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Disaster Relief and The RSS

Disaster Relief and The RSS
Resurrecting 'Religion' Through Humanitarianism

First Edition

December 2019 | 268 pages | SAGE India
Disaster Relief and the RSS: Resurrecting 'Religion' Through Humanitarianism studies the political implications of the humanitarian work of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) by examining the institution of seva (service) in disaster situations. This book provides a refreshingly new perspective of the RSS by recognizing its ‘compassionate’ aspects and understanding its appeal from the point of view of its benefactors. It examines the religious, moral, intellectual and instrumental heritage of seva and discusses the possible reasons for its continual resurrection in modern India. 

By highlighting the under-analysed aspects of the moral complexity of evaluating the RSS’s humanitarian work, the book provokes the larger question of whether there is a need to move beyond the stereotypical understanding of Hindutva as a challenge to liberal democratic principles. It attempts to nudge the reader towards some of the limitations of the ‘secular’ and the repercussions of the political project of secularism to suppress and de-recognize the non-secular experience.

Disaster Relief in India: 'Religious', 'Secular' and Those ‘in Between’
Unpacking a Homonym: Seva and Its Multiple Meanings
'Nation Building' through Seva
Seva after the 'Super Cyclone': The Case of UBSS in Odisha
Building a ‘Hindu’ Rashtra in Post-Earthquake Kutch

“This book is one of the finest attempts to synthesize theoretical approaches and empirical evidence to explain the notion of secularism, the anxieties we face today in religious coexistence and the threat that the Hindu Right poses to India's social fabric and to the country's political structure.”

The Telegraph, Kolkata, 23 August 2019

“A worthy addition… which is substantiated by both primary and secondary sources, and has a clearly stated conclusion.”

DNA, 20 July 2019

“The book has valuable case studies of the RSS’ relief efforts in Odisha… The author’s scholarly approach successfully establishes how humanitarism opens up the political space and opportunities that RSS used successfully.”

Business Standard, 29 August 2019
Key features
• The approach of this book stands in contrast to the dominant approaches to understand Hindu nationalism in India. 

• It analyses humanitarianism as a ‘creative form of mobilization’ that helps the Sangha enlist support from unexpected quarters.

• A specific focus on seva provides a useful entry point to investigate some of the reasons for the overwhelming popularity of Hindutva in recent times.

• The book analyses disaster sites as platforms for competing political mobilizations in which the state facilitates and negotiates the role of the ‘non-state’ actors for achieving its own agenda.

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ISBN: 9789353285517