Book review: Sunil Ambekar, The RSS: Roadmaps for the 21st Century

Published date01 December 2021
Date01 December 2021
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 673
These measures were also coupled with an intensied publicity drive through
an emphasis on individual household twin-pit model, which produces useful
organic compost out of human waste. His involvement, despite being a senior
government ofcer, in a surprise toilet pit-emptying exercise in Gangadevapalli
village, Warangal district, Telangana state, primarily to attack conventional social
stigma associated with cleaning toilets, marked an important symbolic milestone
in the journey of SBM. Clearly, it has been a case of ‘outputs turned into outcomes’
and has made a visible impact on the lives of millions of people in rural India. It
is thus hardly surprising that, by 2018, India reached a sanitation coverage of over
95% to nally launching ‘No One Left Behind’ to provide toilets to the new
households that would join in the future. The concept of ODF Plus Village—one
that sustains ODF behaviour and also safely manages its solid and liquid waste—
became the basis for creation of a 10-year Sanitation Strategy Document (2019)
along with the construction and development of the Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra
(National Sanitation Centre) at Delhi.
The nal chapters of this inspiring book highlight his planning of Phase II of
SBM and implementation of the new drinking water programme Jal Jeevan
Mission. Amid all this progress, Iyer notes the disruptions owing to the COVID-
19 outbreak in 2020 and the consequent adaptations to the changed ‘new normal’
circumstance, when he was the convenor to Empowered Group No. 5, facilitating
logistics and supply chain management of essential items such as food and
medicine. In 2020, he returned to Washington DC, to resume his job at the World
Indeed, the author has undergone an incredible ‘insider-outsider-insider’
journey, especially with his second insider stint with GoI, when he became the
longest serving Secretary in recent times. Throughout this unusual trajectory,
‘pro-tip’, highlighted in between instances of his reminiscences in the book, adds
that extra value and insight for administrators on eld.
Chitra Mishra
Indian Administrative Service
2019 Telangana Cadre
Sunil Ambekar, The RSS: Roadmaps for the 21st Century. New Delhi:
Rupa, 2019, 230 pp., `495. ISBN : 978-9353336851.
DOI: 10.1177/00195561211051516
Sunil Ambekar’s book on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is the best that
has been published on Sangh in recent years, that too from a full-time pracharak
[propagator] working with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) as
the National Organising Secretary. The book comprehensively discusses the
reasons for the formation of the Sangh, its postulates, and its views on the emerg-
ing contemporary issues. For example, it was to organise the Hindu society which
‘for centuries was disorganised and in a state of perennial surprise attacks. It,
therefore, required consistence work of several decades to instil confidence

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