What forced RSS to talk about dark spots of the Indian economy?

It was the day of Durga saptami. A festive season.  On that day, in a webinar organized by Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Dattatreya Hosabale, the man perceived as the next sarsanghchalak, highlighted the dark spots of the Indian economy.

But why? Why highlight the dark spots just eighteen months before the general elections? And why Hosabale’s criticism sounded rather harsh on the union government?

“One figure says that India is among the top six economies of the world,” Hosabale acknowledged, and then quickly added, “But is this a good situation? Top 1 per cent of India’s population has one-fifth (20%) of the nation’s income. At the same time, 50% of the country’s population has only 13% of the country’s income.”

Well this is something that the experts and we the journalists were writing about for quite some time, pointing out that this is an alarming situation. However, the union government led by Narendra Modi never expressed any concern about it.

Not only that, Hosabale also talked about poverty and quoted a UN observer saying ‘large parts of India do not have access to clean water or nutritious food’. He spoke on the high rate of unemployment (7.6%) and discarded the government’s urban-centric employment generation plans as unsuccessful. He blamed it on ‘government inefficiency’ and even called for a rethink on economic policies followed in the last few decades.

Three days later, Mohan Bhagwat, the sarsanghchalak, treaded a different path. As far the economy is concerned, he sounded rather satisfied with the government’s performance.

On a simple count, it can be interpreted as a divergence of views between a conservative and a liberal leader of the RSS. The nature of a conservative is prone to hiding bad things and dishing out only good things; while a liberal deals with all sorts of facts: good, bad and ugly.

But perhaps things are more complex than that, because two speeches delivered so close to each other could not be intended to showcase differences of opinion. Almost certainly both speeches were vetted by the RSS top brass. So, the only plausible explanation is that the RSS has realized that it will have to broaden its approach and stand by the poor and the middle class.

According to CMIE data, which is not official one, about 60 crore Indians survive at less than Rs 85 a day level of expenditure, and the set of data released by CMIE has been used by the World Bank too as no official data is available for quite some years now. Perhaps Marendra Modi government felt that by stopping release of official data the truth could be obfuscated. Instead what has been accepted widely is a dismal scenario as depicted by CMIE.

Taking data from CMIE, the World Bank has also reported that out of 8 crore people pushed into poverty all over the world during the Covid-19 days, 6 crores were from India.

Hosabale, interestingly, has also quoted UN observations to highlight the point that large parts of India do not have access to clean water or nutritious food. It may surprise many that RSS is attaching so much importance to the UN or World Bank. However, it is more likely that the RSS is using the opportunity to paint itself as liberal about accepting such things, because the facts tally with its own feedback received through its own network.

With feedback from about 50 lakh members—genuine feedback not affected by fear of the leader like that of political parties—available to the RSS, it has its grand network for reality check. Along with that it also receives the feedback from all associated organizations. It means it is open to feedback from about a crore people from every nook and corner of the country.

In reality, RSS is worried about the condition of the country, and particularly the bottom 50 percent, after receiving feedback from the below. The union government has not attached any importance to the demand side, i.e. the lack of demand in the country which reflects the dismal condition of the lower half of the populace. So, the RSS has decided to intervene at the end of a long thought-out process.

Bhagwat did not employ himself to do the job as that would have created a furor, he instead deputed his second man to do the plain-speaking. Now, we have to wait and watch whether Modi attaches any importance to it.


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