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Does PM Modi’s Call for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ Have Roots in the 'Swadeshi' Model of RSS?

File photo of PM Narendra Modi. (Reuters)

File photo of PM Narendra Modi. (Reuters)

On April 26, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat called the push for ‘self-reliance’ and ‘Swadeshi’, the next stage of “national reconstruction”.

Suhas Munshi
  • News18.com New Delhi
  • Last Updated: May 13, 2020, 3:04 PM IST
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In his 30-minute long televised address to the nation yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned the term ‘Atmanirbhar’ meaning ‘self-reliance’ at least nineteen times. The Prime Minister’s push for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) amid coronavirus pandemic is being seen as an opportunity for RSS’ constant pitch for 'Swadeshi' model of development in the country.

Many top functionaries of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), including its chief Mohan Bhagwat, have been discussing since long about a post Covid-19 world order, which Prime Minister Modi also mentioned in his speech yesterday.

On April 26, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat called the push for ‘self-reliance’ and ‘swadeshi’, the next stage of “national reconstruction”.

“'Self-reliance’ is the new mantra of development which implies economic system that is employable, energy efficient, and environment-friendly – this will be next stage of national reconstruction. Even during the crisis, some fundamental truths are being tested. We should also take the project of national reconstruction with the fundamental principle of self-reliance,” Bhagwat said, while talking about the need to inculcate ‘Swadeshi Sanskars’.

The RSS affiliated magazine named Organiser had ‘Swadeshi’ depicted on the cover of its May 2 edition with a headline ‘We all have a role in converting corona crisis into opportunity’, a line picked from Bhagwat’s address to the nation. The second piece in the magazine was published with a title ‘India Must Lead the New World Order’.

A background note circulated by the Sangh just before the interaction of RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale with foreign media reads, “The materialist world view imposed on the entire world can push us to newer cycles of economic depression and environmental degradation. In such a scenario, it is prudent that we develop a new model based on self-reliance and ‘Swadeshi'. In this indigenous model, local resources, workforce and needs would be integrated into the economic activity, taking into account the ecological considerations.”

Later, during his interaction with the foreign media, Hosabale had reportedly talked about “integrated world where ‘local’ will be equally important as the ‘global’”, the same topic which Prime Minister Modi discussed yesterday with the nation.

In the latest edition of the Organiser, RSS joint general secretary Manmohan Vaidya has quoted many writers including Rabindranath Tagore to make an emphasis on the importance of ‘Swadeshi’ model. He says, "For every nation, production and promotion of indigenous (Swadeshi) products is necessary. The 'one size fits all' approach of globalisation is not suitable for everybody…Mutually accepted, complementary and cooperative economic agreements between countries is a far better model."

As India steps into the fourth phase of lockdown, the revival of its economy will be shaped by Rs 20 lakh crore vision for the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan' (mission self-reliant India), announced by Prime Minister Modi. How well India does may depend not just on the officials sitting on Raisina Hill but on the top brass of the Sangh which has clearly helped shape this vision.


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