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RSS Abroad: 'We are striving to keep our culture alive'
[Reproduced from The Times of India, Ahmedabad Edition, Dec 31, 2005.]


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TIMES NEWS NETWORK , Dec 31, 2005.
Gandhinagar: Volunteers of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) settled in various countries have mixed experiences of carrying out their activities abroad — ranging from bans in Gulf countries to the friendly atmosphere in the UK, where even British MPs attend their programmes.

Representatives from more than 32 countries, including the US, the UK, Norway and Sri Lanka, attending the Vishva Sangh Shibir being held here, told newsmen that the sangh has helped them maintain their Indian identity.

“We are striving to preserve, protect and practise Hinduism. At times, we have to face problems related to ethnic minorities there,” they said.

Nilkesh Mehta, settled in UK, is happy that the sangh could hold its shakhas and the local British people, at times, even love to participate in cultural programmes. “We invite even British MPs and government functionaries and they all praise our programmes,” says Mehta.

Darshan Soni, an instrumentation engineer from the US who is here to meet his counterparts from other branches of the RSS across the world, said that “school textbooks in the US contained several errors regarding facts on India and its religions, mainly Hinduism.”

Through the Hindu Education Foundation run by the RSS in California, we have succeeded in correcting the misleading information in text books for primary and secondary classes,” said Soni.

An Indian settled in Durban, Parvesh Hardeen, said Hindus in South Africa were free to carry out religious and spiritual activities as there are no restrictions on Indians who are highly respected as both India and South Africa had a long history of mutual business for decades.

Bhavna Upadhyay, who has come from Norway to join the shibir, said there are about 7,000 Indians there, a majority of them Hindus, many of whom are educating the children about the rich cultural heritage of India. Sri Lankan radio announcer V Kalyane was overjoyed to witness the traditional garba raas and savour Gujarati food at the shibir. 

“I converted from Christianity as it did not give me satisfactory replies to my questions on spirituality. I found the ancient Vedas full of great preaching,” said Gefrey Armstrong, a Canadian, who is attending the shibir along with his wife.

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