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The Sangh Parivar (Hindi: संघ परिवार, translation: Family of Organisations) refers to the family of organisations of Hindu nationalists which have been started by members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or are inspired by its ideas. The Sangh Parivar represents the Hindu nationalist movement. It includes the RSS and several dozen smaller organisations, whose members' expressed opinions have been diverse over a range of topics. Nominally, the different organizations within the Sangh Parivar run independently and have different policies and activities.
The Sangh Parivar includes the following organisations (1998 membership figures in brackets):
- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), literally, Indian People's Party (23m)
- Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, literally, Indian Farmers' Association (8m)
- Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, literally, Indian Labour Association (10 million as on 2009)
- Fishermen's Co-op Societies (2.2m)
- Vivekananda Medical Mission (1.7m)
- Akhil Bharatiya Shaikshik Mahasangh, literally, All India Indian Teachers organisation (1.8m)
- Seva Bharti (na)
- Bharatiya Vikas Parishad (1.8m)
- Deen Dayal Shodh Sansthan (1.7m)
- Rashtra Sevika Samiti, literally, National Volunteer Association for Women (1.8m)
- Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, literally, All India Students' Forum (2.8m)
- Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha- Youth wing of BJP (1.8m)
- Shikha Bharati (2.1m)
- Vishwa Hindu Parishad, World Hindu Council (2.8m)
- Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, literally, Hindu Volunteer Association – overseas wing
- Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Nativist Awakening Front
- Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Nursery
- Vidya Bharati, Educational Institutes
- Lok Bharti, National NGO's Front
- Dharm Jagaran, Organization of Monks & sanyasi
- Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, Organisation for the improvement of tribals
- Muslim Rashtriya Manch, Organisation for the improvement of Muslims
- Bajrang Dal, Army of Hanuman (2m)
- Bharat-Tibet Maitri Sangh, India-Tibet Friendship Association
- Anusuchit Jati-Jamati Arakshan Bachao Parishad, Organisation for the improvement of Dalits
- Sanskar Bharati, Organisation of artists
- Sahkar Bharati, Organisation of co-operatives
- Adhivakta Parishad, Lawyers' association
- Vit Salahkar Parishad, Financial consultants' association
- Seva Bharati, Organisation for service of the needy (founded in 1984)
- Bharatiya Vichara Kendra, think tank
- Bhartiya Itihas Sankalana Yojana
- Deendayal Research Institute
- Vishwa Samvad Kendra, spread all over India for media related work, having a team of IT professionals (samvada.org)
- Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, a sociocultural organisation with the aim to spread the knowledge of Gurbani to the indian society.
- Central Hindu Military Education Society to encourage more Hindus to join the Defence Services
- Hindu Munnani
In the 1960s, the volunteers of the RSS joined the different social and political movements in India, including the Bhoodan, a land reform movement led by prominent Gandhian Vinobha Bhave and the Sarvoday led by another Gandhian Jayaprakash Narayan. RSS also supported the formation of a trade union, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and a student's organisation Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and many other organisations like Seva Bharati Lok Bharti, Deendayal Research Institute etc.
These organisations started and supported by the RSS volunteers came to be known collectively as the Sangh Parivar. Next few decades have seen a steady growth in the influence of the Sangh Parivar in the social and political space of India.
The ideology of the Sangh Parivar has been seen to have a diverse set of thoughts and opinions that has made it difficult to be categorized by the Western stereotypic divisions of ‘Leftists’ and ‘Rightists’. While some of their policies are seen as ‘Conservative’ and ‘Rightist’, on a range of different issues, they have shared similar concerns as Leftists, Liberals and the Green activists.
Culture and diversity
Sangh ideologue M S Golwalkar articulated the Sangh’s vision on diversity and pluralism, as follows, “Individuals and nations in all parts of the globe have distinctive traits and features, each of them having its own place in the scheme of the universe. The different human groups are marching forward, all towards the same goal, each in its own way and in keeping with its own characteristic genius. The destruction of the special characteristics, whether of an individual, or of a group, will therefore not only destroy the natural beauty of harmony but also its joy of self-expression. Evolution of human life also, which is a multifaced one, is retarded thereby.”
The political opponents of the Sangh Parivar have often termed Sangh Parivar’s concerns about cultural intrusion by the Western commercial interests as ‘Rightist’. But as David Frawley has pointed out the cause is similar to the cause of native and tribal peoples all over the world, like Native American and African groups, who too are trying to protect their native cultures. The cause of the natives is supported by Liberals in America.
While the BJP governments have been progressively seen to be industry friendly, the opinions and the views of the Sangh Parivar constituents like Bharateeya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) find consonance with the known Leftist stands on labor rights. The Sangh Parivar, as a whole, even the BJP in its earlier days, has advocated ‘Swadeshi’ (Self Reliance). Sangh Parivar leaders have been very vocal in their criticism of Globalization especially its impact on the poor and native people. They have been suspicious of the role of International agencies such as World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Sangh constituents have advocated and promoted decentralized village centric economic growth with emphasis on ecological protection.
The constituents of the Sangh Parivar have been known for their demands for steps to “protect the environment, natural-ecology and agro-economy” and for establishment of a “self-reliant village-oriented economy”. They have been vocal in their demand against the use of Chemical fertilizers and have supported preservation and development of Organic farming in India. Many of these views are seen to mirror the concerns of the Green party.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, a constituent of Sangh Parivar, is one of the very few political party at that included the concerns on Climate Change in its election manifesto for the National Elections of 2009. The manifesto promised prioritising "Combating climate change and global warming", "programmes to arrest the melting of Himalayan glaciers", "afforestation" and emphasis on "protecting India's biodiversity".
The Sangh Parivar has been described with monikers spanning the spectrum from "patriotic Hindus" and "Hindu nationalist", to Saffron terrorists. Some Marxists have also labeled them "Hindu chauvinist". While its constituent organisations present themselves as embedded in the traditional ethos of Hinduism, their ideological opponents have characterized them as the representatives of authoritarian, xenophobic and majoritarian religious nationalism in India. Flemish freelance Indologist Koenraad Elst has dismissed the portrayal of Sangh Parivar's ideology as fascist by some leftist groups. He writes in his doctoral thesis, which is now published as a book The Saffron Swastika, “So far, the polemical arrows have all been shot from one side, replies from the other side being extremely rare or never more than piecemeal”.
The activities of the Sangh Parivar have had considerable social and religious impact.
The voluntary organisations which are part of the Sangh Parivar, today run more than one lakh service projects in remote areas of the country mostly within the economically and socially neglected sections of the society.[unreliable source]
In 1979, the religious wing of the Sangh Parivar, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad got the Hindu saints and religious leaders to reaffirm that untouchability and caste discrimination had no religious sanction in the Hindu scriptures and texts. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is also spearheading efforts to ordain Dalits as priests in temples across India, positions that were earlier usually occupied only by people of "upper castes". However, the opinions of the sub altern groups that include Dalits portrays an image of dalit suppression. Incidents of anti-Dalit, and anti-Muslim violence followed by protests against the Sang Parivar are common occurrences in India.
The leaders of the Sangh Parivar have also been involved in the campaigns against female fetocide and movements for the education to the girl child. However, consistent with its ideology of Brahmanical Patriarchy, outfits of the Sang Parivar also enforces its beliefs on people through moral policing. Incidents of violence against youth, especially women, on the pretext of dressing against the norms of the hindu culture, are prevalent among members of the Sang Parivar.
Social and political empowerment
The service programs, over the years, have led to the empowerment of the economically and socially underprivileged sections of the society, mostly the tribal, who have long remained politically under-represented. Babulal Marandi belonging to the tribal community, who was the organizing secretary of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, became the first Chief Minister of the state of Jharkhand. Other such leaders of Sangh Parivar who belong to the tribal community include Karia Munda, Jual Oram; both ministers in the Union Government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The emergence of the Sangh Parivar in Indian politics also brought many Dalits and representatives of the backward classes, who had been victims of social neglect, to prominent positions in the Government and Administration. Dr Suraj Bhan, a dalit, who had been a member of the RSS, became the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, in 1998. Other leaders of the Sangh Parivar from the backward classes, who rose to prominence include Kalyan Singh, the former Chief Minister of UP, Uma Bharti, the former Chief Minister of MP, Narendra Modi, the incumbent Prime Minister of India, Gopinath Munde, the former Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, and Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the incumbent Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.
The Sangh Parivar has spread Hindu nationalism through local "Bhagat schools", in which children are provided a Sangh-sanctioned education. In many villages across India, Dharma Raksha Samitis (Duty/Relegion Protection Committees) promote religious discourse and form an arena for bhajan performance. The Sangh sponsors calendars of Hindu deities and provides instruction on sanctioned methods of conducting Ganesh Chaturthi and Navaratri. This phenomenon has been documented in Tamil Nadu, where workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Munnani share Tamil dalits (untouchables) devotional hymns and persuaded many dalits to begin celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival not widely marked in Tamil Nadu.
Deendayal Research Institute
Veteran RSS leader Nanaji Deshmukh retired from politics at the peak of his political career in 1977 and founded the Deendayal Research Institute, dedicated to building a rural based economic model of development. It was found that rural people were wasting a lot of resources in litigations, which left them both impoverished and exploited. Deshmukh and the Institute developed a method of sorting conflicts and differences based on the ancient Indian principles of consensus making and alternate conflict resolution, which has been called the Litigation-Free Model. Based on this model, villagers would sort all disputes amongst themselves amicably with least dependence on the Government. The initiative has been highly praised, e.g. by Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Prominent industrialist, Jehangir Wadia, the grandson of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, is influenced by the work of Sangh organisation, Deen Dayal Research Institute (DRI), and is now a volunteer of the DRI. He says "At 26, I realised that while I was seeking responses to my questions, the answer was always in front of me. That's when I joined Nanaji and got involved in social work at Chitrakoot,"  "Nanaji (founder of DRI) envisions self reliance for 600,000 villages in his life time. It is my dream to translate Nanaji's vision of ameliorating the lives of this rural population." 
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which represents the Sangh Parivar in national politics, has formed three governments in India, most recently being in power from May 2014 under the leadership of prime minister Narendra Modi.
Political opponents of the BJP allege that the party's moderate face merely serves to cover the Sangh Parivar's "hidden agenda" of undiluted Hindutva, detectable by the BJP's efforts to change the content of history textbooks and syllabi as well as other aspects of the education system.
Such criticism of the BJP arises from the fact that BJP had only 2 seats in the parliament in 1984 and after Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 the party gain national recognition, and only then it rose to power in 1998.[full citation needed]
According to the report of the Liberhan Commission the Sangh Parivar organised the destruction of the Babri Masjid. The Commission said- "The blame or the credit for the entire temple construction movement at Ayodhya must necessarily be attributed to the Sangh Parivar". It also noted that the Sangh Parivar is an "extensive and widespread organic body", which encompasses organizations, which address and bring together just about every type of social, professional and other demographic grouping of individuals.
Each time, a new demographic group has emerged, the Sangh Parivar has hived off some of its RSS inner-core leadership to harness that group and bring it within the fold, enhancing the voter base of the Parivar.
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