The common man's response during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ram Mandir Abhiyan has been a show of resilience and cultural unity of India, said Manmohan Vaidya, Sah Sarkaryavah of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in Bengaluru on Friday.
Briefing the press before the commencement of the two-day Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the highest decision making body of the RSS, Vaidya said, "The idea of a welfare state is still prevalent in many countries and the government takes care of its citizens during the crises. But India has a unique characteristic. Even as the government machinery, with its frontline workers—medical fraternity, safai karamcharis and police machinery—worked hard to tackle the crisis, with many losing their lives too, the society was equally involved in mitigating the crisis situation. This is because India's idea of rashtra is different from the notion of a nation state and is independent of the political system. It has stood the test of time, even through the centuries of colonial rule."
Elaborating on the role of the RSS volunteers in tackling the pandemic, Vaidya said, "The Swayamsevaks through Seva Bharati were actively involved in various activities during the lockdown, despite knowing they could get infected with the coronavirus. As many as 5.70 lakh karyakartas served at 92,656 locations in the country, distributed ration to 73 lakh needy persons, gave food packets to 4.5 crore people, distributed 90 lakh masks and donated 60,000 units of blood."
'Sangh network expanding'
Stating that the Sangh network was fast expanding throughout the country, and that almost 90 per cent of the RSS shakhas had youths, Vaidya said, "The shakhas are present in all the districts, across 6,495 taluks (khands). There are 58,500 mandals (a unit comprising 10-12 villages) in the country. Of this, only 40 per cent of the mandals have active shakhas and in the next three years all the mandals will have functional shakhas. We have three categories of shakhas—for students, for the employed under 40 years and those above 40. But only 11 per cent of shakhas belong to the above 40 category while 90 per cent of shakhas are for those under 40 years, of which student shakhas account for 60 per cent”.
Expressing happiness over the success of the Ram Mandir Nidhi Samarpan Abhiyan, Vaidya said the campaign helped bind the people of the country.
"Even those who did not believe Ram as bhagwan (god), but considered him as the cultural icon of the land, became part of the campaign. Ram Mandir is not just a temple as Ram is the representative of the cultural ethos of the country,” Vaidya said. He recalled that in 1951, during the foundation laying ceremony of Somnath Temple, the then Vice President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad had said that temples were the centres of cultural renaissance.
“He had said that the task of Mandir nirman will be complete only when India reaches the pinnacle of glory both in terms of economic growth and cultural ethos. In this aspect, the Ram Mandir Abhiyan, too, has been an effort to unite the country," he said.
"Around 20 lakh swayamsevaks reached out to nearly 12.5 crore people across more than 5.45 lakh locations in the country as part of the Abhiyan," Vaidya added.
The ABPS hopes to pass a resolution to acknowledge and thank the society for responding positively during the pandemic and the way Indian government helped other countries (India provided vaccines to 71 countries) during the pandemic.
Another resolution will be on the unity expressed in the country during the Ram Mandir Nidhi Samarpan Abhiyan.