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Physical Culture, Civic Activism, and Hindu Nationalism in the City

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Abstract

Shakhas and the practices of physical culture that are enacted within them came to play an important role in the neighborhoods in which they were embedded, particularly in Ahmedabad. After the RSS sought to expand the presence of its network of shakhas to “provincial” towns and cities in 1937, of which Ahmedabad was an ideal candidate, the forms of physical culture that were undertaken in them became enmeshed in the social life of the localities in which they were situated. In organizing physical training in the neighborhoods of Ahmedabad, branch shikshaks (teachers) forged affective and cognitive connections between the RSS program of physical culture and understandings of exemplary conduct and civic leadership among Gujarati Hindus which, in turn, did much to enracinate the virtue and ethos of shakhas in the city in the late colonial and postcolonial period. Notably, these developments did not always coincide with the electoral fortunes of Hindu nationalist parties, particularly the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which was formed in 1951. Although tied to the project to capture state power, as scholars of Hindu nationalism in other regions rightly demonstrate, new connections between branch organizers and Gujarati Hindus were not reflected in the electoral domain as demonstrated by the Jana Sangh’s negligible political importance during elections that occurred in the early years of the postcolonial period.1

Keywords

Physical Training Game Playing Socialist Party Political Mobilization Congress Party 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Arafaat A. Valiani 2011

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