Indian spring and the colour saffron Indiaâ€™s colour of antiquity, saffron, takes on black, as a diminutive yogi in flaming orange and a Rasputinesque black beard, challenges a befuddled government with satyagraha. Forcing powerful ministers to run around like servitors in his ashram, Baba Ramdev humiliated the ambassadors of a corrupt political classâ€”however personally honest some may beâ€”who are fighting tooth and nail to protect looted national wealth hidden in banks overseas. The message was clear to the man on the streetâ€”the powerful politician is no more invincible. And the panjandrums of the Congress party screamed themselves hoarse, that the RSS is the driving force behind the Indian Spring. They had the same cry during Anna Hazareâ€™s fast at Jantar Mantar a month ago. Ramdevâ€™s robe is cut from a different cloth. He has a mass following that will die for him, a huge ayurveda-yoga-education empire that allows him to be independent of political and mafia funding. His ideology may be muddled and medieval, standing against Colgate toothpaste and everything foreignâ€”but his message is vehemently nationalistic. The RSS alarm raised by the Congress reveals poverty of thought and public disconnect. The RSS got a bad name between 1950s and 1990s when socialism used its best weaponâ€”propagandaâ€”to give it a terror tag. When the Muslim vote bank of the Congress was threatened after Independence, it desperately needed an enemy. It counted on passivism of Indiaâ€™s majority to isolate Hindu nationalism as a convenient foe. The RSS lacked the political machinery to counter this offensive and functioned like lotus eaters in a mythical dream land, where Vivekananda preached Vedanta and all gods spoke only Hindi. They have not been able to communicate their agenda to Indiaâ€™s emerging middle class who see them either as a bunch of eccentrics in khaki shorts doing exercises with sticks in public parks, or as mass murderers of Muslims, while most communal riots occurred during Congress rule, and largely in Congress-ruled states. As India lurched towards liberalisation in the nineties and the noughties, the RSS became even more unfashionable; they didnâ€™t wear Versace, nor smoke Cohibas or quote Deepak Chopra at cocktail parties. Indian history textbooks, dominated by its Leftist syllabus, do not mention RSS activism in Partition refugee campsâ€”setting up tents, distributing medicines and food and providing shelter. They continue doing what an organisation, whose core ideology is â€˜swarajâ€™, doesâ€”descending in thousands when earthquakes struck Latur and Bhuj, working day and night rescuing Hindu and Muslim alike. They sent their cadres to Surat when floods struck in 2006. In 2009, they were present when the cyclone Alia ravaged the Sunderbans. By the 1990s, the RSS had built schools in remote tribal areas and established charities. It operates over 100,000 voluntary programs on education, health, rural development and self-sufficiency as well as tribal rights. Its opponents call the RSS an Indian Taliban that spreads saffron terror, while Al Qaeda writes bloody obituaries with machine guns and suicide squads, destroys schools and centuries old agricultural systems. The irony is, saffron terrorâ€”if it existsâ€”is a reaction to terrorism against India. As millions of ordinary people celebrate an Indian spring in Baba Ramdevâ€™s company, the ruling party doesnâ€™t realise the irony of calling his movement RSS-inspired. The obvious inference would be that civil society is the Sangh. Somewhere, Keshav Baliram Hedgewar must be chuckling.