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New Delhi: After deciding to replace roomy khaki shorts with trousers, the 90-year-old Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is adding an apparel to its spartan uniform—a sweater.

The sweaters—the first addition in the organization’s history—will be ready later this year.

Members of the RSS—the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party—have also finalized preparations for Vijay Dashmi celebrations on 11 October when swayamsevaks—or volunteers—will for the first time wear brown trousers to replace khaki shorts.

Formed in 1925, the RSS has made five changes in its uniform but the only addition to it will be a brown coloured sweater, which will be introduced during winter this year.

Senior RSS leaders said that the organization has placed an order for 800,000 sweaters with a company in Ludhiana, Punjab, which is expected to supply the first batch later this year.

“There was a large discussion within the organization that we must introduce sweaters for our cadre. The demand especially came from swayamsevaks from north India, central India and states in the northeast. It was a very practical suggestion because of the severe winters in these areas," said a senior leader of the RSS who was part of the decision-making process.

“During Vijay Dashmi celebrations which will be followed by a speech by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, swayamsevaks will wear brown coloured trousers for the first time. There will be no more khaki shorts; and from now on, RSS members will wear trousers for all official functions," said the RSS leader, asking not to be named.

Vijay Dashmi, 11 October, is when the RSS celebrates its 91st anniversary.

The RSS leader said another 800,000 brown trousers have been prepared after it was decided in July that khaki shorts will be replaced.

“The RSS has made changes in its uniform five times since its formation in 1925. Along with brown trousers, RSS has also decided to include brown socks in the uniform," the RSS leader said.

“The only thing that has not been changed in the uniform is the black cap. There was a suggestion recently that we should change our cap also; but after deliberations by members, it was decided that there was no need for it," added the RSS leader.

RSS first made changes in its uniform in 1939 when it replaced khaki full-sleeved shirts with white shirts and then again in 1974 when black military-style high ankle boots were replaced with black shoes.

“In 2010, we replaced a black leather belt with synthetic belts. Members of the RSS wanted to replace it because we only used animal hide to make belts. Many members felt we should use some other material and not leather," the RSS leader said.

A political analyst said changes in RSS uniform are being made because the organization wants to start a “conversation" with the masses.

“Khaki shorts were part of older times; RSS is trying to evolve and communicate with the masses so it has decided to introduce a sweater, wear pants rather than shorts. There is a fundamental change where we are witnessing a new brand of RSS," said Mumbai-based political analyst Jai Mrug.

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