Can Modi be compared to Hitler?

Ram Puniyani

The national daily Hindustan Times carried an article (‘Comparing Hitler’s Germany with India 2014 is odious’, Marcus Pindur and Padma Rao Sunderji, HT 23rd may 2014), the following is the response to that.

With Modi coming to power in the 2014 elections various analysts have been arguing about the shape of things to come in very diverse ways. Modi himself is being compared to the likes of Nixon, Margret Thatcher, Reagan on one side and Hitler on the other. His being compared to Hitler has met with severe criticism by many other commentators (‘Comparing Hitler’s Germany with India 2014 is odious’, Marcus Pindur and Padma Rao Sunderji, HT 23rd may 2014) have strongly come out saying that Modi is no Hitler and India of 2014 is very different from Germany of 1930s. The authors argue that after the defeat of Germany in the First World War, Germany was going through a rough patch which was worsened by the great depression of late 1920s and this created a situation of the rise of Hitler and his genocidal politics. The second factor which they assert is about the weakness of German Democracy where the Nazi’s with just 30% of the votes could come to power.

It’s true that no two political situations are exactly alike. What is also true is that despite the superficial differences there are deeply embedded trends which have similarity in more ways than one. While India has not seen the type of post First World War ignominy which Germans suffered, it is also true that during last few years, beginning with Anna Hazare movement and later through Arvind Kejrivals’ AAP party a serious sense of mistrust in the ruling party and the political system was carefully orchestrated. The moving force of Anna movement was Modi’s parent organization RSS. Through a vicious propaganda and spectacle of mass programs Anna movement practically constructed a severe mistrust in the present system; parliament and the ruling Party. Kejrival, by taking along a large section of civic society groups; took this discrediting of the ruling party to further limits.

As far as the democracy in India is concerned it is a process of evolution. Some steps forward: some steps back! On one hand we see that the democratic awareness is spreading far and wide, the keenness to participate in the electoral process is increasing by the day, which is a very positive trend. At the same time there is the Westminster model of electoral politics, which totally undermines the representative character of Indian democracy. In Germany Nazis could come to power with 30% of votes. Here in 2014 India, BJP with 31% of votes has emerged as the party with the simple majority! The other process undermining the character of Indian democracy is the prevalence of caste and gender hierarchy. This graded hierarchy prevalent in the society due to which women and dalits both are subject to the injustices, which are there but not perceived and projected so easily in the society. Yet another factor undermining Indian democracy is the communalization of state apparatus due to which religious minorities are not only subjected to regular repeated violence but are also deprived of justice. Many a youth have been recklessly arrested in the wake of bomb blasts, their social lives and careers ruined before the courts exonerated them on the ground as the evidence against them was totally fabricated one. Meanwhile the demonization of this minority goes up and they are relegated to the status of ‘second class citizenship’ at places.

While Hitler may have been an overt hater of Jews, Parliamentary democracy, Modi is deeply rooted in the ideology of ‘Hindu nationalism’, which regards Hindus alone to be the ones’ deserving to be the citizens of this country. The people of ‘foreign religions’ Muslims and Christians are regarded as the threat to Hindu nation. Golwalkar, the RSS ideologue outlined this in his book Bunch of Thoughts. Modi’s ideological foundations are in this ideology which again goes on to model itself on the lines of Hitler. Appreciating Hitler’s genocide against Jews. Modi’s ideological mentor, Golwalkar writes, “…To keep up the purity of nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of Semitic races-The Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how neigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by. (We or Our nationhood Defined P. 27, 1938)

Modi has shown this in practice in Gujarat, where nearly two thousand people were done to death by brutal methods and then large section of the Muslim community has been reduced to live the life of humiliation and deprivation, concentrated in the ghettoes. To think that Supreme Court has exonerated Modi of this carnage is again one of the biggest propaganda exercises of current times. The SIT was formed by Supreme Court. An Amicus Curie was appointed by the same court. SIT says that there is no ground to prosecute Modi but based on the same SIT report the Supreme Court appointed Amicus Curie says that there is enough evidence in the report to prosecute Modi.

When a German delegation visited Gujarat (April 2010), one of the members of the delegation pointed out that he was shocked by parallels between Germany under Hitler and Gujarat under Modi. Incidentally in Gujarat school books Hitler has been glorified as a great nationalist. (http://deshgujarat.com/2010/04/10/german-mps-mind-your-own-business/). The similarities with Hitler don’t end here. Like Hitler, Modi enjoys the solid support from the corporate World. Like Hitler Modi has deep hatred for religious minorities and he believes in Hindu nationalism, as per his own admission. His attitude to religious minorities and his own persona was best described the psychoanalyst Ashish Nandy, who interviewed him much before he presided over the Gujarat when the carnage was on, he wrote “…I had the privilege of interviewing (Modi)…it left me in no doubt that here was a classic, clinical case of a fascist. I never use the term ‘fascist’ as a term of abuse; to me it is a diagnostic category comprising not only one’s ideological posture but also the personality traits and motivational patterns contextualizing the ideology.”

(http://such.forumotion.com/t17216-ashis-nandy-narendra-modi-is-a-classical-clinical-case-of-a-fascist )

While Germany of 1930 and India of 2014 are different there are many similarities also. The context of Hitler and Modi is different but the underlying politics (sectarian nationalism) is similar, demonization of the ‘other’ is similar, charisma created around them is similar. The fate of the ‘largest democracy’ is in doldrums, the only thing which can help it is the rule of law, morality laced justice, revival of movements for democratic and human rights, to work for the platform of social movements which is inclusive and stands for the values of Liberty, Equality and fraternity in a substantive way.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

In 1976, when India was under a State of Emergency, the American journalist AM Rosenthal visited New Delhi. Rosenthal had once been the New York Times’s correspondent here, and greatly admired Jawaharlal Nehru. For he had seen, at first hand, how India’s first prime minister had struggled heroically to establish a democratic ethos in a country marked by pervasive social inequalities and by polarisation on religious lines.

Now, on this latest visit, Rosenthal was appalled by the climate of fear and suspicion engendered by the administration of Indira Gandhi. He concluded that Nehru’s daughter had damaged rather than deepened her father’s political legacy. As an Indian friend of Rosenthal’s laconically put it, were Nehru alive, he would be in jail, from where he would be writing letters to the prime minister on the importance of democracy and democratic institutions.

This week marks the 50th death anniversary of a man much admired in his lifetime yet increasingly vilified since his death. The decline in Nehru’s reputation has two principal causes: (1) the rise to power of parties based on ideologies opposed to that of the Congress; (2) the controversial tenures as prime minister of Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi and of his grandson Rajiv Gandhi. If Indira Gandhi departed from her father in her suspicion of debate and dialogue, Rajiv Gandhi abandoned Nehruvian secularism in successively capitulating to Muslim fanatics (by overturning the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Shah Bano case) and Hindu extremists (by opening the locks to the shrine at Ayodhya).

Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in May 1991. Later in the same year, I published an essay calling attention to the fact that while Mahatma Gandhi’s standing among the intelligentsia had rapidly risen in recent years, Nehru’s had precipitously fallen. (The newspaper gave it the title: ‘Nehru Is Out, Gandhi Is In’). While Nehru commanded colossal respect in his lifetime, I wrote that ‘today few other than the career chamchas are willing to defend him, ... and fewer still to understand him’. Yet I had ‘no doubt that in time Nehru’s reputation will slowly climb upwards, without ever reaching the high point of the 1950s’.

When I wrote this in 1991, it seemed that the dynasty, such as it was, had come to an end. I expected that the death of Rajiv Gandhi would lead to a more rounded assessment of India’s first prime minister. Some of Nehru’s ideas had run their course; thus, for example, both political devolution and market-friendly economics were now widely recognised as more suitable to India’s needs than the earlier emphasis on central planning.

Yet it seemed to me in 1991 that other aspects of Nehru’s legacy were relevant, and needed to be reaffirmed; his commitment to Parliament and parliamentary procedures, his attempts to insulate public institutions from political interference, his vigorous defence of religious pluralism and of gender equality, his nurturing of centres of scientific research and teaching that had helped create India’s software boom. Younger Indians also would, I thought, come to recognise the enormity of the challenges Nehru and his colleagues had to face in the first critical years of Independence.

However, I was mistaken in thinking that Nehru was being finally freed of the burden of his descendants. In 1998 Sonia Gandhi was asked to take charge of the Congress. At the time of writing, she has been Congress president for a staggering 16 terms in succession. Meanwhile, her son Rahul Gandhi has been explicitly anointed as her successor. The Nehru-Gandhis has promoted dynastic politics in other ways, by, for example, naming hundreds of new government programmes after members of their family.

As the sociologist André Béteille has remarked, the posthumous career of Nehru has come increasingly to reverse a famous Biblical injunction. In the Bible, it is said that the sins of the father will visit seven successive generations. In Nehru’s case, the sins of daughter, grandsons, granddaughter-in-law and great-grandson have been retrospectively visited on him.

(Ironically, Nehru himself had no wish or desire to create a political dynasty. When he died in May 1964, Indira Gandhi was in private life. She became prime minister entirely by accident, appointed only because Lal Bahadur Shastri — her father’s successor — died prematurely in January 1966.)

In his pomp — which ran roughly from 1948 to 1960 — Nehru was venerated at home and abroad. Representative are these comments of The Guardian, written after the Indian prime minister had addressed a press conference in London in the summer of 1957:

‘A hundred men and women of the West were being given a glimpse of the blazing power that commands the affection and loyalty of several hundred million people in Asia. There is nothing mysterious about it. Mr Nehru’s power is purely and simply a matter of personality. … Put in its simplest terms, it is the power of a man who is father, teacher and older brother rolled into one. The total impression is of a man who is humorous, tolerant, wise and absolutely honest.’

The object of perhaps excessive adulation while he was alive, Nehru’s achievements have been progressively under-valued after his death. The demonisation of the man is now ubiquitous in popular and political discourse, and perhaps especially in cyberspace. So long as Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are active in public life this state of affairs shall prevail. Only after the last member of his family has exited the stage of Indian politics might a judicious and credible appreciation of Nehru’s life and legacy finally become possible.

The views expressed by the author are personal


courtesy : "The Hindustan Times", New Delhi, May 24, 2014

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED