Ram Puniyani June, 2014
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.
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.