Twenty-three years after the birth of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) became the first organisation of the Sangh school of thought to be founded in 1948. The ABVP has now blossomed into the biggest and most unique student organisation in the country. Its inspiring history has been captured in a two-volume book in Hindi titled Dhyeya Yatra. Compiling it was a labour of love for as many as three decades. The book was recently released by Shri Dattatreya Hosbale, the Sarkaryavah of RSS at an event in Delhi.
The ABVP owes its germination to the exigency of the situation, as the RSS had been banned following Mahatma Gandhi's murder. The RSS had to find a way out to meet the challenge of the ban, as most of its cadre were students and youth and they had to be provided a forum for engagement. Though the ban was lifted in July 1949, ABVP was kept afloat as it fitted the larger goal of the RSS in post-Independence India. In the subsequent years, many such Sangh Parivar organisations were born.
Over time, the ABVP not only grew into a premier students' organisation but evolved as one of its kind across the world.
Registered as a society in July 1949, the ABVP went through several stages of growth. The entry of Mumbai-based Prof Yashwant Rao Kelkar into the organisation sowed the seed that made it a full-blown tree between 1967 and 1987. Thereafter the tree became heavier in terms of its membership, activities, geographical coverage and contribution to the life of the country.
From the very beginning, the ABVP kept itself away from party politics. Constructive activities were to be a matter of faith for it. It inculcated the spirit of selfless service to society amongst students. Cadre-based mass organisation was its dream. Though a student organisation in every respect, it had scope for teachers as long-time members. It gave importance to and entered student unions in colleges and universities. It participated in agitational activities whenever and wherever necessary for ensuring education and academic excellence.
The ABVP made a deep study of students' potential in society and realised that they are no longer citizens of tomorrow but very much that of today. It found that students' power can be the nation's power, which can very well be the watchdog of society's interest. It developed scores of constructive activities through which students could gainfully contribute to the task of nation-building. Today, the ABVP has all shades of students from all areas and of all levels of studies in its fold. Over the last three decades, the ABVP has become an ever-expanding, full-fledged organisation of the highly floating student population, which is providing highly trained and socially committed new generations to the country.
Since it was founded as an arm of the Sangh Parivar to channelise the energies of the new generation, the ABVP saw to it that its cadre was not inferior in quality in comparison to that of the mother organisation. Today, hundreds of ex-ABVPians can be seen playing key roles in different walks of life in the country. They are not only in politics but also in several social organisations of the country. And the best example of that is Shri Dattatreya Hosbale himself. Though he had become a swayamsevak in his early student life, he got into the ABVP and worked in it for over two decades before he was laterally inducted into the RSS in a senior position.
ABVP's contribution to nation-building needs to be properly acknowledged.
(The author is a former president of the ABVP. This article was written to mark the launch of Dhyeya Yatra. Views are strictly those of the author.)