Narendra Modi, the new prime minister of India, as of May 2014, worked for a fascist paramilitary. This is not an exaggeration. Modi, who proudly calls himself a “Hindu nationalist,” is a former full-time worker for and a strong supporter of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS is a fascist organization. During World War II, it openly admired Mussolini and Hitler, quoting them favorably in its books (quotes are included below).
As Indian intellectual and dissident Arundhati Roy said in a recent lecture, “we call them fascists because they call themselves fascists. They, in their books, admire the fascists.”
I hope I do not need to explain why exactly it is important that the prime minister of the world’s largest capitalist democracy worked for a fascist paramilitary.
I transcribed the rest of the lecture from Arundhati Roy. The rise of far-right Hindu nationalism in India is truly frightening.
And, of course, like all examples of fascism in history, it is happily supported by powerful corporate interests. (Daniel Guérin, in his 1938 book Fascism and Big Business, painstakingly proved this to be the case. The same is equally true today. Big business and fascism go together like hand and glove.) Modi is simultaneously a far-right nationalist and a raving neoliberal.
Beginning at 0:47:
I just want to tell you who this man is. He was a member of an organization called the RSS, which is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which was set up in 1927, inspired by the fascists in Italy, inspired by Mussolini. One of their greatest heroes is Adolf Hitler. They very openly praise Adolf Hitler—and I’ll read you some of the things that their books say.
In 2002, when Modi was the chief minister, a train full of pilgrims coming back from the destruction of this Ayodhya mosque, which was disputed, the train caught fire; nobody knows who set fire to the train, and 57 pilgrims were burnt.
[The pilgrims were mostly Hindu, and, as Roy says, they had been visiting the holy city of Ayodhya for religious observance at the site of the former Babri Mosque, which had been destroyed in a right-wing extremist Hindu riot in 1992, which then inspired a serious of violent anti-Muslim riots to sweep across India in 1992 and 1993, killing over 2000 people, mostly Muslim.]
In reaction to that, under his watch, right-wing Hindu mobs went crazy in Gujarat. They burnt, and killed, and raped, and something like between 1000 and 2000 Muslims were massacred openly on the streets of Gujarat. 100,000 people were drive from their homes. The people who did the killing were helped by the police.
There was a member of the legislative assembly, called Ehsan Jafri, who had the temerity to stand against Modi in the elections. His house was surrounded by a mob of 20,000 people. He made something like 200 phone calls, asking for help. The police vans came there and went away; they didn’t do anything. The mobs surrounded the house. … There were many people sheltering in his house. He came down and he said, ‘Look, do what you like to me, but let the women be. Let the people who are taking shelter in my place be.’
They cut off his arms; they cut off his legs; they dragged his body around the place; and then they killed all the people. They raped the women and they burned them alive. And Modi said ‘well, if there is an action, there will be a reaction.’
And this man is now the front-runner to be the prime minister of India.
Well folks, on 16 May 2014, Modi won the election.*
But “fascist”? Is that an extreme characterization?
Not at all, it is entirely accurate.
At 3:25, Roy continues saying: “I just want to read you some of the things that the organization to which he belongs say[s]. These are some excerpts from a [1938/1939] book called We: or Our Nationhood Defined, by M. S. Golwalkar, who succeeded Dr. B. S. Moonje, as head of the RSS in 1914:
‘Ever since that evil day, when Muslims first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The race spirit has been awakening. …
In Hindustan, land of the Hindus, lives and should live the Hindu Nation. … All others are traitors and enemies to the National Cause, or, to take a charitable view, idiots. …
The foreign races in Hindustan … may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment-not even citizen’s rights. …
To keep up the purity of its race and 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 Hindustan to learn and profit by.
Not only did the founding leaders of the RSS admire Hitler, the vehemently anti-Muslim Hindu right has also, unsurprisingly, been extremely Zionist. This is by no means the first time in history Nazis and other fascists have supported the settler colonialist ideology of Zionism. By no means at all.
And the fascist RSS is not small. Roy explains:
By the year 2000 the RSS had more than 60,000 branches, and an army of more than 4,000,000 volunteers, preaching its doctrine around India.
Now, at the time when the pogrom against the Muslims happened in 2002, there was an outcry, and people were shocked, but, since then, Modi has won the elections four times.
And now he has become the most favorite candidate of India’s greatest corporations, because he is bringing in a lot of private investment. So if you bring in the money, then a little killing, a little raping, overseeing all of that, is not such a bad thing.
So you have a situation where this kind of open—I mean, we call them fascists because they call themselves fascists. They, in their books, admire the fascists. So you have this fascism on the rise on the one side, while you have thousands of young Muslim boys who are in jail, accused of being terrorists.
Anti-Muslim bigotry is the anti-Semitism of the 20th century (anti-Semitism is still a problem, of course, but my point is simply that the degree to which it was prevalent in the 20th century is matched, if not surpassed, by the prevalence of Islamophobia in the 21st). The new target of 21st-century fascism are Muslims.
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* Can we call it a legitimate democratic election? Well, if you consider bourgeois liberal capitalist democracies in which candidates win with votes from a minority of the population democracies. As a friend on Facebook pointed out (in his words):
The total population of [India] is 1.27 billion people. The total electoral is 810,000,000 people out of which total polling percentage was 66.3% which brings the number of people who voted to roughly 541,000,000 people. BJP vote share and has been consistent through the day is 31%.
That is roughly votes from 173,120,000 people, and officially on the ECI website as of 18:56pm, it is 165,480,309 people.
If you add the rest of the NDA, with voteshares of TDP 2.0%, Shiv Sena 1.9% and SAD 0.7%, and you add their tally to BJP’s 165-173 million people, you still don’t even come close to a real numerical majority.
In brief, a billion people, counting your kids, and quite a few adivasis [indigenous peoples] who the census of India doesn’t even know exist, did not vote for Modi.
But alright, out of 810,000,000 people, the electorate, some who couldn’t vote because they were beaten away, many whose names were missing, others aware of this sham of elections, come to roughly 600,000,000 million people, who also did not vote for Modi. So if someone says, ‘India’ has spoken, ask them to shut the fuck up, and start talking about Proportional Representation.