Bengaluru, Dec 22: In a major expansion, the Hindu right wing organistaion Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has spread its wing to 39 countries, according to media reports.
According to reports, the RSS is popularly known as Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) in countries like the US, the UK, Australia, Nepal, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway.
Many Indians living on the foreign soil remain connected to the Indian roots, as they have joined the RSS shakhas in the countries they live in. [RSS plans campaign for Hindu unity]
Ramesh Subramaniam, coordinator of RSS's overseas work from Mumbai helped in establishing shakhas (branches) in Mauritius from 1996 to 2004, TOI report said.
HSS also works in close association with other Hindu organisations like Chinmaya and Ramakrishna missions.
The saffron surge of RSS is actively present in the US, UK and five in the Middle East. [RSS to spread its ideology in Western countries]
The first RSS shakha that was held outside India was in 1946 on a ship in Mombasa, Kenya's second-largest city.
Unlike their uniform consisting of white shirt and khaki shorts, the uniform outside comprises of black pants and a white shirt and RSS members chant "Vishwa Dharma Ki Jai" on the foreign soil, to keep their culture alive and vibrant. [RSS to do a makeover, may replace khaki knickers with trousers]
Another country, Finland conducts e-shakhas via-video-conferencing.
Outside India, Nepal has the highest number of RSS shakhas and the US comes on second slot with 146 shakhas. The UK has 84 shakhas. ['RSS growing popular among youth, trend to go up in future']
In US, shakhas take place inside university campuses on hired parking lots, an RSS member said.
In Kenya, RSS was earlier known as Bharat Swayamsevak Sangh (BSS) and later it spread its ideology to other South African countries like Tanzania, Zimbabwe Uganda and Mauritius.
The UK will celebrate 50 years of RSS in 2016. [RSS has cyber shakhas in Bangalore]
In Sri Lanka, RSS pracharaks (whole-time social workers totally dedicated to nation-building activities) from Tamil Nadu propagate HSS.
In India, the first RSS shakha was held with a handful of youth at Nagpur on September 27, 1925 and gradually it sprouted to other states. RSS was founded by Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar.
RSS, that has over 5 million active members and over 100 affiliate bodies, across India, runs around 27,000 schools in tribal areas.
As per the RSS data, out of the 3,429 shakhas spread over four regions of Maharashtra-- Konkan, Western Maharashtra, Devgiri and Vidarbha-- 2,229 are 'Bal and Tarun Samyukta Shakha' (Children and Youth Joint Shakhas) for the members between the age group of 12 and 18.
What is the Shakha?
A saffron flag (called the Bhagawa Dhwaj) flutters in the midst of an open playground. Youths and boys of all ages engage in varieties of indigenous games. Uninhibited joy fills the air. There are exercises, Suryanamaskar, sometimes training in skillfully wielding the 'Danda'.
All activities are totally disciplined. The physical-fitness programmes are followed by group singing of patriotic songs. Also forming part of the routine is exposition and discussion of national events and problems. The day's activity culminates in the participants' assembling in orderly rows in front of the flag at a single whistle of the group leader, and reverentially reciting the prayer "Namaste Sada Vatsale Matrubhoome" (My salutation to you, loving Motherland).
The prayer verses, even as the group leader's various commands are all in Samskrit. The prayer concludes with a heart-felt utterance of the inspiring incantation "Bharat Mata Ki Jai".
This, in outline, is the Shakha of RSS. The participants are the 'Sangh Swayamsevaks'.
The Shakha is the most effective and time-tested instrument for the moulding of men on patriotic lines - outreaching by far its physical dimension.
The Shakha process is further strengthened by graded training-camps celled 'Sangha Shiksha Varga' at provincial and all-Bharat level, at regular intervals.