Rashtra Sevika Samiti
The Rashtra Sevika Samiti (National Women Volunteers Committee) is a Hindu nationalist women's organisation that parallels the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for men. Even though it is often referred to as the "women's wing" of the RSS, the organisation claims that it is independent of the RSS while sharing its ideology. Membership and leadership is restricted to women and its activities are directed to nationalist devotion and mobilisation of Hindu women.
The current chief of the Samiti is Pramukh Sanchalika V. Shantha Kumari (referred to as "Shanthakka") and Pramukh Karyavahika (general secretary) Sita Annadanam.
Laxmibai Kelkar was the founder of Rashtra Sevika Samiti. Before starting the organization, she visited K.B. Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS, in 1936 and had a long discussion to persuade him regarding the need for starting a women's wing in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh itself. But Hegewar refused to admit women. However, he advised Laxmibai Kelkar to start a separate organization. He also promised to provide all the required support and guidance. Kelkar started Rashtra Sevika Samiti at Wardha on 25 October 1936.
Rashtra Sevika Samiti is today the largest Hindu women's organization working to uphold Indian culture and traditions. RSS women are actively involved in socio-cultural activities. Samiti inculcates a sense of patriotism and social awareness in people. Various types of training camps at different levels in all parts of India are conducted periodically.
Active Shakhas (local branches with regular gatherings of members where they practice yoga, sing nationalist/patriotic songs, military training and have discussions) of the Samiti currently operate in 5215 centers. 875 centers conduct the Shakhas on a daily basis. The estimates of active membership range from 100,000 to 1 million It has overseas branches in 10 countries, which use the name Hindu Sevika Samiti.
Samiti also runs 475 service projects all over India for the poor and underprivileged, without regard to religion, caste, creed, sect, gender, or ethnicity. These include schools, libraries, computer training centers and orphanages.
Rashtra Sevika Samiti focuses on Hindu women's role in the society as leaders and agents of positive social reform. Samiti teaches its members three ideals;
- Matrutva (Universal Motherhood)
- Kartrutva (Efficiency and Social Activism)
- Netrutva (Leadership)
The organization believes that all women have the capability to create a positive change in their community.
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