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Now, shakhas in Rangoon

Now, shakhas in Rangoon

Time of India (New Delhi)
August 1, 2000

NEW DELHI: Myanmar, ruled by the military for the past decade, may soon
witness a different type of khaki: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is
about to open a shakha in Yangon, formerly Rangoon.

According to a report in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the RSS has
decided to restart its activities in Myanmar after a gap of four
decades. Apparently with the blessings of a section of the military
junta, the organisation has begun to rebuild its Yangon branch. The
organisation has apparently convinced the Burmese generals that Hinduism
and Buddhism are "branches of the same tree". General Maung Aye -- The
Burmese army commamder thought to be keen to play India off against big
brother China -- is said to be one of the patrons of the saffron

So is the RSS looking east as part of a plan to restore the former glory
of Akhanda Bharat? The organisation says no, although it does believe
that the "cultural unity" between Buddhism and Hinduism could be an
ideal defence against China.

Although New Delhi has been cultivating Maung Aye, the external affairs
ministry knows nothing about the RSS's new geostrategic venture.

When contacted, RSS pracharak and BJP vice-president JP Mathur said RSS
activity -- sometimes under the name Bharatiya Swayamsevak Sangh or
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh -- has been taking place regularly in many
countries in Europe, America, Africa and Asia. "I myself attended such
camps in Britain and America," Mathur remarked.

So will the people of Burma be treated to the sight of spindly legs
sticking out under ballooning 'knickers' and angry tracts against
Christian missionaries? Only time will tell.