It dates back to 1976, emergency times! RSS was banned; hence, the meeting point of Swayamsevaks – the shakha - was banned. We had discovered many ways to overcome this difficulty. Our contacts were intact and newer contacts were made through these channels. One of them was the Jolly Volley Ball Club we had started in our Mumbai suburb. We stretched the net and started playing. Soon the entire gang of RSS volunteers started gathering there. Just by the side of the ground, there was a hut with hardly any amenities. Any other zopadi of any zopadapatti in Mumbai was 30 times better than that. A small statured boy used to stay there with his mother. We dragged this Suryakant in our club who brought in his slightly better off friend Ramesh. They got fully immersed in the spirit of RSS then.
In 1981 June I left Mumbai to come back to it only in 2010 for a brief one year. Ramesh had expired in a tragic accident. Our gang still mourns him. Suryakant had disappeared from Mumbai and there was no trace. In 2016 beginning, as is the common experience now Facebook united a lot of old friends, I also discovered that Suryakant had settled in Pune and got in touch with him and went to his house. I saw the same diminutive boy, with same innocent and pure face politely greeting me in a 1400 sq feet house in a richer area in the heart of Pune. He knew enough about me – my long tribal stint, my successful medical career, and the volume I had written on RSS – Lost Years of the RSS. I knew nothing about him.
Surya worked hard against all the vicissitudes of poverty in Mumbai, educated himself, passed the recruitment examination of State Bank of India and was placed in a bastion of some of the most powerful leaders of Indian National Congress and the other offspring of the same. He did not use his caste to get into the job, since as he said his RSS sanskaras would not let him do it. Although he said this to me I still did not know what his caste was. This was also because my RSS background would not allow me to do that. Going further it will not occur to me to ask this but that is another story.
For twenty-two years, working in SBI right opposite these leaders Surya uninterruptedly carried the work of RSS, sent both his sons to RSS to get them properly acculturated. His sons were given proper education. Both became software engineers, shifted from the posh but small town to Pune for jobs. One has already shifted to America, married, with a child. The second one is unable to decide where to go since a couple of Western European and a Scandinavian country want him to come and work there. Surya shifted to Pune a couple of years ago, purchased this house, large enough to remain a joint family.
Surya’s family belongs to a place bordering two Talukas of Pune district. They are farmers. They were quite poor for many years. Surya slowly stitched it together and made it into a viable proposition. That was a story by and by. When we met sometime in January of 2016 the situation of the drought in Maharashtra was severe. State Chief Minister Devendra Phadnavis had gone all out on a limb to revive the rivers, build tanks, small bunds and clearing all the traditional sources of storage to collect what water may fall on the earth in the Monsoon to come. Surya had already opened the perennial well he had in his field for the village to mitigate the situation of the villagers in the draught. He visited the government officials to get them to build a small bund to create a reservoir for the village even when two and a half acre of his own land would have got submerged. They did not respond. One of the officers called him aside and said – “you have given the scheme in writing. Now do not go after the Babus. They will harass you and extract money. Instead, keep quiet. A time will come when they will come to your doorstep and request you to give permission to build. It happened the same way.
With all this Surya remains unaffected. Not even visibly proud. The talk shifts to RSS and the victory of Modi.
“Now a day’s, especially after coming to Pune I am not active in day to day working. RSS has grown big enough, newer generations have come and it does not particularly need me or us. If it does we are there ready. And now we have a powerful central government and a man like Modi as PM. All that we worked for, over such long years has started giving us the fruits.
“Sometimes I wonder whether it is all true. India was such a down and out a country and today our PM calls the most powerful man in the world by his first name, teaches him some Yog. He has gone around the world making big people, prime ministers his personal friends. Improvement in bilateral relations etc is fine. The former is astonishing.”
The fulfilment of a lifetime is playing on the face of this old young friend of mine. His acculturation in RSS has remained intact, has gone way up in lustre. Surya repeatedly refers to it. Then he suddenly turns to me and asks me – “Doctorji, (I am his senior by half a dozen years, more educated and as he knows from the past, the leader of the gang in many ways), have you ever thought of the personal success Modiji has got with hundreds of people across the world?”
Curious about the turn of the conversation I say not really.
“I will tell you what I think is the reason. I have some idea that there are set, formal and rigid ways in which one is looked at or one is expected to behave at those levels. Modiji’s behaviour must be like a RSS Swayamsevak even at that level. No personal interest. Commitment to a higher cause! The convincing and not contrived sincerity of purpose, the native affection an RSS man feels for the others! In short, and at least I have no doubt, the thoroughbred RSS man.”
Surya told me this in Marathi. I beg the reader to believe me when I say that this is not a fictional Swayamsevak created by me to give expression of what I think Modi does. He is real. Living! He has said this. If anyone wants to see what the pure RSS is look at this man – a poor Kunbi Maratha Farmer to start with, a lifelong RSS worker since.
You will not go to harm if you lower the reflex shield of your suspicion and the metropolitan guard in believing this story. We need more such stories to once again start believing in the man making machine Dr Hedgewar invented.