On Wednesday, on the occasion of Dussehra, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat addressed the annual rally in Nagpur, and said, “Until women’s equal participation in the workforce is ensured, efforts aimed at the progress of the country will not be successful.” The chief guest of the event was Santosh Yadav, mountaineer and former Indo-Tibetan Border Police officer.
During the course of his speech at the rally, Dr Bhagwat touched many important aspects crucial for India’s development, one of which was ‘maternal power’. Referring to women as ‘jagat janani’ (mother of the universe), he explained the importance of ‘maternal power’ in social organisation.
Discussing the restrictions on women in India’s patriarchal society, he said, “I don’t know what got into us that we limited their sphere of activity… And later, when foreign invaders came, these restrictions got legitimacy. The invaders went away but we continued with the restrictions. We never liberated them.”
Dr Bhagwat discussed how women are still treated as ‘second class’ citizens, and how urgently the society should ‘do away’ with the discriminatory treatment by “giving them equal rights in the domestic and public sphere, and independence in decision-making”.
The RSS chief also emphasised that the Sangh has never been male-dominated since the time of ‘Doctor Sahab’, i.e., RSS founder Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar.
Citing examples of gender inclusivity, he said, “Anasuyabai Kale was present at our event at that time. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, then chief of All India Women’s Conference, has also been part of our shivir. In December 1934 too, the chief guest was a woman.” He also said that although there are separate wings for men and women, both participate in the activities of the other wing.
Dr Bhagwat also voiced his concern over the “population imbalance” in India, which is causing “division of countries”. Apart from birth rates, he also blamed ‘conversion by force’ , ‘allurement’ and cross-border ‘infiltration’ to be the biggest reasons leading to population imbalance. He voiced the need for a comprehensive population control policy that “must apply to all without any exception”.
Dr Bhagwat believes that the young population can be leveraged as a ‘demographic dividend’, but there needs to be a plan for the future when this huge chunk of population enters 50.
Citing the arguably failed project of birth control in China, he warned against ‘excessive control over population’.
The Sangh chief has also refuted the ‘misinformation’ about the organisation’s aggressions and explained: “We do not want to conquer others. We just don’t want to be conquered and so we seek strength.”
“But there is scare-mongering… Because of this fear, some members of the minority community have been meeting us over the past few years. We are also meeting people from the community,” he added.