THE Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), whose founders idealized both fascism and Nazism, and see controversial figures like Hitler and Mussolini as its role models, is the ideological mentor to BJP, the ruling party of India. Under its rule, attacks on religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians have grown. President Dr. Arif Alvi has rightly said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the ruling political party Bharatia Janata Party (BJP) was taking inspiration from Hitler and urged upon the world to take notice of the promotion of Nazi ideology. In his tweet he shared an article written by Harit Mehta titled ‘In Modi’s Gujarat, Hitler is a textbook hero’ which was published in Times of India back in 2004 when the incumbent Indian Prime Minister was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, and his political alignment with extremists resulted in massacre of 2000 Muslims in Gujarat.
Many other writers have expressed similar views. A treatise titled in The New York Times by author Pankaj Mishra began: “Brexit, Erdogan, Putin and now Trump; something is rotten in the state of democracy… The stink first became unmistakable in India in May 2014, when Narendra Modi, a member of an ultra right Hindu organisation inspired by fascists and Nazis, was elected prime minister.” In 2004, when now-Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, school textbooks published by the Gujarat State Board portrayed Hitler as a hero, and glorified fascism. The tenth-grade social studies textbook had a chapter titled ‘Hitler, the Supremo’. The section on the ‘Ideology of Nazism’ reads: “Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German Government. He adopted the policy of opposition towards the Jewish people and advocated the supremacy of the German race.”
A bizarre new strand of Hindu Nazism, particularly among the young, is rearing its ugly head. It is menacing, to say the least. Its leaders boast of killing India’s minorities and beheading their political opponents, while promoting aggressive Hindu nationalism on narrow religious and ethnic terms. A growing contempt for India’s minorities including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Dalits manifests itself racist remarks passed with casual insouciance. In 2003, Khushwanth Singh, Indian author, lawyer, diplomat, journalist and politician wrote: “The juggernaut of Hindu fundamentalism has emerged from the temple of intolerance, and is on its yatra (on the march). The fascist agenda of Hindu fanatics is unlike anything we have experienced in our modern history.” Narendra Modi’s real visage stands exposed after his unilateral action of revoking Article 370 that gave special status to the India-occupied Kashmir, for which he is drawing flak from left, right and centre.
Modi is accused of treading a dangerous path that could trigger a war between two nuclear States, which would have devastating effect not only on the two countries but also on the region and the world at large. With the BJP’s rise to become India’s ruling party in 2014 and by having a majority in the 2019 elections, the idea of India is being redefined to mean a Hindu polity (Hindutva). India today stands exposed, as the threat to religious minorities by fanatic and aggressive Hindu fundamentalism is enough to raise serious doubts among the international community regarding the secular outlook and democratic claims of India. The plight of Indian minorities during BJP’s era and especially with Modi at the helm has surpassed all previous records. His policies are dictated by RSS unleashing reign of terror on Indian minorities that are groaning in a so-called secular state.
India has an unwritten mandate of pushing the minorities against the wall through State policies as well as by hardliner Hindu politicians. Externally, India continues to threaten its smaller neighbours. India had refused to accept the mandate of the people of Nepal as the Constitution was approved by more than 90% vote of the Constituent Assembly. India continues to illegally occupy 60000 square kilometres of Nepalese territory lost by Nepal after the signing of Sugauli Treaty of 1816 with East India Company. India had annexed Sikkim, terrorized Maldives and Bhutan, had ignited civil war in Sri Lanka. Earlier its role in the separation of former East Pakistan, and persistently shedding blood of innocent Kashmiris is known to all and sundry. Ask the Sri Lankans, and they would tell you how devastatingly they had been bitten by the Indian Establishment, which had recruited Sri Lankan Tamil youth in multitudes.
On 14 December 2017, Shrenik Rao, an academic, film maker and broadcaster wrote a lengthy treatise in Israeli newspaper ‘Haaretz’ titled ‘Hitler’s Hindus: The Rise and Rise of India’s Nazi-loving Nationalists’, in which he referred to RSS leaders’ vile anti-Semitic obloquy as well as their preaching of ethnic hatred in stark contrast to the principles of ahimsa (non-violence) enunciated in India’s freedom struggle. He wrote: “Recently, browsing through Facebook threw up an eerie shock. “Hari Om Heil Hitler,” said a post next to an image of a young Hitler, followed by a paean to Aryan values. The cover picture read, “Aum, Hail Aryan, Hail Aryavart, meaning “Hail Aryans, Hail Land of the Aryans. Other social media sites and online platforms too had their share of strange, yet fanatical admiration for Hitler, reframed with Hindu nationalism. “Hitler was great, said “Hindu Hitler” on rediff.com, a popular Indian web portal”. How the US, West and Israel can digest this anti-Semitism?
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.