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Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is a Hindu nationalist movement that bases itself on the principles of Hindutva. It was started in 1925 by Dr. K. B. Hedgewar. In 1948 it was banned following the assassination of Mohandas Gandhi by a right-wing Hindu Naturam Godse, who allegedly had ties to the organisation. It went underground for many years before reemerging in the 1960s. Since then it has slowly gained prominence and political influence, culminating in the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), usually considered to be the political wing of the Sangh movement, to head the central government (Center) of India.

Organisational structure

The Sangh organises itself hierarchically, with a single individual, the sarsanghachalak, directing it. The position is decided by appointment, with each sarsanghachalak appointing his successor. Most of the organisational work of the Sangh is done through the coordination of shakhas, or clubs, which consist of a group of men and women (usually segregated) from an area. The activities consist of prayer, games (including sometimes training in stick fighting), and an educational session (bouddhik) given by a notable figure selected by the shakha coordinator. Usually the educational session relates to the history of India, Hindutva philosophy, or ethics.

The organisation is ostensibly entirely volunteer-run, though full-time volunteers (pracharaks) are sometimes subsidized by donations.

Criticism

The Sangh is usually considered to be a right-wing group. The Hindutva philosophy is often considered fascist, and the Sangh is often accused of stirring up anti-Muslim hate. However, the historical position of the RSS and the Hindutva movement has been that Hindus have been oppressed in their own homeland (India) for many years, and that RSS is only asserting the natural rights of Hindus and correcting historical wrongs. The most notable conflict over this divergent view of history involves the Babri Masjid mosque, which was destroyed by Hindutva activists/fanatics in 1992. The Sangh takes the position that the Babri Masjid was built by the Muslim ruler Babar in the 16th century after he demolished the preexisting Rama Janambhoomi Temple[?], which Hindus believe to be the site of the birth of the legendary Hindu god Rama. (See Hindutva for further discussion)

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