Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Indian Friends of Hitler (and Tojo)

Liberals everywhere are shocked at the BJP victory and wondering how did India get to this point. The backs of envelopes are filled up with sketches of straight lines drawn between two co-ordinates (Jews, 1939) and (Muslims, 2014). The imaginary gas chambers have also been fired up and are ready to go.

Assuming however that such an extreme scenario is unlikely (we are hopeful), there are still important questions to be asked (and a few history lessons to be learned) which may point to where Modi plans to go from here to the future. 

Is BJP truly a fascist party? Yes, the gloves do seem to fit quite snugly.  
Are there RSS honchos who carry feelings towards Muslims just like Hitler once (and many many German leaders) felt about Jews? Yes, however the favored approach now is assimilation and not assassination (for muslims, same difference).  
Finally, is it true that there were Indian nationalists who supported Hitler and Tojo in order to get rid of the Holocaust architects of South Asia- the British? Why, yes, that is also very much a part of Indian history, even though the Nehru-Gandhis have tried hard to rub it out. And Netaji Subhash Bose has plenty of fans even to this day, and not just in liberal-left Bengal.
It was not just Netaji though, was it? There were famous muslim partners of Hitler, including a number of Waffen-SS divisions comprising of Bosnians-Kosovars-Albanian muslims. The Mufti of Jerusalem (Haj Amin Al-Husseini) raised 20,000 troops for Hitler and was a proud partner of the Third Reich. It will be no surprise if some of these valiant leaders/soldiers and  their exploits have found a pride of place in the History of Ummah.

Love of Hitler, or to be precise, love of the Fuhrer's Friends now and in the past, seems to be much more universal than the liberals in the West are willing to let on.
To Muslims in both India and Pakistan, Modi may represent the devil they know; a leader whose economic success and reputation for leadership provides stability and confidence. 

More importantly, given Modi’s Indian nationalism, these voting patterns suggest India’s Muslims who supported the BJP see themselves as Indians first and Muslims second.

The powerful Indian nationalist sentiment Modi has tapped into draws upon allegiances and ties some Americans might find troubling. At a May 8 BJP rally in Varanasi, Modi honored a 115 year old Indian colonel who served under Subhash Chandra Bose in the Indian National Army (INA). 

Known to most Indians as Netaji, Bose was recognized by the Axis Powers during World War II as India’s rightful government, whose support he sought against the British to help India achieve independence. INA soldiers fought alongside the Japanese against the British in the Burma campaign, were defeated, and 300 officers were tried for treason. In August 1945, Netaji (Bose) died in a plane crash in Japanese-occupied Taiwan.

Outside of India, the INA’s legacy has been mostly forgotten. But within the country—and especially among India’s rising business titans—Netaji is revered.  

“I believe India would have been a powerful exporter much before China if only Netaji had a front seat in our policy making along with (Jawaharlal) Nehru,” said Infosys Technologies founder Narayana Murthy at Netaji’s 114th birthday celebration. “Netaji was one of the most courageous leaders in India.”

It is the name absent from that list which speaks loudest. Mahatma Gandhi, whom many Americans see as India’s most important founding father, does not command the same respect throughout his country.  

Although Gandhi’s 1948 assassination inspired national mourning, it was sponsored by the Hindu Mahasabha, the spiritual and political forerunner to the BJP. The conspirators saw killing Gandhi as a necessary evil, believing his policies would destroy India. 

In the Hindu nationalist view, although Gandhi led a powerful nonviolent resistance movement, he was responsible for giving away Pakistan, setting India on a ruinous economic course, and promoting the country’s cultural division into 22 official languages.

Although Gandhi had few good options for evicting the British and uniting India, Hindu nationalists believe his nonviolence and socialism were fine for spirituality but had no place in statecraft. Ironically, this makes Modi the Mahatma’s antithesis and populist successor. Like Gandhi, Modi’s charismatic patriotism, austere lifestyle and disciplined leadership have won India’s trust. But Modi’s conservative policies run contrary to the socialist Congress, and thus the vote is a clear mandate for change. “He is our Obama,” several Modi voters told me, perhaps unaware of how far off the mark our current president fell from his soaring campaign rhetoric.

No one really knows how Modi will affect India’s international relations, but his hardline conservatism and long memory suggest he will be friendly towards countries who have steadfastly supported India’s independence. Ties to Russia have endured since the Cold War, when India embraced the Soviet Union after the United States supported Pakistan. 

In 2007, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Netaji’s memorial in Kolkata, a gesture Modi is unlikely to forget. 

Relations with China could benefit from India’s economic rise, should India grow as a consumer market, or become strained through geopolitical competition, if skirmishes occurred over the Arunachal Pradesh or Aksai Chin border disputes.

In the Mahabharata, the epic Hindu scriptures, Lord Shiva is depicted as a multi-formed enigma, embodying both honor and brilliance as well as invincibility and terror. Modi supporters treat the 2002 violence—in which they tacitly acknowledge his responsibility—with an Indian equivalent of a Gallic shrug: it was unfortunate, they say, but sometimes good people are forced to do bad things. His opponents respond, correctly, that Modi’s victory repudiates Gandhi’s vision of religious unity, and is thus an Indian tragedy. Shiva has many forms in the Hindu tradition, but the two most dominant are as either a benefactor or a destroyer.

One of every five people—22% of the world’s population—lives in either India or the United States. By 2025, according to current projections, India will overtake China as the world’s most populous country. “They are much the most interesting people in the world—and the nearest to being incomprehensible,” Mark Twain concluded about Indians. “Their character and their history, their customs and their religion, confront you with riddles at every turn—riddles which are a trifle more perplexing after they are explained than they were before.” 

If Ma Ganga could speak, she could not have better explained the man poised to lead her dynamic and paradoxical nation. Only time—or, perhaps, the sacred river—can tell which of Lord Shiva’s many incarnations the devout Hindu leader will become.
Link (1): http://www.the-american-interest.com/articles/2014/05/15/what-does-a-modi-win-mean/

Link (2): http://www.monbiot.com/2005/12/27/how-britain-denies-its-holocausts/


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