Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) yesterday released a list of 47 helpline numbers to provide door-to-door food delivery service and other aides to individuals affected by the nationwide lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak. When the entire country is under lockdown, they without caring for their own safety, have jumped to serve the citizens. This is the commitment of ABVP. However, this makes me wonder, how can so many contributions of the ABVP go unnoticed? Since its inception, ABVP has fought many battles every time our country was in danger or a crisis.

ABVP is the student wing of the RSS and a formidable member of the Sangh Parivar, which was formed in the year 1948 to reconstruct the very foundation of our Indian ethos. Students are the young minds of our country, who if motivated will work tirelessly for serving their countries. Thus ABVP started building a network of students who now work selflessly to serve our country even in remote and far-flung areas of the country. ABVP is the largest student organisation of the world and its sheer breadth helps it to be the first to reach and help people in distress during accidents or calamities.

Contrary to media representation of the ABVP, which always paints them as hooligans, activities of the organisation across India have been formidable and the members often risk their own lives. From helping people in terror-inflicted regions of Kashmir to being the first ones to help people in delivering food during floods in communist bastions of Kerala, to reaching out to people in the Naxal-infested regions of Andhra Pradesh to helping people in distress in the insurgency-affected areas of the North-East, you ask for help and these guys will be there. ABVP, just like the RSS, shares only one motto: Selfless service to the nation, no questions asked! 

Not just relief activities, ABVP has been at the forefront of many struggles in India. From the Goan Liberation movement in 1961, to being a part of the civil defence during the Chinese aggression, to fighting against government corruption in Gujarat and Bihar in the 1970s, to the fight against the infamous emergency where thousands and thousands of ABVP members were thrown behind bars and slapped with the Draconian MISA, ABVPs contributions cannot just be numbered. They have also led a huge fight against the Leftist anti-Indian ideologies like Naxalism and Left-wing extremism and in this fight, many ABVP members have been ruthlessly killed. Yet, they, till date, haven’t stopped serving India just because of their commitment to the nation and their selfless patriotism.

At the cost of sounding repetitive, ABVP's contribution to the process of nation-building doesn’t end here. They have also contributed greatly to our national security measures. ABVP led thousands of students to protest against the illegal immigration of Bangladeshis in the North-East. They also led protests against the insurgency and separatist movements in Kashmir. No, these weren’t empty protests. These protests not only forced the government to take security matters more seriously, but also brought the discussion of national security into school and college debates creating a sense of awareness, which was lacking before.

ABVP has led numerous other relief activities from the 1977 cyclones in Andhra Pradesh, to the earthquakes in Gujarat, to the Tsunami or the recent floods in Karnataka. They are the first to reach the victims and offer help. But despite all of this, what is the roadblock for ABVP?

The media’s portrayal of ABVP is creating a negative image for them. For us, who have witnessed them working, TV opinions don’t really matter. But, for the young minds whose only source of information is media, their minds are now being coached to hate the ABVP. This makes me worry about what lies in the future for this organisation. Will they still be able to garner such support even in the future? What should their strategy be to combat this negative media imagery? How can they reach out to more students and the youth so that they don’t jump to conclusions based on media reports? There are too many questions that arise now which only the future can answer.


About Abhinav Khare

Abhinav Khare is the CEO of Asianet News Network and also the host of a daily show named Deep Dive with AK. He has a lifetime collection of books and gadgets and has already pinged more than hundred cities around the globe. 

He is a tech entrepreneur, who is passionate about policy, technology, economy and philosophy from ancient India. He earned an MS Engineering from the ETH Zurich and an MBA Finance from the London Business School.