Freedom From Religion Foundation Communications Director Amitabh Pal interviewed for the organization’s national radio show University of Turin Professor Marzia Casolari about her groundbreaking book, In the Shadow of the Swastika, spotlighting the influence of Italian fascism and Nazism on the Hindu nationalist movement currently governing India. (The interview starts at the 25-minute mark into the show.) Casolari details the admiration that the founders of Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) had for Benito Mussolini, sometimes traveling all the way to Italy to get an audience with Il Duce. Mussolini, on his part, saw these far-right Indian nationalists as a way to undermine the British Empire. The intellectual godfathers of the Hindu right (such as V.D. Savarkar, whose portrait currently adorns the Indian Parliament)  also openly proclaimed that Nazism provided a way of dealing with the Muslim minority in India.

Most startlingly, Casolari furnishes details on how a prominent Hindu nationalist leader, B.S. Moonje, closely observed Italian youth organizations during his visit to the country and then copied their structures into the RSS–a group that is none other than the fountainhead of the party currently ruling India. (Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the RSS when he was 8 years old.)

Professor Casolari brings the analysis to the present by convincingly drawing parallels between Mussolini’s racial laws and the religiously exclusionary citizenship legislation that Modi’s government has tried to make the law of the land in India.

Amitabh Pal

Casolari has provided a leap forward for scholarship in offering concrete details about the intermeshing of fascism and Hindutva – from the early 20th century to the current day.

Find out more and listen to the show here:

Amitabh Pal

Banner: Memorial of Dr. Hedgewar and M. S. Golwalkar (First and second chiefs of Hindu supremacist organisation RSS) at Gandhibagh, Nagpur. Wikipedia Commons

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