Obama, RSS, and Modi

Once a rioter, now a bedfellow!!
Once a rioter, now a bedfellow!!

RSS, and Modi, and Obama? What the heck is this all about?

Wait. Don’t be so impatient. Let me explain.

RSS — (see below).

Modi — Current prime minister of India, who is RSS (see below). He was indicted a few years ago of inciting a bloody communal riot in the state of Gujarat, and the U.S. government had refused to give him a visa.

(Well…that was then. Now he is a “best friend” the U.S. government has.)

And Obama — we all know Obama. He is now about to visit India, and meet with Modi.

(He is leaving immediately, as a matter of fact.)

Happy? No? Well, let me explain more.

Q. (1) Do you know of RSS?

You do? What is it?

Really Simple Syndication? The computer stuff?


I’m talking about RSS, or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.


Wait. Let me explain.

Rashtriya means national, Swayamsevak means volunteer, Sangh means organization. These are all Sanskrit or Hindi or Bengali words.

So, this RSS I’m talking about is basically the National Volunteer Organization. It’s a powerful, grassroots organization in India. They have their branches in all big and many small cities, and numerous villages too. They have millions of volunteers across India and in many other countries too.

Q. (2) What do they do?

They organize Hindus.

Hum. So, what do they believe in?

They believe in India as a Hindu Rashtra, or Hindu nation. (Well, they also once believed in the assassination of Gandhi, and one of their ex-members actually killed Gandhi, but we’ll reserve that story for later. Does Obama know? He should.)

BTW, just to make sure everybody understands, I am a Hindu myself, and actually unlike many of my lefty friends, I am neither a communist nor a Hindu-basher. I identify quite well with my Hinduism.

Q. (3) How can we compare RSS with a similar organization in other countries?

In USA, you can perhaps compare them with the Christian Coalition or Tea Party. In Bangladesh, they are perhaps comparable to Jamat-e-Islami. In France, perhaps, Le Pen’s National Front.

Modi, a lifelong member of the militant RSS. This is a fact. And they are proud of it too.
Modi, a lifelong member of the militant RSS. This is a fact. And they are proud of it. (Modi, however, does not dawn those khaki half pants no mo.)

No? National Front is a political organization, and RSS is not? Okay. So, RSS has its political organization too. It’s called BJP, or Bharatiya Janata Party, or Indian People’s Party. They are now in power in India. And Modi is their elected leader.

Q. (4) What are the similarities for these various groups?

Basically, the similarities across these groups globally are: (1) Religious and racial supremacy; (2) Anti-immigrant politics; (3) Strong anti-socialism views; (4) Exclusionist nationalistic economy; (5) Anti-labor union; (6) Anti-gender-equality; and (7) Emphasis on military might. There are more, but we’ll stop for now.

Well, Narendra Modi is now very willing to be a close partner of the mighty U.S. economy, and U.S. of course is delighted that the Indian government is now even more willing than ever before to sell off its economy to U.S. corporations. India’s new finance minister Arun Jaitley, also a hardcore RSS member, has already slashed India’s already-dismal health care subsidies for the poor, and proposed sell-off of massive amounts of Indian land to foreign corporations. This is all, supposedly, to comply with IMF and World Bank dictates.

So, Modi, who was indicted of a bloody, communal riot in the state of Gujarat in 2002 (that saw a massive slaughter of poor Muslims), and thus denied a U.S. visa then, is now a very lovable, huggable, dear bedfellow.

I once wrote a book on RSS, BJP and their philosophies and politics and grassroots organizing. I wrote it from an insider point of view.

Hope you look it up.

Signing off for now (with a deep, frustrated sigh),


Brooklyn, New York


Beware, and read that history book!
Beware, and read that history book!


  1. Hi!in nyork on 5th please send me your phone no.would love to meet up if you find some time. …leave on the 9th!Best wishes,Anita.

  2. Curious, Partha, do you ever get tired of slamming India, the only Hindu-majority state in the world, as well as Israel, the only Jewish-majority state in the world…

    …all the while either downplaying, excusing or otherwise whitewashing the utter failed Islamic so-called States of Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen et al?

    Since I like to be *alive*, I’d rather be gay, a woman or a religious minority in ANY non-Islamic State, and most definitely India and Israel.

  3. I was going to leave the following comment on FB where you shared this, but the post has been removed, so I will leave it here, Partha. I kept it short, because of the FB format, but I will add a little to it here since there is more room. As you will see, though, the topic could lead to ongoing, multi-faceted conversation, reflection and study.

    The old saying: “Politics makes strange bedfellows” is equally true in the international arena. Just a thought: ALL politics requires some compromise of one’s belief system, or, on a practical level, it will not accomplish anything. The question is when is that compromise a full-on sellout, or the equivalent? When should one hold out for that extra mile, knowing the risk of losing it all to a totally unacceptable opponent is very high, approaching certainty? I am not specifically speaking of these two and their national/international political chess-matches. I am speaking even more broadly, to the philosophy of practical politics, if there is such a thing. (end of attempted FB comment)

    While I do not agree with President Obama meeting with a man with such history, even if that man does now represent one of the largest nations on earth, with such a storied and diverse culture and history, I see that meeting occurring out of exegencies of politics, some extremely practical, some more crassly commercial. I understand that Pakistan is an unstable friend at best, not a friend of India, either, and the U.S. cannot put all its security interests in that basket. The crassly commercial is the business interests of both countries, and the international money behind those interests, that want to benefit from unecumbered, and unregulated, trade. This, as NAFTA has shown, is not good for the working class in either country.

    Knowing history, I also know that the U.S. has historically supported and worked will all sorts of monstrous leaders in virtually every part of the world. John Kennedy’s father, when Ambassador to England before WW2, was willing to play footsie with Hitler because he thought they could help force Britian out of the remainder of Ireland. At the behest of commercial interests, many U.S. presidents have been friendly with dictators in many parts of the world, especially Latin America and Africa. While the Republicans wail about now re-engaging with Cuba with a dictatorial government, that has definitely committed some atrocities, they forget that the government we propped up, the one Castro replaced, was headed by a dictator who engaged in acts that were so much worse in scope and frequency. While we were holding out against Castro, we have, for 40 years, been selling ourselves to China, whose human rights record is also atrocious. I guess some Communists are better than others. We backed repressive Shah-led regime in Iran, and paid the price when he was ousted. The irony is that some of those whose acts we condemn today are the same players doing the same things as when we supported them. Heck, we even armed the Taliban, Afganistan’s version of ISIS.

    So I repeat my theoretical question: If compromise is necessary to gain and hold power to accomplish good, how much compromise will negate that good? How is one to know, and when is it practical to oppose that which should not be accepted?

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