New Delhi: For over nine decades, men in khaki shorts have defined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, an organization that has deeply impacted Indian politics.
The khaki ‘half-pants’ may soon be replaced by trousers, with the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor debating a sartorial change to appeal to the new generation.
The RSS has set up a committee after many senior members suggested that it was time to update the Sangh’s uniform to attract more young people.
“The issue of changing our uniform was brought up during our three-day long meeting of Karyakari Mandal (working panel) in Ranchi, which decided to form a committee… the committee would put forth its recommendations in the next meeting of Pratinidhi Sabha in March at Nagaur in Rajasthan, and a decision will be taken accordingly,” said RSS leader Satish Modh.
In the meeting in Ranchi, several members said the shorts discouraged young people from joining the organization.
“Half-pants are our most reputed and trusted brand. This is why we say that the shorts are famous because of the Sangh and not the other way round,” Mr Modh said.
The RSS describes itself as the world’s largest voluntary organization with six million volunteers. Set up in 1925 as a social organisation, the Sangh insists it is not a political outfit even though the BJP draws some of its top leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah from its cadres.
The regulation knee-length shorts do not distinguish between top leaders and the juniormost worker; BJP icons like former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and several current ministers have been seen in them at RSS events.
Doing away with the flared shorts – which many critics call unstylish – is not a new proposal. It has been discussed at RSS forums for years, but a decision has never been taken.