On Hitler's presence in Gujarat textbooks

Some years ago, the media filled itself up with reports of school textbooks in Gujarat praising Adolf Hitler and hailing him as a great personality. Apparently, in Narendra Modi’s rule, the very fabric of Indian democracy was being twisted and warped beyond recognition. For those who were already opposed to the BJP, these reports came in handy. They weren’t going to let go of another chance to equate Modi with Hitler, were they?

Even today, one common stick that the so-called liberals of India hit Hindus with is what I have come to call “the Hitler weapon”. Guilt by association can be made to work wonders when you have neither the ability, nor the willingness to go into finer details of the matter. The Hitler ruckus rose and fell quickly, as things always do in the media, but it left a lasting impression in a large part of the public consciousness that there was something Hitlerian going on in Gujarat. Such impressions, created out of nothing, and enforced by constant media bombardment, hardly ever leave once they set in.

But the truth is surprising, and it has been fairly well-documented in an article by Aravindan Neelakandan. With first hand sources and research that one wishes the media had done before spreading the canard, Neelakandan demonstrates how the collective summoning of the Hitler weapon was based on little more than hearsay, deception, selective quoting, and politically motivated misinformation.

What is even more confounding is the revelation that the said offensive textbooks that exploded on to the world’s media consciousness were not actually created during Modi’s rule.
Now for the O.Henry twist in the tale. The book that we just discussed was actually prepared by a panel of authors not during Modi’s regime but during the Congress regime in 1993. They continued to be in the use and were reprinted as a routine exercise in 2003. Yet the media out to lynch Modi jumped at it and made an issue – such a huge issue – that even Israeli consulate saw it fit to interfere and Modi Government contribution to these texts happen to be an introduction of a line stating that Hitler was an evil person.
The writer even debunks one scholar’s assertion that “To some extent, the rest of the nation is better off” when he compares the Gujarat textbooks to those in DMK-ruled Tamilnadu and demonstrates (by actually comparing scans of the pages) that there is more Hitler praise in TN schools than there is in Gujarat.
Here I have before me ‘History and Civics’ Matriculation text book for the same X standard prepared by Tamil Nadu Text book corporation in the year 2006. The Government of Tamil Nadu is run by DMK, a political party which is a major ally in the ruling Congress coalition. What is more it is a party which has been praised for its secular credentials by Congress chief umpteen times followed with eulogies by Communists, Muslim League and TMMK – the last being a Wahabhi outfit which demanded recently that India pass law for stoning ‘immoral’ women. All these organizations and parties are committed to a secular India with religion based personal civil laws. Hence their secular credentials are impeccable. Now the text book I have in my hand is thus prepared by such an impeccable secular democratic government and to add a more secular touch this Government history textbook has been prepared by a panel of authors with a Catholic nun Sr. Mary Zacharia as chair person. 
This textbook also contains a Unit titled ‘World between the wars’. This also deals with Fascism and Nazism. And Presto there are these subheadings on the achievements of both Nazism and Fascism. Let me give you some selective quotes from the text and one judge for oneself as to how the textbook stands based on the same yardstick that media and academics used for Gujarat textbooks. Here is a quote from the text on Hitler: “The Germans were looking for someone to save them and restore their pride. Adolf Hitler came in the form of a saviour.”
One is left to wonder how things can end up being SO upside down. But then again… this is India — a “secular” country with different laws for people from different religious communities. Bizarro world indeed!

Do read the article in question over at Sulekha.comConning with Nazi textbooks by Aravindan Neelakandan, who has co-authored a recent book called Breaking India – Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines with Rajiv Malhotra.