This blog post is an unbiased review of the book. It is not a political commentary.
[su_quote]The Saffron Flag, commonly known as, ‘Bhagwa Dhwaj’, is considered to be the ‘Guru’ by all Swayamsevaks [/su_quote]
What is the book about?
“Know about RSS” is written by Arun Anand. This book is an attempt to fill the knowledge gap about RSS and provide information about the RSS functions and its organizational structure.
What does this book cover?
The first half of “Know about RSS” explores the organizational structure, its origins, its inner workings and its credo. The second half of this book gets into the lives of its six Sarsanghchalaks (chiefs). This is mostly driven by anecdotes. The book ends with a reprinting of the RSS constitution and the timeline of the RSS.
What did I like?
I felt that this book was non-controversial by its adherence to quoting facts about the RSS or statements made by members of the RSS. In that sense, this book achieved most of its purpose by shedding light into this organization. By sticking to bland facts, the book is also reasonably unbiased, which is certainly an achievement given the standing of the RSS.
The other aspects of the book that I liked were its deep dive into the history of the RSS and its key members. The timeline at the end does a good job of pulling together most of this history in a concise form.
What did I not like?
I would have loved to see the Sangh Parivar explored in more detail. I think most of us would be interested in knowing how the BJP – RSS and VHP – RSS relationships have changed with time, for example. Arun Anand has said that this will be explored in a later book but I feel that no conversation about the RSS is complete without looking at its politics.
I would have also liked to have seen some content on controversies, debacles and achievements of the RSS. This would have rounded off the historical context of this organization.
The lives of the leaders, unfortunately, read like a propaganda piece (like what happens to all leaders and politicians in India). I would have liked to see a more detailed, less anecdote-heavy version of the leaders’ lives and what they achieved.
“Know about RSS” is a good book because it does give us some insights into the RSS. But this only serves to whet our appetite.
It is worth reading if you want to find out a bit more about the RSS but this is certainly not a definitive book.
Also published on Medium.