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Despite the negative media attention, RSS forges forward: Here’s why

As a young woman and as a working professional in New India, I am not personally associated with the RSS. In fact, I am a complete outsider from America. I was not even a part of the RSS when I lived overseas either. But as an active journalist in India today, I am appalled at the lack of media attention the RSS is getting, especially the women.

As this COVID19 pandemic continues, many organizations have stepped up to help those in need. Individuals have also taken proper precautions and fearlessly gone out to distribute food, water and supplies. What is even better to see is that women, despite having families at home, are deciding to put the nation first. A lot of these individuals and firms have been highlighted in the media for their work. This is justified because their contribution to the country is the need of the hour. But there is one large organization that is helping in multiple ways across India but is not getting credit.

It’s not just about distributing supplies. What is more effective is surveying the area and figuring out what people need most during the pandemic. It was none other than married women who were a part of the RSS that stepped up and made sure surveys were conducted in multiple villages across India. Putting the country even before their own families, these women organized volunteers to ask people what supplies they needed, including whether they had clothes, if facilities like maternity wards were available for health emergencies (ie. childbirth) and whether promised COVID19 reimbursement from the government had reached Jan Dhan accounts. Once the survey was conducted, the gap was successfully filled according to the real needs of each respective area. 

These women ground-workers first organized financial aid for supplies. Then, these women went into action mode and delivered food, medicine, clothes, etc.  required for that area. If the area lacked health infrastructure, arrangements were made so that rural women had access to medical care. A doctor was assigned to that vicinity or transportation was made available so that these citizens could safely go to a healthcare facility. These female ground-workers also helped rural citizens activate Jan Dhan accounts. This ensured that people became financially enabled and received their dues. 

For helping with COVID19 emergencies, in addition to food and supply distribution, these women volunteers are also doing something very unique. Ambulance services are being organized in suburban and rural areas. Women and men of the RSS are working together to facilitate teams to organize virtual medical consultations between city doctors and citizens in rural India. Call centers will be set up on a large scale with social distancing and safety guidelines maintained.The call centers act as help-line numbers for citizens with COVID19-related emergencies or questions. Students and young female professionals are encouraged to actively volunteer in these call centers. Infrastructure for a data-gathering team is also on the agenda. Data-gathering specifically focuses on hyper-local ground level statistics. This includes the number of COVID19 positive patients along with medical history. The aim of this data is to give a lay of the land and provide correct numbers to aid the government for further action.

On the education front, it is women associated with the RSS who have been thinking progressively and holistically. In remote areas of the country, hundreds of children have been completely cut off from academia because of the COVID19 pandemic. To date, nothing substantial has been done for them. Women who are working with the RSS are actively developing a model specifically catered to giving these children access to education. The model is being developed keeping technology in mind. Creating an app that is easy to access via smartphones is one option. Coordinating individuals to go to these locations distribute working laptops in person is another option. Setting up a personal computer center is a third option. Organizing the transport of educators to these areas is also being looked into. This initiative will ensure that education stays a priority in these remote areas even after the pandemic is gone. 

Despite all this effort actively taking place by the men and women of the RSS, the organization continues to get bashed constantly by mainstream media. #RSSTerrorists has been a trend multiple times on social media without any factual or objective basis. Most external organizations will make their dismay clear if consistently targeted like this. But the males and females of the RSS continue social work despite criticism and lack of positive media attention. 

Why is this the case? What makes them forge forward? 

It is because being a part of the RSS is believing in the ‘putting the nation first’ideology. This is why married women are going out and surveying areas in need despite having families at home. This is why young female working professionals will undoubtedly devote any spare hours in their day to volunteer at call centers or go out and gather local data. And it is precisely the reason why these men and women expect zero credit in return or any attention from the media for their invaluable work. 

As a young woman and as a working professional in New India, I am not personally associated with the RSS. In fact, I am a complete outsider from America. I was not even a part of the RSS when I lived overseas either. But as an active journalist in India today, I am appalled at the lack of media attention the RSS is getting, especially the women. These individuals are putting the nation before themselves, their relationships and their children. For this reason, I felt that it is a moral duty to write about the critical work they are doing to uplift those in need during a continuing health pandemic. I have the most profound respect for this organization because their work will continue consistently regardless of how negatively media continues to portray them. I am inspired by these women and men because they let their work, rather than their words, prove their genuine commitment to the country. 

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Priyanka Deo
Priyanka Deo is currently an executive producer and anchor at New India Junction. She holds masters’ degrees from Harvard, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Southern California.

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