RSS swaps leather for nylon

via PTI published on March 22, 2011

New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) When thousands of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activists perform their physical drills this summer, their trademark uniform will have a small but historic change with the leather belts being replaced with synthetic ones. With an estimated nearly 60 lakh swayamsevaks nationwide, the organisation is working on a war footing to provide them all with the nylon belts before the start of the year’s first officers training camps in April, a senior leader said. “Most of the swayamsevaks have got the new belts.

The uniform wing of the RSS is working to ensure that the remaining ones get it before the start of this year’s training camps”, senior RSS leader Ram Madhav told PTI. Though the RSS has used the leather belt with brass buckle for nearly six decades, it was decided to bring about a change and replace them with synthetic ones and steel buckles at the recent meet of the organisation’s’ highest decision making body –the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha –at Bangalore. Even though the accessory was made of animal hide, the Sangh’s condition was that the leather used in preparing belts for its cadres should not be of slaughtered animals. “For many years, senior leaders as well as ordinary party workers have wanted to change the leather belt, arguing that it does not blend well with the ethos/image of RSS as the product was from animal hide. This time we reached upon a consensus to change it once and for all”, another senior RSS functionary said. A top RSS functionary said swayamsevaks of the level of sarsangchalak or a new recruit used to compete to shine their belts and show off its gleam at functions. “I remember an incident in which my elder brother, senior to me in the RSS cadre also, was angry at me for wearing his belt at a function, due to which he could not be in (purna ganvesh) full uniform”, said Vaghesh Issar, an RSS functionary in the Capital. A senior functionary from the Ahmedabad shakha narrated an incident concerning with another swayamsevak who, during the floods in 2005, was swept away in the gushing waters but used his belt buckle as a hook and hung on to some object till he was rescued.

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