Relief and Rehabilitation during Natural Calamities

Following the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake:

As many as 25,000 volunteers, including 600 doctors, from Sewa Bharati, worked to rescue and rehabilitate the victims of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake. Nearly 10,000 operations were performed and over 19,000 patients were treated of injuries and other ailments. Besides, the organisation sent huge amounts of relief material for the quake-hit victims from different parts of the country. News magazine Outlook reported “Literally within minutes RSS / Sewa Bharati volunteers were at the scenes of distress. Across Gujarat, the (RSS) cadres were the saviours. Even as the State machinery were completely perplexed in the first two days after the quake, the cadre-based machinery of the Sangh fanned out throughout the State. Approximately 35,000 RSS members in uniform, one of our sister organization were pressed into service.” In the words of the district collector of Ahmedabad K. Srinivas: “This is an old tradition in the RSS. To be the first at any disaster strike: floods, cyclone, drought and now quake. In Kutch, too, the RSS / Sewa Bharati was the first to reach the affected areas. At Anjar, a town in ruins, the RSS was present much before the Army and took the lead in finding survivors and fishing out the dead.”India Today, arguably India’s most respected weekly, reported in its issue of Feb. 12, 2001, that “It is conceded by even their worst detractors that the RSS through Sewa bharati has been in the forefront of the non-official rescue and relief (operations). This has led to an upsurge of goodwill for the Sangh”.

Following the 2004 Tsunami:

When the 2004 Tsunami hit the southern coasts of India, thousands of volunteers, under the aegis of the Sewa Bharati, engaged in relief work. The volunteers, in cooperation with organizations like Ramakrishna Mutt in Tamil Nadu, Nair Service Society, Sri Narayana Guru Dharma Paripalana Yogam and Mata Amrithanandamayi Mutt in Kerala and Janakshema Samiti in Andhra Pradesh, set up relief camps in tsunami-affected districts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They distributed thousands of food packets, organised teams of doctors and cremated thousands of dead bodies. Tughlaq, a magazine based in Chennai, carried a report on the relief work of the tsunami that hit the coasts of Tamil Nadu. It reported that when the tsunami left the whole government machinery paralysed, it was because of the immediate relief work of Sewa Bharati that hundreds of lives were saved. “Sewa Bharati had started rehabilitating people fleeing from the waves, losing their houses, boats, nets, etc., by feeding them, settling them in dry places, etc. during the first day itself. Medical relief was also made available in all the 208 places spread over nine districts. It further adds “The task of even taking the dead bodies to the medical centres appeared too daunting. It was the Sewa Bharati workers who dared to venture into seashores and retrieve the bodies. From the beginning of the calamity on the morning of the 26th up to writing this on 2nd January, the number of dead retrieved by Sewa Bharati is 2,469! There have been occasions when some have been rescued alive while searching for bodies.” The editor of Tughlaq, and noted dramatist Cho Ramaswamy says “The concerned authorities admit privately that it was the RSS-sponsored Sewa Bharati, which did yeoman service everywhere. Politics forbids them to acknowledge this in public”.
   After the Tsunami, Sewa Bharati with other allied organisations conducted a survey of the affected areas and rehabilitated the people of the worst-hit villages and helped them build homes and other basic infrastructure facilities. It also conducted counseling sessions for the victims, mostly the children to help them face the trauma after the calamity.

During Floods in South India (2009):

In the floods that swept across the Southern States of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In the first phase of relief operations, they distributed over one lakh food packets collected from neighboring villages and districts in the interior rural areas of Kurnool, Mahaboobnagar and Nalgonda districts. Since links to Kurnool had been cut off, material was brought in from Anantapur, Kadapa, Nellore in the Andhra Pradesh and Raichur in Karnataka. Relief camps were set up in Karnool town at Saraswati Sishu Mandir and G Pulla Reddy Engineering College. Volunteers from Adoni cleaned the Raghavendra Swamy temple in Mantralayam and cleared the carcasses of the cows of Goshala and other animals, and handed them over to the police.In Hyderabad, 2,000 volunteers went round the city collecting money, food and other material needed for the flood-affected. Two donation collection centres had come up at the State headquarters of RSS and the Keshav Memorial School. Every day four truckloads of food material, two trucksloads of other essentials were dispatched to flood-affected areas. Besides, 200 volunteers from the city were engaged in sanitation work there.
    In the second phase of relief operations, the RSS surveyed the affected areas of Mahaboobnagar district and found that 58 villages were badly destroyed and 16,000 families were devastated. The organisation decided to supply kits to 5,000 families to enable them to lead a normal life. Each kit consist of kitchen utensils, foodgrains and other material of daily use.
“We have identified various means of rehabilitation of people like supplying them implements required for their occupation,” volunteers said, adding that they were involving several voluntary organisations.

Following the 2013 Uttarakhand Floods:

In the floods and cloudburst that created havoc in Uttarakhand in June 2013, Sewa Bharati had deployed 5,000 RSS volunteers taken up for the relief and rescue operations along with the Indian Armed forces. It was the largest ever rescue mission for the 100,000 pilgrims and locals. From day one of floods till the operations continued, 20 truckloads of relief material were sent to flood affected areas from Dehradun. RSS Sewa Vibhag surveyed the flood affected areas of Badrinath, Hemkund Saheb, Kedarnath and Gangotri-Yamunotri and found that approximately 200 villages were worst affected by the floods and some of them were completely washed out.