Nagpur: With incidents like Dadri lynching sparking outrage, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat today said "small episodes" that "get exaggerated" cannot damage Hindu culture and the country will always "stand as one".
"Small episodes happen. They get exaggerated and presented in a big way... Small incidents keep happening but these cannot distort Indian culture, Hindu culture. Since time immemorial, it respects diversity, coordinates among diversities to establish unity... This is Hindutva," he said.
"Our country has stood as one and will stand as one. The Sangh has been doing the work of keeping the nation one on the basis of Hindutva for the last 90 years," he said in his annual Dussehra address here which was telecast by Doordarshan live for the second year in a row.
Bhagwat, however, refrained from making any direct reference to recent incidents of communal and caste tensions. He praised the Narendra Modi government for lifting the country from the mood of "dispondency" and "creating an atmosphere of "hope and confidence" in the country, while enhancing its standing on the global stage.
"Two years ago there was an atmosphere of despondency. Now we are not worried. An atmosphere of hope and confidence has been created now, so expectations are high," he said, adding
Swachh Bharat, Mudra Bank, Jan Dhan Yojana and surrender of gas subsidy are "good omen".
"However, pulling the economy out of the abyss takes some time," he said.
With his call for a review of reservation having set off a political storm that could harm BJP's prospects in the ongoing Bihar polls, Bhagwat began his 55-minute speech by invoking Dalit icon B R Ambedkar whom he credited for making provisions in the Constitution to remove social and economic inequality faced by the weaker sections.
The BJP has tied up with Dalit leader Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP and Mahadalit Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha in Bihar and has hopes of consolidation of the votes of the weaker sections in its favour.
With several fringe Hindutva elements repeatedly demanding a curb on Muslim population, Bhagwat, without naming any community, favoured a "uniform population policy which is applicable to all".
He deplored that no holistic discussion has taken place in the country on controlling population.
"With rise in population, the burden on the country will grow. Population growth can be an asset too. If we have more mouths to feed, we will also have more hands to work. We have to plan for 50 years hence. How to provide for the education and health of the people," he said.
Referring to rapid population growth, Bhagwat called for a dialogue to change the mindset of the people as mere enactment of laws was not enough.
He said RSS "united" the society on its three beliefs of "Hindu culture, Hindu forefathers and Hindu land" pervading the Indian nation and insisted that this is the "only way".
"These three beliefs that unite our society will have to be established. This is what the Sangh has been working for. This is the only way that will result in something. This is the time," he said as he asked people to join RSS as volunteers.
Bhagwat lauded the Modi government's performance on the global stage.
"A balance has to be struck...as we extend our hand of friendship, we have to protect our own interests too. This is what we are doing today," he said.
"In times of crises and natural disasters like the earthquake in Nepal, water crisis in Maldives or evacuation of people of various other countries from war-torn Yemen, India played a good role," the RSS chief said.
"Today, India's Yoga, Geeta and Tathagat are being discussed the world over," he said.
Bhagwat said India's external security was threatened by "enmity-minded" Pakistan and "expansionist" China, besides emergence of fundamentalist organisations like ISIS.
"We have to guard against them. Some young people are also getting misguided by the ISIS ideology."
In his speech, Bhagwat repeatedly called for a dialogue for settling contentious issues.
Apparently referring to the Rajasthan High Court's recent ruling declaring "Santhara", the Jain practice of voluntary fast-unto-death, as a punishable offence, a judgement which was later stayed by the Supreme Court, Bhagwat said, "There are Acharyas in every religion. There should be discussion with them before any change is made to their traditions....it hurts people."
Amid accusations of attempts at saffronisation of the education system, Bhagwat said there was a need for reforming the sector to make it affordable to the common man.
"Commercialisation of education must stop. In the present times, a common man cannot even dream of pursuing many courses. The country cannot progress with education that only helps fill the stomach. It should be based on the social needs, it should inculcate values and conscientiousness," he said.
Calling for "greater synergy" among the government, administration and the society, Bhagwat said feedback from the ground was necessary for policies to succeed.
"There should be feedback on how your policies are unfolding on the ground. They should be executed properly and for that dialogue is needed a lot. You made policy, issued an order but is the working happening? You will have to keep a watch. Dialogue is needed a lot... You will have to unify the society and raise its quality. People at the top are thinking about it, they have direction but to make it happen on the ground we all will have to work with synergy," he said.
He called for reform in the electoral system. "There is a need for a mechanism to prevent the electoral system from becoming a cause of corruption. People who get elected should be true representatives of the society," he said.
Bhagwat also stressed on the need for simplification of the tax structure and strengthening of public health.
"As the nation cannot be developed just by government and society also has to do its bit, the Sangh too cannot do its work for the nation alone and others should also join in the endeavour," he said.
Bhagwat insisted "the timeless ancient Indian culture that accepts all and practises unity in diversity is the Hindu culture or Hindutva for the Sangh".