RSS chief Bhagwat slams OTT platforms and bitcoin, calls for regulation

Topics Mohan Bhagwat | OTT | RSS

RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat
India’s journey from independence (swatantrata) has been undermined by instruments like bitcoin and over-the- top (OTT) platforms, and the government must regulate these at once. This was the message of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat in his annual Vijayadashami address from Nagpur.

Bhagwat said bitcoin had the potential to destabilise economies across the globe including the Indian economy, and that OTT platforms enabled “unregulated broadcasts of varied material for everyone’s indiscriminate consumption”. The absence of prudence and a regulatory framework, Bhagwat said, made it hard to predict the extent of damage, especially to children.

This is the first reference by the RSS chief to the two issues, which the government is trying to deal with. The ban on bitcoin was overturned by the Supreme Court. And OTT guidelines are in the making even as RSS affiliates agitate for stricter regulatory oversight.

In his address, Bhagwat also repeated an earlier resolution passed by the RSS in 2015 on a population policy, suggesting the Sangh was still wedded to its commitment to a national population register. He asked the Centre to devise a national population policy at the earliest.

“Vast differences in growth rates of different religious groups, infiltration, and conversion resulting in religious imbalance of the population ratio, especially in border areas, may emerge as a threat to the unity, integrity and cultural identity of the country,” Bhagwat warned, adding that the rise in Muslim population, both through immigration and higher fertility rates, was a threat to India’s unity.

“The share of the population of religions of Bharatiya origin, which was 88 per cent, has come down to 83.8 per cent, while the Muslim population, which was 9.8 percent, has increased to 14.23 per cent during the period 1951-2011,” Bhagwat said. He said the violence that broke out following the elections of West Bengal “and the pitiable condition of the Hindu people there can also be attributed to the appeasement of barbarous elements by the government and population imbalance”.

Bhagwat said the second wave of Covid-19 had caused devastation but “it appears that neither the government nor the society is of the mindset to restrict day-to-day activities due to the looming threat of Covid. In mere two waves of Covid, the lockdowns have marred the economy considerably. We have the challenge of covering up for previous losses while making financial strides even faster before us”. He said ayurveda had proved beneficial in building resistance and immunity to the infection and should be promoted.

Bhagwat touched on the sensitive issue of the way Hindu temples were run – not just their administration but also the policies to prevent some Hindus from accessing these seats of worship. “It is also necessary and only reasonable that the operating rights of Hindu temples be handed over to Hindu devotees and the wealth of Hindu temples is utilised for the worship of the deities and the welfare of the Hindu community only,” he said. However, he did not spell out how Hindu temples should be governed: whether by the state or other forces.

He referred to the turbulence in Afghanistan and the formation of a Taliban government. Even as India’s official policy is to “wait and watch”, Bhagwat said: “While keeping the channels for dialogue open and without negating the possibility of a heart-change, we must be prepared for all possibilities.”

He made a special reference to Guru Teg Bahadur, whose 400th birth anniversary celebrations are on. Adopting the Sikh guru into the Hindu pantheon, Bhagwat said: “He was martyred for standing up against religious bigotry that was much in prevalence in Bharat then.”

Bhagwat's speech was a call to all Indians to create an India that is insulated from regionalism and united in honouring all nationalists.

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