Hindu Vivek Kendra

11. Guilt by association

11.1 A feature of the Report is to establish guilt by association. The case that the authors of the Report are trying to build up is on the basis that the Sangh is a fascist organisation. For this purpose, they rely on an article ("Hindutva's foreign tie-up in the 1930s: Archival Evidence", Economic and Political Weekly, Jan 22, 2000) by Marzia Casolari, identified as an Italian scholar, on the alleged links between Mussolini and the RSS. The information provided by Casolari makes them to arrive at the source of what they call the 'violent underpinnings of Hindutva'.

11.2 So, a detailed analysis of this article will enable us to shed some light on this whole fascist thing. Casolari says, "..the fascist ideological background of Hindu fundamentalism is taken for granted, (but) never proved by a systematic analysis." And so, she says, she will do so in her article.

11.3 She also says: "More generally, the aim of this paper is that of disproving Christophe Jaffrelot's thesis that there is a sharp distinction between nazi and fascist ideology on one side and RSS on the other side as far as the concept of race and the centrality of leader are concerned."

11.4 Jaffrelot has written an anti-RSS book, based on a detailed field study of the activities of the organisation in Madhya Pradesh. He is often invited to speak and write against the Sangh at various forums. In his book ("The Hindu nationalist Movement and Indian Politics 1925 to the 1990s", pp 61-62, Viking Publication, 1993.), Jafferlot wrote:

· The kind of metaphor used by Golwalkar . echoes his scientific education. Students of natural science were always strongly represented in the RSS, possibly because of the importance of organicism in its ideology. Hedgewar was a doctor, Golwalkar studied and taught zoology, Rajendra Singh, who became sarsanghchalak in 1994, graduated in physics; H.V. Seshadri, who was to become General Secretary of the organisation, in chemistry; and K.S. Sudarshan in engineering.

· The organicist character of Golwalkar's ideology is reminiscent of certain aspects of Nazism. There are more obvious affinities between the two than between Hindu nationalism and Italian fascism since both share a strong emphasis on ethnic homogeneity. However, three differences remain. First, as emphasised in the previous section, the supreme concept in the RSS's doctrine is not race but society. In Golwalkar's works the promotion of an organic society is more important than the purity of the race. Second, even though Nazism attributed more importance than did Italian fascism to the organic nation in comparison to the state, Hitler was nostalgic for the 'old Reich' and valued the state as a means to promote the interests of the race. According to Hitler the 'mission' of the Nazi movement was 'the creation of a Germanic State'. This explains his preoccupation with the need to capture power as a matter of urgency, as attested by the aborted coup of 1923. The RSS, by contrast, is not a putschist organisation and Golwalkar considered that Hitler's capture of the state was a mistake.

· (Golwalkar said:) Hitler's movement centred round politics. We try to build life without being wedded to politics. It is many times found that many are gathered for political purpose. But when that purpose fails, unity is lost. We do not want any temporary achievement but an abiding oneness. And so we have kept ourselves aloof from politics.

11.5 So, we are expected to believe Casolari who has done some archival study, and some conjecture, all based on deskwork, and ignore one who has done a more detailed study on the aspect of fascism of the Sangh.

11.6 In any case, let us analyse the 'proof' provided by Casolari. The Report says Dr. B S Moonje, a well-wisher of the founder of the RSS, Dr Hedgewar, 'visited and met with Mussolini and was granted permission by Mussolini to observe and understand the nature of the fascist organisational structure.' This gives an impression that Moonje had a fascist inclination and had undertaken a special visit to Italy for the purpose studying fascism in greater detail.

11.7 The facts, as narrated by Casolari, are that Moonje went on a tour of Europe between February and March 1931, on his return from the Round Table Conference in London. He spent nine days in Rome between 15 to 24 March, out of which he spent one day, March 19, visiting six organisations working towards the fascist programme of Mussolini. Casolari says: "The same day, namely on 19 March 1931, at 3 p.m., in Palazzo Venezia, the headquarters of the fascist government, he met the Italian dictator." And she further says that Moonje recorded in his diary that he spent thirty minutes with Mussolini. She also says: "The description of the Italian journey includes information regarding fascism, its history, the fascist 'revolution', etc, and continues for two more pages."

11.8 So this is the sum-total of contact between Moonje and Mussolini and his organisations. Casolari says, "Moonje's trip to Italy, contrary to what happened in the case of Subhas Chandra Bose and other nationalists, did not give place to any further cooperation between Hindu nationalism and the fascist regime. However, these contacts were important at the ideological and organizational level." She offers no proof, except innuendos, for the latter part of this quote. In this context, she has used the words 'must have' five times in the following context:

1. This interest (of Hindu radicalism in Italian fascism) was commonly shared in Maharashtra, and must have inspired B.S. Moonje's trip to Italy in 1931.

2. (I)t makes sense to think that the entire circle of militant Hinduism must have been influenced by Moonje's Italian experience. [Note from the Hindu Vivek Kendra: Makes sense to whom?]

3. The influence of fascist ideology and practice must have gone far beyond the limits of the main organizations of the Hindu militant nationalism and must have extended to the wide and intricate net of secondary militant groups and centres of physical education or paramilitary training.

4. The aggressive racial policy carried out by Germany must have played a fundamental role in this shift of interest from Italy to Germany.

5. Accordingly it makes sense to think that the organizations of militant Hinduism must have perceived the necessity to rehabilitate their political past and re-invent a more clear-cut anti-British stand.

11.9 The only time she has used the words 'must have not' is in context of placed the Muslims in a favourable light, as follows: "Apart from the fact that this must have not been the attitude of most of Indian Muslims, militant Hindus had exaggerated claims towards the Muslims."

11.10 And then she has also used the words 'most probably' five times (is five Casalori's lucky number?) as follows:

1. Less well known is the fact that, as showed by a confidential report circulated within the Congress most probably at the time of the first ban of the RSS, after Gandhi's assassination, the similarity between the character of the RSS and that of fascist organizations was already taken for granted.

2. Fascist ideas were widespread among the Hindu nationalists, at least in Maharashtra. The above mentioned script had been printed in the form of a pamphlet and distributed not only among the people Moonje tried to involve in his project, but, most probably, to an even wider public. Fascism therefore, had a certain popularity, which, unfortunately, is at present difficult to be measured.

3. The contacts that Savarkar tried to establish with the consulates of the Axis powers in Bombay did not bring any noticeable result. Most probably this happened because the outbreak of the war made any possible activity in collaboration with foreign powers much more difficult.

4. The only result of these contacts - which could materialize only through the German consulate - was, most probably, the circulation of the already mentioned speech of Savarkar in the German newspapers, in exchange for articles in favour of Germany's Jewish policy in the Marathi newspapers.

5. It is difficult to establish if the organizations of militant Hinduism were arming themselves against possible foreign invaders, the internal enemy, or the British. Most probably they aimed at arming themselves against all of them together, with the purpose of taking advantage of any possible solution.

11.11 Of course, this is not the only basis on which Casolari talks about the Mussolini influence on Moonje, and through him on the RSS. She mentions that the Marathi press discussed fascism right from the early phase of the Italian regime. As a proof of this, she says that 'from 1924 to 1935 "Kesari" regularly published editorials and articles about Italy, fascism and Mussolini.' She does not give the number of editorial and articles that appeared during this time. (Perhaps they do not amount to five, her lucky number.) However, she says that 'what impressed the Marathi journalists was the socialist origin of fascism and the fact that the new regime seemed to have transformed Italy from a backward country to a first class power.'

11.12 Casolari, at the beginning of her analysis, does say, "Indians could not know, then, that, behind the demagogic rhetoric of the regime, there was very little substance." However, she ignores this caveat in the rest of her writings, and based on allusions proceeds to 'demonstrate' that there exists 'direct contacts between the representatives of the fascist regime, including Mussolini, and the Hindu nationalists.'

11.13 It is well known that in 1931 it was not only Indians who did not know that there was little substance in the Italy of Mussolini, or the way the things would unfold in the next fifteen years. The admiration for the methods of Mussolini and his Fascist Party had a good spread, even in Europe.

11.14 We thus see that at best Casolari has established only a tenuous link between fascism and Moonje. We do not know who, other than Casolari, the authors of the Report, and all those who are associated with them, will even come to start to believe that a half an hour meeting between Mussolini and Moonje would have such a profound impact.

11.15 The other aspect of guilt by association relates to the whole thing about attributing the violence against religious minorities, dalits, vanvasis, etc., in India to the Sangh. Of course, all this flows from the fact that the Sangh is a fascist organisation, which is supposed to have been inspired by Mussolini.

11.16 As in the case of the Mussolini association, in this aspect too there are innuendos and vague accusations. There is no evidence provided where courts have prosecuted any of the Sangh organisations or individuals associated with it. They refer to commission reports, but do not mention that in no case there is a follow up done in terms of taking the matter to the appropriate courts.