Friday, July 01, 2005

What's with this Hitler Glorification?

Yesterday, as I was helping my sister with her homework, I noticed an incongrous thing on her Marathi guide. There were two pictures on the back cover. One was of Mahatma Gandhi. The other was of Adolf Hitler. Evidently the publishers consider them Great Men of equal stature.

I think this is part of a greater Indian tendency to glorify Hitler. In my history textbooks, much was made of the fact that Hitler supported Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and his Indian Army. The fact that Hitler called Bose the Fuehrer of India is highlighted as one of Bose's great accomplishments. However, it seems to me that the Nazi - INA alliance was largely a marriage of convenience. Hitler was by no means an Indophile. He regarded the subjugation of the entire Indian subcontinent by a handlful of British adventurers clinching proof of his theories of racial superiority. In fact, he probably regarded Indians as Untermensch (subhumans) as much as he did Africans and Slavs. His forced alliance with Indians against the British must have caused him a great deal of anguish indeed.

Another worrying aspect of such Hitler glorification can be found, again in Indian history textbooks. Mine praised him a lot for being the architect of German economic recovery after the First World War and the Great Depression. Hitler's less palatable legacy, including the Holocaust are largely glossed over. In fact, the history taught to Indian children smacks a lot of Holocaust denial (I don't know how it is outside the Maharashtra SSC Board, though).

And then there is the tendency of Indian politicians to look at Hitler as a kind of role model. It is known that Bal Thackeray of the Shiv Sena idolises Hitler. Mahatma Gandhi himself was known to have once praised Hitler as someone who did great things for his country. There is a small but vocal minority of home-grown Nazis like Jayantrao Chitale who openly identify with his ideology and methods. (Ironically, many of these Desi fascists also admire the Israelis for their tough line against Palestinian terrorists.)

I think this stuff needs to be stopped before it gets out of hand.

Posted in Politics and Economics, Education.


Post a Comment

<< Home