Youths on the Rise

The Sangh is today a 2nd and 3rd generation organization. Mark Singh of Pasea attended Sangh’s training programs in the 1990s. Today his young daughter and son are participants in the camp.  Mark’s elder brother, Glenn, was introduced to Sangh by his cousin Rudranath Singh and later Mark and his sister, Crystal, became active participants.

Youths on the Rise
Photo : Chanting Hauman Chalisa.

I had the privilege of visiting the Sangh Shiksha Varg (Youth Development Program) of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, now in progress at the Cunupia High School, and was thrilled to see the children of those who were involved in the Sangh in the 1980s in leadership roles.

 Greeting me with namaskar as I entered the camp was Prashanta, daughter of Prakash Singh. Leading in the chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa was Shanta, daughter of Sone Ramnath and as I sat to eat dinner Om Prakash, brother of Prashanta, served me channa and aloo. 

The Sangh is today a 2nd and 3rd generation organization. Mark Singh of Pasea attended Sangh’s training programs in the 1990s. Today his young daughter and son are participants in the camp.  Mark’s elder brother, Glenn, was introduced to Sangh by his cousin Rudranath Singh and later Mark and his sister, Crystal, became active participants.

Photo : Rakhee A. Kissoon, Guidance  Officer speaks on 'No to bullying.

Ramcharan Motilal and Sunil Ramdass of Barrackpore are also in the camp with their children as participants. Sudarshan, another leader in camp, is the son of Ramcharan, one of the seniors of Sangh. Also present are the brother and sister duo, Birendra and Keshri. Hailing from Rio Claro their father, Lalchan Dookie, is a senior leader of Sangh.

Pravesh Rampersad, 26, is a participant in the camp. A project engineer with the Road Development Company of T&T, Pravesh runs a weekly Shakha on the compound of the Amar Jyothi Sabha, Cunupia on Saturdays between 5-6:30 p.m. “Shakha develops the individual all round-physical, intellectual and spiritual,” said Pravesh and continued: “I love working with the Sangh because it seeks a long term solution to social ills. Sangh tackles a problem at its core. It aims at building character-from the individual to the home to the community and to the nation.” 

 “How did you get involved in the Sangh?” I asked. “I was introduced to Sangh by my Uncle Sone Ramnath. He took me to a shakha and I didn’t like it at first. I was wondering what was this flag, what was this prathna… I did not like it but later other youths convinced me that I should keep on coming and I returned and here I am,” said Pravesh.

Yogesh works with the Hindu Prachaar Kendra and is employed at Ram’s Logistics. In January 2019, Yogesh was part of a cast invited by the Ayodhya Research Institute, India, to showcase Ram Leela. “Our performance was well received and moved many to tears,” said Yogesh.

 Yogesh is a trained hiker and has been out on the trails for the past 15 years. “It is part of me to go into nature. My club, Living the Wilderness, conducts public hikes twice per month.” Are Hindu youths active in hiking? I enquired.  “Hindu youths are active in hiking.  More than 25% of hikers in the country are Hindus,” said Yogesh.

As for safety during those hikes, this is what Yogesh had to say: “Safety is important. We carry with us walkie takies and we also inform the nearest police station.” 

Deoroop Teemal is the President of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh. A civil engineer and an Independent Senator, Teemal was among the early recruits to the Sangh Shiksha Varg in the 1980s under the banner of the then Hindu Seva Sangh.

Teemal, conscious of the challenges facing the Hindu community, sees identity as a key issue. “Hindus continue to be stereotyped with caste, cow and curry. This negative campaign is global and is centered in the USA and the UK,” he pointed out.

I asked Teemal if he is satisfied with the responses from the Hindu community to these challenges and he said: “A lot of Hindus are not conversant with the basic tenets to mount an offensive,” and added, “the full impact of Hindu dharma, its universality, that is, its relation with community, ecology and the cosmos, have to be explored fully.”

“The charge that Hindus are unpatriotic is hypocritical. Muslims look up to Mecca and Christians to Jerusalem. No one accuses them of lack of patriotism. India is the holy land of the Hindus and it is an attachment that is integral to our spiritual wellbeing,” he emphasized.

The theme of the Heritage Camp is Love for Country.  Hailing from Sangre Grande, Jagdesh Parray, the camp director, sees the work of the Sangh as critical to correcting some of the social issues in the country..