Shreyans Maini
Book Review- The Lost Years of RSS
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From the Wikipedia page on Balasaheb Deoras:

“Consolidating Hindu society as a functioning cohesive plurality is the goal of the Sangh. So, it is also as much a conscious decision on Deoras’ part, as not opening the Sangh’s door to the Muslims despite appeals from social reformers like Jayaprakash Narayan.”

And hence writes the author on the similar topic

“….More than anyone else, Deoras had sensed the historic moment and made a decision, which he then acted upon. On his release from the prison,Deoras declared that the RSS was considering opening its doors to the Muslims. Both the RSS and Jamat – e – Islami members were in jail together, a place where nothing could be hidden from each other…..”

If one needs to know about how people have understood and more importantly reacted to RSS’s ideology and principles, the above mentioned extracts give you the best possible explanation. Misunderstood by the community at large, ‘The Lost Years of RSS’, talks exactly about that and the repercussions the misunderstanding has had on the Indian Society at large.

If there is one book that explains and more importantly criticizes RSS’ organization and character, its success and failures and its strengths and weakness, it is the ‘The Lost Years of RSS’. Written by Sanjeev Kelkar, a RSS insider of more than 45 years, the writer has cleverly divided the character of RSS in accordance to the Sarsanghchalaks the organization has had. Not only does the book provide a rich history of RSS but also how leadership and vision of those at the helm of affairs is paramount for any organization.

Titled ‘The Lost Years of RSS’, the writers laments on the years RSS lost under the leadership of Guruji Golwalkar. According to the writer, the RSS morphed in to a secret brotherhood society under Guruji’s leadership. This manifested in terms of disdain for intellectual discourse, retreating from media interactions and a stubborn denial for division of organization on the basis of expertise.

“There was no discussion, no spark of scholarship on any problem that beset the nation at the ground level.”

Although the unquestioned supremacy of Sarsanghchalak prevailed and RSS meandered along under Guruji , the organization lost its vitality .  But there is no doubt regarding the working Guruji did in his capacity as the Sarsanghchalak. One might not agree with his ideological formulations  and organisational methods but under his stewardship RSS become one mind, one voice. Consolidation of a young organization, coming out of a ban, perhaps required that strategy

The direction of the organization and its vision changed completely under the transformative leadership of Balasaheb Deoras. Deoras recognized that the philosophy and workings of RSS should be in line with the contemporary India. He fought proactively against slavery and the harassment met out to the downtrodden castes. He made himself more available to the media and also realized the importance of a political wing to help RSS in its mission of Man – Making. If there is one word that can describe Balasaheb Deoras, it would be ‘Modernist’.

The book explains the roles and responsibilities RSS has played over the last 60 years post independence. It brings to focus a rich heritage and culture of an organization which has come to define the very nature of social interactions between various focus groups in this country. RSS has played a very important social, less political role in shaping the history of the world’s largest democracy post Gandhi.

I would like to congratulate Sanjeev Kelkar on the efforts he put into the research and putting out a true picture of RSS, in front of many people who have misunderstood it and / or don’t want to understand it. It definitely falls into the category of ‘a must read.’