhi panth, sampradaya, jati, varg, sangh ke karyakarta hain.”) It’s time for the scholars of social sciences studying or commenting on the RSS to understand that the Sangh is no longer a social organisation active within certain sections of Bharatiya society; rather it’s a unique, nationwide, nationalist movement preparing individuals to be the initiators of every required reform and positive action in the society.  

The Sangh is engaging in the organic creation of a unique model of social harmony, which need not be governed through control mechanisms. Instead of attempting to create frameworks for social structures to generate harmony, the Sangh has created many affiliated, largely independent organisations working towards this end. A crucial point to be noted, also mentioned by Shri Hosabale in his press briefing, is that since the RSS  is a socio-cultural movement, most of its affiliated organizations have also metamorphosed into social movements directed at ushering in reforms in their specific areas of activity. Shri Hosabale succinctly explains it thus,: “The essence of the Sangh is a spontaneous national movement. Therefore, it is necessary to work towards bringing together all sections of society, awakening and mobilising the righteous soul of society.” Shri Hosabale beautifully explained in his briefing that each affiliated organisation of the RSS has a broad vision, which requires a social movement to blossom into a living reality for the whole society. While the onus of samajik parivartan or social change lies with the society itself, the initiatives of such changes through various organizations are undertaken by motivated individuals or Sangh pracharaks. Further, he emphatically stated that samajik samarasta (social harmony and equality) is an “article of faith” for the Sangh, not just an idea pushed for organizational benefit or outcome. 

With a keen awareness of the global developments and challenges such as climate change and a serious assessment of the legitimacy and viability of fundamental social institutions such as family, the RSS has also formulated a five-fold agenda for multi-dimensional changes in the Bharatiya society. Aptly coined as ‘Panch Parivartan’, the agenda encompasses the following domains as put forth by Shri Hosabale in his interview: 

“The idea of Panch Parivartan is to deepen our approach to fundamental reforms by making the workers of the Sangh and various organizations its torchbearers. Anyway, today, Panch Parivartan is the need of society in general. Panch Parivartan includes dimensions such as insistence on practicing Samarasta in society (equality with fraternity), an environment-friendly lifestyle, family awakening to promote familial values, inculcating a sense of ‘Swa’ (selfhood) based on Bharatiya values in all aspects of life, and social awakening for the adherence of civic duties; all these issues concern the society at large.” The implementation and on-ground realization of this five-fold agenda is the pathway to having for ourselves a “samruddhshali, samarthshali, swabhimani” Bharat. 

True to the nature of the organization, the RSS has pledged to involve all of Bharatiya society as an integral part of its movement for social change, with a broad division of its work for social transformation into the following focus areas, namely, eradication of caste discrimination, national unity (Rashtriya ekatmata), and the social inclusion of women (mahila samanvaya). Despite the presence of an affiliate women-based organisation in the form of Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, the re-iteration of the focus of RSS on working towards the social integration of women is a paradigm shift in its approach, and indicates its commitment to an enhanced endeavour to achieve gender inclusion, equality, empowerment and harmony. 

In this context, during the Pratinidhi Sabha, a special mention was made to the celebration of the 300th birth anniversary year of Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar, initiating a nationwide dialogue on her life and contribution to nation-building,  and presenting her as a model for women empowerment to create a consciousness about the instrumental role of women in the resurgence of our civilisation. Such celebration of national icons is at the core of the Sangh’s fundamental action for character development. It is a medium to facilitate the inoculation of cherished values in the individuals, and to build a consensus on the values that should be nurtured in society at-large. For  holistic development and to be better equipped to sail through challenges such as wokeism and the undermining of the family, the Sangh will work for social integration, inclusion, and women’s participation with greater vigour in the future. 

A less discussed statement in the press briefing given by Shri Hosabale was the need to innovatively rethink the concept of ‘minorities’ as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The drumming up of the rubric of minorities, that gives a constitutional legitimacy to demands for separate treatment leads to a potential questioning of a holistic vision of nationhood. The politics of minoritarism begs the question of whether we have such a perception or whether Bharat is truly a cluster of multiple minorities coming together to forge the nation. He also evoked the issue of stereotypes conventionally attached to minority identities and the usage of certain communities as ‘showpieces’ for minority politics. He stated that the Sangh has attracted karyakartas from all such sections, and has always considered everyone Hindu by nationality. The Sangh is also open to dialogue with those sections of the society which may not consider themselves as such, and don’t perceive their community to be a part of the Bharatiya civilisation. 

This year’s Pratinidhi Sabha has undoubtedly recorded some historic moments in the evolution of the Sangh. As rightly noted by Prafulla Ketkar, Editor of the Organiser Weekly, “The real success of this historic national council lies in its ability to continuously reinvent itself organisationally and strategically to achieve the life mission of Bharat.” As a result of paradigmatic changes in the organisational agendas, coupled with a re-engineering of our cultural milieu in tune with our civilisational fabric, the Sangh may very well be the defining socio-cultural movement of the twenty-first century, and the anchor of Bharatiya civilisational consciousness for the next few decades at least.  

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Yashowardhan Tiwari

Yashowardhan Tiwari is a B.A. LLB. (Hons.) graduate from Jindal Global Law School (JGLS), Sonipat, India (Batch of 2020). He has previously worked as a Graduate Research Immersion Programme (GRIP) Scholar at JGLS. He has completed his LL.M. in General Legal Studies from JGLS as a Silver Medalist by securing Batch Rank – Second, in the LL.M. cohort of 2021-22. He is also pursuing an M.A. in Gandhi and Peace Studies at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi, India. Yashowardhan has joined India Foundation as a Research Fellow and works as a part of the Centre For Constitutional And Legal Studies (CCLS). He desires to be a social science nomad and is primarily interested in the fields of modern Indian history, constitutional law and decolonial studies.

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