First posted January 17, 2018
NB: Amidst the fanfare of the Israeli Prime Ministerial visit to India, and the warmth being displayed towards him by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it may be of interest for Israeli citizens to know the ideological roots of India’s current ruling dispensation. DS
Briefly put, it’s simple: their icon, V. D. Savarkar, the hero of the Hindu nationalists, was a staunch admirer of Hitler and the Nazis. So were the top figures of the Rashtriyya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; or National Volunteers), the mother-organisation of the BJP. These are facts that this spokesman of the BJP, does not care to place before his readers. And since the two PM’s have visited Mahatma Gandhi’s famous Sabarmati Ashram, let it be known that soon after Modi’s government came to power some members of his party and its ideological allies were celebrating the memory of Gandhi’s assassin. Savarkar was one of the prime accused in the assassination case and was let off on a technicality. He also made an infamous peace with the British imperialists. Since January 30 will mark the 70th anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination, I leave it to readers with a knowledge of the history of fascism and Nazism, to reflect on the irony of what is transpiring in India just now.
More posts on Savarkar
Savarkar was being quoted approvingly by the Nazi press in 1939. The founder of the RSS, K. B. Hedgewar, was part of a meeting in 1934 where the desirability of a Indian fascist dictator was discussed. The following citations are from a research article by the historian Marzia Casolari, published in EPW, January 22, 2000, entitled Hindutva’s Foreign Tie-up in the 1930’s. See especially pages 221 to 224. Here is a quote from the conversation:
I have thought out a scheme… that provides for standardisation of Hinduism throughout India…But the point is that this ideal cannot be brought to effect unless we have our own swaraj with a Hindu as a dictator like Shivaji of old or Mussolini or Hitler of the present day in Italy and Germany…But this does not mean that we have to sit with folded hands untill (sic) some such dictator arises in India. We should formulate a scientific scheme and carry on propaganda for it..
Here is VD Savarkar speaking approvingly of the Nazi’s persecution of Jews in 1939: A Nation is formed by a majority living therein. What did the Jews do in Germany? They being in minority were driven out from Germany. (Speech at Malegaon, October 14, 1938).
In December 1939, on the occasion of the 21st session of the Hindu Mahasabha, he said: ‘the Indian Muslims are on the whole more inclined to identify themselves and their interests with Muslims outside India than Hindus who live next door, like Jews in Germany.’
Let it also be recorded that the first Indian translation of Mein Kampf was in Urdu, by Inayatullah Mashriqi, founder of the para-military Khaksars. After a trip to Cairo in 1926, he visited Germany and met Hitler, whom he took to be a kindred soul. He returned to India in 1931 and organised the Khaksar militia (khaksar means humble) on an Islamic nationalist platform. In 1940 the Khaksars had a series of confrontations with the police. After a jail-term he made peace with the authorities; and shifted from an antagonistic to a deferential stance toward the Muslim League. Despite ideological differences, there were immediate similarities between the Khaksars and the extreme Hindu nationalists of the RSS.
Here is M.S. Golwalkar, the second leader (after the founder) of the RSS, in 1938: To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the semitic races – the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here…a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.” (In We, or our Nation hood defined)
And here is Savarkar on the Munich Agreement in which the Sudetanland was annexed by Hitler: ‘the Hindu Sanghatanists in India hold that Germany was perfectly justified in uniting the Austrian and Sudeten Germans under the German flag. Democracy itself demanded that the will of the people must prevail in choosing their own government. Germany demanded plebiscite, the Germans under the Czechs wanted to join their kith and kin in Germany. It was the Czechs who were acting against the principle of democracy in holding the Germans under a foreign sway against their will…Now that Germany is strong why should she not strike to unite all Germans and consolidate them into a Pan-German state and realise the political dream which generations of German people cherished.’ (Savarkar papers, misc correspondence January 1938 May 1939); also published on November 30, 1938 by the Nazi daily, the Volkischer Beobachter
On March 25, 1939 the Hindu Mahasabha issued the following statement: Germany’s solemn idea of the revival of the Aryan culture, the glorification of the Swastika, her patronage of Vedic learning and the ardent championship of the tradition of Indo-Germanic civilisation are welcomed by the religious and sensible Hindus of India with a jubilant hope. Only a few socialists headed by Pandit J Nehru have created a bubble of resentment against the present government of Germany, but their activities are far from having any significance in India. The vain imprecations of Mahatma Gandhi against Germany’s indispensable vigour in matters of internal policy obtain but little regard insofar as they are uttered by a man who has always betrayed and confused the country with an affected mysticism. I think that Germany’s crusade against the enemies of Aryan culture will bring all the Aryan nations of the world to their senses and awaken the Indian Hindus for the restoration of their lost glory.
(Milan Hauner, India in Axis strategy: Germany, Japan and Indian nationalists in the Second World War, 1981, p 66)
Also see my article on Indian fascism
Marzia Casolari’s article may be read here: