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.
Laxmibai Kelkar was the founder of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti. Before establishing the organization, Kelkar visited Dr. 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 the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh itself. Hedgewar, though, continued to restrict membership of the RSS to men. However, Hedgewar did advise Laxmibai Kelkar to establish an entirely separate organization that would be autonomous and independent of the RSS, as both groups were ideologically identical. Hedgewar promised Kelkar unconditional solidarity, support and guidance for the Samithi. Following this, Kelkar established the 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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