The cover story ‘Operation Babylift’ by Neha Dixit (Outlook, Aug 8), packaged as an investigation over three months, is nothing but the perverted imaginings of a sick mind. It is a fool’s errand to expect such writers to understand the meaning of two profound words—service and virtue. We pity such minds. Dixit repeatedly states that the 31 Bodo/tribal girls, aged three to 11 years, were taken from Assam to hostels in Punjab and Gujarat by Rashtra Sevika Samiti pracharikas; that the girls are made to get up as early as 6 am, perform prarthana (prayer), recite Gayatri mantra, play games inculcating pride in the nation, and chant patriotic salutations like ‘Kashmir hamara hai’. These acts appear devious to Dixit, but most Indian parents will speak of how hard they try to instil these very traditions and values in children, often even hiring teachers.
Dixit admits that the pracharikas who recruit these girls from Bodo areas are themselves Bodos of sterling character, epitomising women’s empowerment, and that local RSS followers who were instrumental in sending the tribal girls had also sent their own daughters with them for education. Many of these girls come back to these tribal areas, become teachers and principals in RSS-run and other schools. They build their communities and clans, live a better life based on this very education. Dixit vilifies this?
All experience points to the good work in education being done for simple tribal people in our country in an attitude of selfless service and nation-building. So it is difficult to fathom what propels this proclivity to slur the Sangh parivar institutions. RSS pracharikas slog 24x7x365 in these areas to spread this gift of education.
Obviously, a depraved mind cannot comprehend such labours, so you conjure a criminality and see the education of poor tribal girls in hostels of different states as “trafficking”. By this yardstick, all parents who send their children to study in hostels in other states are traffickers, as are the institutions educating them.
Since the author seems opinionated and ignorant, let me throw light on the meaning of trafficking: a) Oxford Dictionary—the action or practice of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labour or commercial sexual exploitation; b) Webster’s Dictionary—organised criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited (as by being forced into prostitution or involuntary labour); c) UN protocol defines trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. It goes on to say that exploitation shall include, at minimum, prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices, servitude, or removal of organs. Dixit has been unable to indicate any such form of exploitation.
As for the emphasis on the cover page of the violation of Indian and international laws, Dixit needs to be educated: none of these Indian and international guidelines are violated by RSS outfits. The parents have given their consent for taking their children for education—then how on earth are the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 or other laws applicable? The SC order of 2010 was in connection with orphanages and transportation of 76 Christian girls by missionaries, which is also not applicable in this case.
Remember, you are here talking about the RSS, a mighty stream of moral and ethical conduct. You can have ideological differences, even hatred, but do not slur. The Rashtra Sevika Samiti is the world’s largest women’s organisation, working in tribal and difficult areas of India among people who have no wherewithal to aspire for a better life. Respect it. It is arduous, dedicated work in service of the motherland, that is, Bharat.
(Supreme Court advocate Monika Arora is a member of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti.)
The Rashtra Sevika Samiti was founded by Laxmibai Kelkar in Wardha on October 25, 1936. Set up with the blessings of RSS founder Dr B.K. Hedgewar, it mirrors the RSS’s ideology and practices.