WILLIAM DALRYMPLE: …the RSS was founded in direct imitation of European fascist movements, and like its 1930s fascist models it still makes much of daily parading in khaki drill and the giving of militaristic salutes: the RSS salute differs from that of the Nazis only in the angle of the arm, which is held horizontally over the chest. The RSS sees this as an attempt to create a corps of dedicated paramilitary zealots who, so the theory goes, will form the basis of a revival of a golden age of national strength and racial purity. The BJP was founded as the political wing of the RSS and most senior BJP figures have an RSS background, holding posts in both organisations. The RSS and the BJP both believe, as the centrepiece of their ideology, that India is in essence a Hindu nation and that minorities, especially Muslims, may live in India only if they acknowledge this.
Madhav Golwalkar, the early RSS leader still known simply as “the Guru”, was the man who formulated the outlines of the RSS world-view and looked directly to the Nazi thinkers of 1930s Germany. He took particular inspiration from Hitler’s treatment of German religious minorities. “To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging of its Semitic Race, the Jews,” Golwalkar wrote admiringly in 1938.
“Race pride at its highest has been manifested there. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures having differences going to the root to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by . . . The foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no ideas but those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture . . . or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizen’s rights.”
During Partition, the RSS was responsible for many of the worst atrocities against Muslims, and it was a former RSS swayamsevak, Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 for “pandering to the minorities”.
In the aftermath of the assassination, Pandit Nehru decided to deal firmly with the Hindu nationalists and he denounced the RSS as a “private army which is definitely proceeding on the strictest Nazi lines”. Partly as a result of this, the Hindu nationalists were an insignificant political force during the first decades of independent India; but by the 1980s they had returned with a vengeance. Today the RSS has roughly 40 million members, organised under 40,000 district centres across the country.
This was the organisation that took Modi in, and which, he acknowledges, made him what he is. “I got the inspiration to live for the nation from the RSS,” he said recently in an interview. “I learned to live for others, and not for myself. I owe it all to the RSS.” More here.