[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he familiar RSS dress symbolised by knickers was adopted in 1925, including leather belts, long black shoes, khaki cap and a stick. The first change took place in 1930, when the khaki cap was replaced by a black one, and this was followed by a white shirt in place of khaki. Again, in 1973, there was a third alteration when lighter shoes were introduced. The last change came in 2011, when Jain muni Tarun Sagar said the use of a leather belt was “not so related to non-violence”. The leather belt was overnight replaced with a canvas belt. RSS units outside India are known as the ‘Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh’ and its members are allowed to use trousers. The revamped attire has gone on sale, marking a radical departure, the first such in the organisation’s 91-year history.
Bidding goodbye to the traditional khaki knickers, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) launched the sale of its new uniform — brown trousers — at its headquarters in Nagpur. The decision to replace the khaki shorts with trousers was taken at the RSS’s Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha held at Nagaur, Rajasthan, earlier this year. The new uniforms were made in Rajasthan and the first consignment reached Nagpur. The price of the new attire has been kept at Rs. 250 and the rest of the uniform — white shirt, canvas belt, black cap, black shoes — is also being sold along with the belt.
There were lots of jokes and humour on social network when RSS declared change in its uniform. Nowadays, even RSS are making bold decisions which were never expected. Their support to women’s entry in temples is one of them. They said both men and women should be treated equally; this is very progressive and realistic move by RSS. This is far beyond the conservative thoughts too, as people are projecting the organization as orthodox. RSS might be going little liberal looking at people’s disagreement for them. When the question rose about compromising the core ideology of “Sangh Parivar” in any action of the central government or the BJP, Amit Shah publically announced that government actions will be dictated by the ideology and principles for which the BJP was established and for which thousands of swayamsevaks have laid down their lives. During the three-day RSS Pratinidhi Sabha, Shah made a detailed presentation to the RSS functionaries on the work done by the BJP in the last one year. Shah was flanked by the BJP’s National General Secretary for the organisation, Ram Lal, when he spoke to the RSS brass.
Shah started by recounting the major achievements of the Modi government over the last one year. He also spoke about the extensive ideological training programme that is currently underway for BJP workers. The BJP chief also briefed the RSS about the efforts being made to build a party office in every district of the country. Hitting out at the so called pseudo-secularists; Shah described Modi as a champion of nationalism. He emphasised the need for greater synergy between different wings of the RSS and the Modi government and said that every action of the government would be in keeping with the core ideology of the Sangh Parivar. Shah even said the budget proposal to tax Provident Fund was rolled back by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley after feedback was given by the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh. He asked the RSS affiliates to show patience on contentious issues where they felt the government was not moving with speed. He said that the lack of majority in the Rajya Sabha was holding back some of the steps the government wanted to take and promised that this would get resolved in time to come.
The BJP president also appealed to RSS functionaries to help the party campaign in the forthcoming UP Assembly elections. Usually, the RSS is wary of campaigning for regular elections and wants its functionaries to be involved convincing only in exceptional circumstances, like the 2014 general elections. However, Shah is trying to convince the RSS to help them in every election. BJP and RSS both needs each other by their side to survive, elections in UP are core key issue and it’s a question of BJP’s credibility.
RSS members said they are not rigid, so changing with time is necessity of the nature. Pants are a regular feature in today’s social life, so they took the decision accordingly. For many decades the loose fitting, flappy khaki knickers have been the most visible manifestation of RSS volunteers. A large section of the RSS now feels that the time has come to move on from the khaki shorts but some old timers continue to hold out saying that there is no need to be swayed by fashion trends. Suggestions have come for changing the trademark khaki to blue or grey, keeping in the mind sensibilities of the new generation, which RSS says is flocking to its shakhas. The khaki uniform, the organisation claims, was designed by its first Sarsanghchalak KB Hedgewar, who borrowed it from the Congress Sewa Dal, a Congress sister organisation founded in 1924. In 1930, the black cap was adopted. In 1940, white shirts were introduced as the British banned private institutions from conducting drills as World War II broke out.
For many decades, the loose fitting flappy khakhi knickers have been the most visible manifestation of RSS volunteers. Now, they are changing with the time and accepting modern things. When the proposal was last debated some 5 years ago, it was rejected by the senior members of the hardcore ‘Hindutva’ organization. Finally, they said, “Goodbye to knickers and hello to trousers”.
(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on firstname.lastname@example.org)