Last fortnight saw two debuts: One, the nation for the first time thronged the streets on the issue of gender. Two, RSS Supremo Mohan Bhagwat’s moment of epiphany was well timed, like never before, for the nation to reflect upon his misogyny and sexism. Bhagwat, within a span of three days, came up with two significant statements: a rapist prefers ‘Indian’ women over ‘Bharatiya’ women and a woman must satisfy her husband for food, shelter and protection. The Rashtra Sevika Samiti, the RSS’s women wing, with 55,000 shakhas all over the country, not just ascribes to the above tenets but also holds camps and indoctrinates thousands of girls-toddlers, adolescents and old— to propagate the idea of a ‘culturally sanitised’ Hindu rashtra and the patriarchal roles it offers women to conform.
The rubber slippers were neatly lined outside the assembly hall. Thirty eight pairs, I counted. The multi-coloured chalks decorated the blackboard, next to the shut door, that announced, ‘12th December, Swadeshi Diwas, Akhil Bhartiya Pracharika Abhyas Varg, Sambhajinagar.’ This, one of the many, three day training camp for the Pracharikas of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti commenced just a day before Gujarat went to polls. A sudden cacophony of hurried footsteps broke the silence, that was powerfully guarded by the hillocks of Jatwada village, 25 km from Aurangabad district for Arya Chanakya Vidyadham, the venue for the this training camp.