Rich techies on weekend ‘guilt’ trips to Sangh

published on May 19, 2008


Bangalore: IT executive Shrichand Kaushik, 25, doesn’t waste his Saturdays and Sundays at parties or spas. He heads to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh office for a bout of soul-searching.

Neither does Guru Prasad, a young Infosys employee, spend the weekend watching the IPL boys and girls or lazing about the house. He, too, makes it to the Sangh state headquarters, where he can meet Lokesh B.H. and M.P. Kumar, the CEOs of Ratna Rai Infotech and Global Edge Solutions.

They are all regulars at the IT milan , held on the lines of the Sangh parivar’s Diwali and Holi milans.

Every fortnight for the past one year, scores of young Bangalore techies have been gathering at these meetings, feeling sheepish about skipping their share of the daily shakhas and hoping to exorcise the guilt through the milans.

The meetings end with the members singing the Sangh anthem, “Namaste sadaa, vatsale mathrubhoomi (salutations, ever-loving motherland)”, their right hand placed over the chest. Some of the wealthy yuppies even turn out in the Sangh’s khaki knickers.

Most are aged between 25 and 35, and include junior, middle-level and senior executives, some of them already millionaires. Word of mouth has increased the attendance from around 25 at the beginning to about 100.

They discuss the issues of the day and not business or office politics, and wonder if it’s worth their while stashing up the bucks if they cannot “share a part of it with society”.

The guilt trips that the gatherings are have sometimes yielded tangible results, like a corpus for scholarships for poor but “bright and meritorious” students.

Some of the techies’ attraction is born out of faith in the Sangh’s ideology of a “strong nation”. For others, the “sanitised” lifestyle of the swayamsevak (Sangh volunteer) is an ideal to aspire to.

Few of them would admit they see the Sangh as a springboard to a political career in the BJP. But the enthusiasm with which they have virtually taken over the party’s central election office makes one wonder if the impulse is merely “social service”.

The milans may be a fortnightly business, but with the Karnataka polls drawing near, the BJP’s Malleshwaram office in the heart of Bangalore is overrun with the IT boys at any time of the day.

They have created a portal that is a political analyst’s dream. The databases are so well updated that a click will tell you which leader is campaigning where and when, apart from other sundry details.

In their oversized bush shirts and jeans, the clean-shaven techies with their crew cuts stand out from the tilak-wearing Sangh-BJP worker in kurta-pyjamas.

Oozing attitude and flitting from room to room, the boys refer to the senior leaders by their first names. Arun Jaitley is “Arunji” for party officials but to the IT lads, he’s just Arun, a “pioneer and practitioner of IT in politics”.

The Kaushiks and Prasads speak with as much authority on the state elections, and how poorly the Congress and H.D. Deve Gowda’s party are placed, as on ancient Indian history — or their versions of it. They claim to know as much about the future of the Sangh as about that of the IT industry.

“Anything modern need not be western,” says Kumar, arguing globalisation and the Sangh are “perfectly compatible”.

Asked how many techies are in the Sangh, the answer ranges from 2,000 to 1 lakh, including those from Mysore and Mangalore, the state’s other IT hubs.

But, Lokesh explains, the IT milans are confined to small, “manageable

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