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RSS Networks in the print media


(The following is a news story from the Indian newsmagazine Sunday, an English language weekly from the house of the major Calcutta-based Ananda Bazar Patrika group.)

On the eve of Independence, the RSS was quick to realise that the organisation needed its own publicist. As a result, the leadership decided to float the Bharat Prakashan Trust in 1946. Swayamsevaks sold shares of the Trust and in the process mopped up upwards Rs 4 lakh. The money was used to fund the Organiser that was launched in July 1947. Since then, the publishing division of the sangh parivar has not looked behind and today there are a plethora of organisations engaged in disseminating the viewpoint of the conglomerate.

Within months of launching Organiser, the RSS leadership felt the need for a mouthpiece in Indian languages. Panchjanya and Rashtra Dharma were the Hindi weekly and monthly organs of the RSS that soon hit the stands. Later, as more and more RSS affiliates were floated, each one came out with their own newsletter. The Fifties also witnessed the launch of several more periodicals including dailies in regional language.

Today, the sangh parivar controls important dailies like Tarun Bharat (Marathi) the paper where Pramod Mahajan began his political climb, Yug Dharma and Swadesh in Hindi. Organisations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad among other affiliates publish newsletters regularly which the RSS claims is distributed in more than one lakh thirty thousand villages in the country. Of these, the Sanskritika Vartha Patra in Marathi is circulated in all the 30,000 panchayats of Maharashtra. The Patheya Kana has a similar outreach in Rajasthan.

Not content with just periodicals and magazines, the sangh parivar has an elaborate book publishing division that come out with new titles regularly. However, like other initiatives in publishing, the division is not centralised and functions through independent publishing houses making it virtually impossible for any hostile government to impose a blanket on its publications. It also helps the RSS leadership in its claims that it does not have formal links with the organisations.

The Rashtra Dharma Prakashan, Lucknow; Suruchi Prakashan, New Delhi; Jnana Ganga Prakashan, Jaipur; Bharatiya Vichar Sadhana Pune; Jagarana Publications, Bangalore; and Babasaheb Apte Smarak Samiti, Nagpur are some of the important publishing companies of the sangh parivar that publish books regularly in all Indian languages. Some of these books MS Golwalkar's Bunch of Thoughts and populist pamphlets like The Warning of Meenakshipuram and Some questions to Pope have been reprinted several times in various languages. The reach of the books can be gauged from the claims of RSS general secretary HV Seshadri that Hindi versions of books on Abhimanyu and Draupadi have been used as textbooks for children of Hindu origin in Fiji.

Not content with publication drive, the RSS leadership has taken the lead in forming an organisation named Vigil. Consisting primarily of regular contributors to the letters to the Editor columns of newspapers, the organisation is also welcome to regular listeners and viewers of radio and television. The Chennai-based organisation has seen some leading lights of journalism participate in its organisation. According to the RSS leadership, some of the major achievements of Vigil include:

Convicting media in Tamil Nadu that the Ayodhya dispute was not getting adequate coverage.

Launching a campaign to force the government to relocate a slaughter house in Chennai

Forcing a vulgar depiction of Ras Leela out of television in 1985.

Vigil normally uses the letters to the Editor columns for launching and sustaining a campaign on an issue. Regular writers are routinely contacted insistence of newspapers to publish addresses of letter writers has helped the RSS to widen its network and then they are slowly drawn into the organisation's fold.

Vigil holds meeting regularly and the experience has been such a success that swayamsevaks have taken the initiative in several other states to launch similar organisations. Presently, the activities of these public campaign organisations are coordinated by a national secretariat.


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Last updated: October 29, 2000 .