- RSS gets new uniform, replaces trademark khaki shorts with brown pants
- Sangh elders felt the shorts were deterring young men from joining RSS
- Decision to change uniform announced at RSS meeting in Rajasthan
A 90-year-old tradition is about to become history. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh -- the ideological mentor of the BJP -- announced that it is shedding its old image. The khaki shorts which have symbolised the Sangh for nine decades, will be soon replaced by brown trousers.
The khakhi shorts along with a black cap, white shirt, brown socks and bamboo stick, have been the "ganvesh" -- the trademark uniform of the RSS.
Senior RSS functionary Suresh Josi said, "We have been bringing about changes, but with change in time we felt more changes need to be brought in... so now we have replaced khaki shorts with brown trousers."
"Any mass organisation cannot grow without a change. The RSS has always brought changes to stay in sync with the times," RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya told reporters in Nagaur, where a meeting of its top decision-making body was held.
The Sangh feels the young men today have stopped getting attracted to the RSS mainly because of the uniform. "They were afraid that wearing the baggy shorts will invite teasing. The subject has been under debate for some years," said a senior RSS functionary.
This is not the first time the "ganvesh" was changed. In 2011, the Sangh decided to do away with the leather belts. They were replaced by those made of thick canvas and they were cheaper and easy to maintain.
But this was one of the biggest sartorial shifts in the RSS uniform since the World War I.
Prior to that, the shirts and shorts of RSS were both khaki - the design by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, the first Sarsangchalak of the RSS.
The switch to white shirts from khaki came in 1940, to beat the dictat of the British government which had banned the RSS "ganvesh" and its route marches. During Emergency, the RSS dropped its military-style long boots for black shoes.