Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh: Fact Sheet
Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative has compiled a factsheet on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Founded in 1925 by K.B Hedgewar, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is an Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organization. In 2020, RSS had almost 585,000 members and over 57,000 branches or sakhas, including a trade union wing (Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh), women’s wing (Rashtriya Sevika Samiti), student wing (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad), and economic wing (Swadeshi Jagaran Manch). The Print, an Indian news outlet, estimates that 3 out of 4 ministers in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are members of the RSS, including the current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was founded in 1925 by K.B Hedgewar in response to a series of small and large scale riots between Hindus and Muslims across northern India. As the historian Tapan Raychoudhuri has noted, Hedgewar believed the riots were Muslim riots as he [Hedgewar] claimed that in every single case, “it is they [Muslims] who start them.”
In the Sangh’s mission statement, Hedgewar wrote: “The Hindu culture is the life-breath of Hindustan. It is therefore clear that if Hindustan is to be protected, we should first nourish the Hindu culture. It is the duty of every Hindu to do his best to consolidate the Hindu society.” In 1927, RSS co-founder — Dr. B.S. Moonje — described the RSS as an institution which could produce “the military regeneration of the Hindus” and unify the people in line with “the idea of fascism.” In 1940, M.S Golwalkar succeeded Hedgewar as head of the RSS.