Social service and reform
Participation in land reforms
It has been noted that the RSS volunteers participated in the Bhoodan movement organised by Gandhian leader Vinobha Bhave, who had met RSS leader Golwalkar in Meerut in November 1951. Golwalkar had been inspired by the movement that encouraged land reform through voluntary means. He pledged the support of the RSS for this movement. Consequently, many RSS volunteers, led by Nanaji Deshmukh, participated in the movement. But Golwalkar was also critical of the Bhoodan movement on other occasions for being reactionary and for working "merely with a view to counteracting Communism". He believed that the movement should inculcate a faith in the masses that would make them rise above the base appeal of Communism.
Reform in 'caste'
The RSS has advocated the training of Dalits and other backward classes as temple high priests (a position traditionally reserved for Caste Brahmins and denied to lower castes). They argue that the social divisiveness of the caste system is responsible for the lack of adherence to Hindu values and traditions, and that reaching out to the lower castes in this manner will be a remedy to the problem. The RSS has also condemned upper-caste Hindus for preventing Dalits from worshipping at temples, saying that "even God will desert the temple in which Dalits cannot enter".
Jaffrelot says that "there is insufficient data available to carry out a statistical analysis of social origins of the early RSS leaders" but goes on to conclude that, based on some known profiles, most of the RSS founders and its leading organisers, with a few exceptions, were Maharashtrian Brahmins from the middle or lower class and argues that the pervasiveness of the Brahminical ethic in the organisation was probably the main reason why it failed to attract support from the low castes. He argues that the "RSS resorted to instrumentalist techniques of ethno-religious mobilisation—in which its Brahminism was diluted—to overcome this handicap". However, Anderson and Damle (1987) find that members of all castes have been welcomed into the organisation and are treated as equals.
During a visit in 1934 to an RSS camp at Wardha accompanied by Mahadev Desai and Mirabehn, Mahatma Gandhi said, "When I visited the RSS Camp, I was very much surprised by your discipline and absence of untouchablity." He personally inquired about this to Swayamsevaks and found that volunteers were living and eating together in the camp without bothering to know each other's castes.
Since 2005, the RSS’s health wing launched a programme to produce “customised” and “perfect” children.
Relief and rehabilitation
The RSS was instrumental in relief efforts after the 1971 Orissa Cyclone, 1977 Andhra Pradesh Cyclone and in the 1984 Bhopal disaster. It assisted in relief efforts during the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, and helped rebuild villages. Approximately 35,000 RSS members in uniform were engaged in the relief efforts, and many of their critics acknowledged their role. An RSS-affiliated NGO, Seva Bharati, conducted relief operations in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. Activities included building shelters for the victims and providing food, clothes, and medical necessities. The RSS assisted relief efforts during the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and the subsequent tsunami. Seva Bharati also adopted 57 children (38 Muslims and 19 Hindus) from militancy affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir to provide them education at least up to Higher Secondary level. They also took care of victims of the Kargil War of 1999.
In 2006 RSS participated in relief efforts to provide basic necessities such as food, milk, and potable water to the people of Surat, Gujarat, who were affected by floods in the region.[non-primary source needed] The RSS volunteers carried out relief and rehabilitation work after the floods affected North Karnataka and some districts of the state of Andhra Pradesh. In 2013, following the Uttarakhand floods, RSS volunteers were involved in flood relief work through its offices set up at affected areas