Goebbels once said, ‘If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.’ The term ‘a big lie’ essentially means a propaganda, an expression coined by Adolf Hitler where he wrote in his book ‘Mein Kampf’ about the use of a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone could have the audacity to distort the truth of that magnitude.
It’s maintained by sources that Goebbels and the Nazis used the ‘big lie’ to turn long-held anti-Semitic emotion to carry out large-scale genocide, killing more than six million Jews in Europe, according to some estimates.
In fact, the big lie was used in building up the narrative of a so called innocent besieged Germany striking back at an ‘international Jewry,’ whose roots could be apparently traced back to World War I. This propaganda was repeated over and over again, reiterating that the Jews were the real powers in Britain, Russia and the US.
The lies went on to state that the Jews had begun a ‘war of extermination’ against Germany and so the country had a duty and a right to ‘exterminate’ and ‘annihilate’ the Jews in self–defense.
Something similar and equally sinister has been happening in India with the right-wing brigade spreading similar lies concerning the imaginary population growth of a particular community.
The right wing in India has long dabbled in fear-mongering about Muslims becoming the largest religious group in India, according to Mohan Bhagwat the rate of growth of Hindus is 2.1 percent, while the same for Muslims was allegedly 5.2 percent. His argument was that if the growth of Hindu population continued to lag behind, today’s majority community will be pushed to become the country’s minority community in 50 years as a result of the rapid growth of Muslim population in India.
As people commemorated the 135th birth anniversary of Savarkar, eulogizing him as a nationalist and freedom fighter, Twitterati owing allegiance to India’s right-wing brigade asked the detractors of the RSS if there was any Congress leader, who got 27 years of rigorous imprisonment, without bothering to check the fact that Savarkar served only 11 years of his 50-year-jail term. This despite the so-called ‘Veer’ (brave) Savarkar writing at least five mercy petitions to the British establishment.
Pranab Mukherjee invited as guest at RSS event
Former President of India and veteran Congress leader, Pranab Mukherjee, recently kicked up a political storm after he accepted an invitation from the RSS to be its guest for an event scheduled for 7 June (today). Mukherjee, who arrived in Nagpur on Wednesday, is the chief guest at the ‘valedictory function’ of the three-year graduation course conducted by the RSS.
Mukherjee accepting the invitation from the RSS is a sign of the unfortunate times that we find ourselves in. Questions are rightly being asked if the upholder of the constitution and one who has served as the First Citizen of the country until recently, gives legitimacy to the divisive agenda of the RSS. It is akin to belittling all of India’s liberal fraternity, some of whom (read Gauri Lankesh, Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi and Govind Pansare) have had to pay a heavy price in their fight to safeguard the multicultural ethos of India.
Just because bigots are in power it does not mean one makes peace with them. By accepting to be the chief guest at the RSS event, Pranab Mukherjee has utterly exposed himself. The RSS, as an organisation, has been untouchable for a large swathe of the Indian liberal society, not without a reason. Its ideology is divisive and its politics destructive. It’s time we all woke up to this fact.
Gone are the days when these elements were branded as belonging to fringe groups. The fringe of the past have rapidly metamorphosed into a mainstream force.
Contrary to the ongoing efforts by the RSS to project MS Golwalkar as the prophet of a resurgent Hindu India, who, according to them, was a saint, akin to Vivekananda. Efforts are being made to hide Golwalkar’s reality as an individual, who was committed to the concept of Hindutva, where minorities like Muslims and Christians would only allowed to exist as second class citizens and Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism would exist only as part of Hinduism and not as independent faiths.
Under Golwalkar’s leadership, the RSS grew into a powerful organisation, firmly opposed to any democratic or secular values. According to Golwalkar, to rule all over the world was the heavenly task ordained to the ‘Hindu’ race.
Golwalkar, in his book We or Our Nationhood Defined made it amply clear that the concept of the Hindu nation by its very genesis and nature would have no affinity to the freedom struggle. He even went to the extent of calling a united freedom struggle of all communities and sections as ‘destabilisation’, while rejecting the idea of composite nationalism.
Golwalkar and the RSS are known for their support to the Zionists against the people of Palestine. However, here we detect a glaring contradiction as not only did he rejoice the cleansing of Jews by Hitler and celebrate the Holocaust, but he also urged for the same methodology to be adopted in Hindu India to get rid of minorities.
But Golwalker was not alone in praising the fascist Italy or Nazi Germany. His mentor and originator of the concept of Hindutva, Savarkar of the Hindu Mahasabha also had great liking for Hitler and Mussolini. While delivering the presidential address to the 22nd session of the Hindu Mahasabha at Mathura in 1940, he had said, “There is no reason to suppose that Hitler must be a human monster because he passes off as a Nazi or Churchill as a demi-god because he calls himself a democrat. Nazism proved undeniably the saviour of Germany under the set of circumstances Germany was placed in.”
The RSS was banned once during the British rule and then on three occasions by the post independence Indian governments- in 1948, post the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse, then during the emergency between 1975 and 77 and immediately after the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992.
These are just some of the frightening legacy of the RSS. Some of the fiercest critics of the RSS have detected a dangerous similarity between the dreaded terrorist organisation, ISIS, and the Nagpur-based Indian right-wing organisation. It is in this context that liberals in India are questioning. Was it then right for the former President of India Pranab Mukherjee to give legitimacy to the RSS by agreeing to be the chief guest at its event.
Conspiracy theorists are already floating the idea that Mukherjee is hoping to soften the RSS for possible support as a ‘consensus’ candidate if a favourable coalition does emerge from the polls next year. In fact even veteran congress leader Jairam Ramesh, wrote to him stating that his visit to the RSS headquarters will be a negation of his entire political life.
What Pranab Mukherjee will say today remains to be seen. All we can say is that one need’nt soften ones position just because bigots are in power.
(Saira Shah Halim is an educator and a civil and human rights activist who’s actively involved with causes such as gender equality, safeguarding secularism and democracy and women’s issues)