New Login   

Bidyut Chakrabarty

Edited by Christophe Jaffrelot
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 445, Rs. 675.00


A thorough study of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is always worth pursuing because (a) there are not many works on this, and (b) the phenomenon itself is so thought-provoking. The present effort by Jaffrelot is not however confined to the study of the RSS alone; instead, he has brought into our focus the Sangh Parivar comprising the affiliates of the RSS holding similar ideology. With their growing importance in Indian politics, the Parivar has become a significant ideological force defending ‘the Hindu majoritarian’ ideology seeking to underplay India’s syncretic socio-cultural traditions. No doubt, the RSS is a major force within the Parivar; the other constituents play an important part in their respective domains.   Despite separate domains, the Parivar is a well-knit unit in terms of ideological faith. In Jaffrelot’s words, ‘the aim (of the Parivar) remained the same: to penetrate society in depth, at the grassroots level, and to convert it to Hindu nationalism’ (p.10). How did the idea of a Parivar emerge? It is attributed to, as the editor suggests, the desire for reaching out to ‘the domains in which (the RSS) was not active’ (p.7). So, the Parivar was justified within the broad agenda of expanding of its influence in areas where the RSS was simply peripheral. Or, since it was not possible for the RSS to effectively represent various social layers of Indian society, the need for different wings of the organization arose.   Whatever may be the roots, the core constituents of the Parivar appear to supplement the Hindu nationalist ideological goal. In fact, this is what cements the bond among them. Theoretically, these constituents are independent and hence can choose their course of action. In reality however, the RSS seems to control by unambiguously laying down the ideological contour within which they are defined and their programmes are articulated. Within the broad ideological parameter, the members of the Parivar are united by following ‘a real division of labour between the different components’ representing ‘different social milieus’ and various ‘ideological sensibilities’ (p.17).   Divided into eight themes, the Reader has twenty articles dealing with the different wings of the Parivar. Since this is a collection of already published articles one may have read most of them. The editor and T.B. Hansen seem to dominate the volume as out of twenty articles, they share nine articles among them.   For obvious reasons, the first important section ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.