Saturday, March 31, 2012

IMF economist: Crisis begins with inequality

An interview with Michael Kumhof
Unless countries reduce income disparities the next financial collapse is inevitable, argues economist Michael Kumhof. Perhaps a surprising conclusion from a senior researcher at the IMF. In interview he argues that equality is the best recipe against crisis.


International Monetary Fund rescue packages are usually associated with "structural adjustment", privatisation and liberalisation. But IMF economist Michael Kumhof's recipe for avoiding crunches is increased equality – a conclusion that has brought him worldwide attention. Kumhof considers the cause of the financial crisis in 2008 and the debt crisis in 2011 to be increased inequality, especially in the United States. He has argued that in order to avert future crises, the negotiating position of the majority vis-à-vis the very rich needs to be strengthened. "I bet you've never heard an IMF economist call for increased salaries before. This is highly controversial", he says. But for an economist with hands-on experience in corporate banking who is vexed by economists who fail to anchor their theories sufficiently in the way the world actually works, it makes perfect sense. 

In a article co-written with Romain Rancière in 2010, Kumhof argues that increased gaps in income have led to increased household debt ratios. Nations with major income disparities tend to have the highest debt quotas, the largest financial sectors and often the biggest trade deficits. The richest five per cent of the population lends parts of its wealth to the remaining 95 per cent via an inflated financial sector. The rich try to find ways to invest their surplus wealth, while the less well-off majority attempt to maintain the level of consumption they have grown used to but no longer can afford. The result is increased indebtedness and the gradual build-up of a debt crisis. The only way of sustainably minimising this debt is to reduce income inequality



Kumhof comes across as your typical theoretical economist. A former assistant professor at Stanford, he currently holds the position Deputy Division Chief of the IMF Modelling Unit, the department responsible for developing economic models. Consequently, he is cautious when commenting on issues that may be politically charged. Well aware that he is representing the IMF, he avoids discussion of developments in specific countries. Nor does he suggest concrete measures to lessen inequality. This is a task for tax experts, he says.

Nevertheless, he has arrived at a conclusion that contrasts with everything that the IMF has previously been associated with. His message is simple: if income gaps are not reduced, the next crisis will happen as surely as autumn follows summer... http://www.eurozine.com/articles/article_2012-03-09-kumhof-en.html

The man who raised a black power salute at the 1968 Olympic Games


You're probably not familiar with the name John Carlos. But you almost certainly know his image. It's 1968 at the Mexico City Olympics and the medals are being hung round the necks of Tommie Smith (USA, gold),Peter Norman (Australia, silver) and Carlos (USA, bronze). As the Star-Spangled Banner begins to play, Smith and Carlos, two black Americans wearing black gloves, raise their fists in the black power salute. It is a symbol of resistance and defiance, seared into 20th-century history, that Carlos feels he was put on Earth to perform.
"In life, there's the beginning and the end," he says. "The beginning don't matter. The end don't matter. All that matters is what you do in between – whether you're prepared to do what it takes to make change. There has to be physical and material sacrifice. When all the dust settles and we're getting ready to play down for the ninth inning, the greatest reward is to know that you did your job when you were here on the planet."
Carlos's beginning was, to say the least, eventful. Raised by two involved, working parents, he learned to hustle with his friends in Harlem and fight his way out of and into trouble. As a teenager, he used to chase Malcolm X down the street after his speeches and fire questions at him. Carlos always knew he was good at sports and originally wanted to be an Olympic swimmer, until his father broke it to him that the training facilities he needed were in private clubs for whites and the wealthy. He used to steal food from freight trains with his friends and then run with it into Harlem and hand it out to the poor. When the police gave chase, he was often the only one who never got caught. Running came so naturally, he never thought of it as a skill.
That single moment on the podium cost Carlos dear. More than four decades later, you'll find him at his desk in a spacious portable building behind the basketball courts at Palm Springs High School in California, where he works as a counsellor. Among the family photographs on the wall are the vaguest allusions to his moment in history. Pictures of Malcolm X and African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston, the pledge of allegiance, which American schoolkids must say to the flag every day, and a small poster saying Go For Gold Olympics...

Friday, March 30, 2012

Another time, another mosque

This article is based on a lecture I prepared for university students, named Mahatma Gandhi’s Legacy. It includes the text of the Delhi Declaration on communal harmony, January 18, 1948. 'Volume' citations are from Gandhi's Collected Works.


Gandhi’s Last Fast: January 13-18, 1948
From September 1947, the communal situation in north India became grievous. Massacres were taking place in Punjab and Sindh, sparking off the migration of over ten million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. In September, hundreds of Muslims of Delhi had been killed in Karol Bagh, Subzi Mandi and Paharganj. Tens of thousands of Hindu and Sikh refugees from Punjab were crammed into Diwan Hall, Chandni Chowk and Kingsway Camp; while thousands of Muslims, including Meos from Alwar and Bharatpur, camped in fear in Jamia Millia, Puran Qila and Humayun’s Tomb. The life of Dr Zakir Husain, VC of Jamia Millia and president of the Hindustani Talimi Sangh, was saved by a Sikh army captain and a Hindu railway official. Upon arrival in Delhi on September 9, Gandhi was asked to stay not in the sweepers colony (his prefered residence in the city), but in Birla House. Gandhi plunged into the turmoil around him, travelling to nearby places, talking to refugees and cadres of social organisations. On December 22, he made this announcement at his prayer meeting:

“Some eight or ten miles from here, at Mehrauli, there is a shrine of Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Chisti. Esteemed as second only to the shrine at Ajmer, it is visited every year not only by Muslims but by thousands of non-Muslims too. Last September this shrine was subjected to the wrath of Hindu mobs. The Muslims living in the vicinity of the shrine for the last 800 years had to leave their  homes. I mention this sad episode to tell you that, though Muslims love the shrine, today no Muslim can be found anywhere near it. It is the duty of the Hindus, Sikhs, the officials and the Government to open the shrine again and wash off this stain on us. The same applies to other shrines and religious places of Muslims in and around Delhi. The time has come when both India and Pakistan must unequivocally declare to the majorities in each country that they will not tolerate desecration of religious places, be they small or big. They should also undertake to repair the places damaged during riots.” (vol 98, p 98-99).

This was the background to his last protest. There was also the matter of the Government’s decision to withhold payment of Pakistan’s share of undivided India’s sterling balance. We may take it that the fast was undertaken both to restore the mosque and to convey to the public his feelings about ongoing events. It began on January 13, 1948 and was announced at his prayer meeting that evening. He said: “Now that I have started my fast many people cannot understand what I am doing, who are the offenders – Hindus or Sikhs or Muslims. How long will the fast last? I say I do not blame anyone. Who am I to accuse others? I have said that we have all sinned.”

He continued: “I shall terminate the fast only when peace has returned to Delhi. If peace is restored to Delhi it will have effect not only on the whole of India but also on Pakistan and when that happens, a Muslim can walk around in the city all by himself. I shall then terminate the fast. Delhi is the capital of India. It has always been the capital of India. So long as things do not return to normal in Delhi, they will not be normal either in India or in Pakistan. Today I cannot bring Suhrawardy here because I fear someone may insult him. Today he cannot walk about in the streets of Delhi. If he did he would be assaulted. What I want is that he should be able to move about here even in the dark. It is true that he made efforts in Calcutta only when Muslims became involved. Still, he could have made the situation worse, if he had wanted, but he did not want to make things worse. He made the Muslims evacuate the places they had forcibly occupied and said that he being the Premier could do so. Although the places occupied by the Muslims belonged to Hindus and Sikhs he did his duty. Even if it takes a whole month to have real peace established in Delhi it does not matter. People should not do anything merely to have me terminate the fast. So my wish is that Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Muslims who are in India should continue to live in India and India should become a country where everyone’s life and property are safe. Only then will India progress.”

The People’s Reaction
Delhi was visibly affected by Gandhi’s fast. Addressing a gathering of three hundred thousand people on January 17, Maulana Azad announced seven tests given him by Gandhi to be fulfilled and guaranteed by responsible people. They included freedom of worship to Muslims at the tomb of Khwaja Bakhtiar Chishti, non-interference with the Urs festival due to be held there; the voluntary evacuation by non-Muslims of all mosques in Delhi that were being used as houses or which had been converted into temples; free movement of Muslims in areas where they used to stay; complete safety to Muslims while travelling by train; no economic boycott of Muslims; and freedom to Muslim evacuees to return to Delhi.” That evening a procession of citizens walked to Birla House where Jawaharlal Nehru addressed them. Gandhi’s speech was read out at the prayer meeting, attended by some four thousand people. Among other things, he said:

“My fast should not be considered a political move in any sense of the term. It is in obedience to the peremptory call of conscience and duty. It comes out of felt agony. I call to witness all my numerous Muslim friends in Delhi. Their representatives meet me almost every day to report the day’s events. Neither Rajas and Maharajas nor Hindus and Sikhs or any others would serve themselves or India as a whole, if at this, what is to me a sacred juncture, they mislead me with a view to terminating my fast” (vol 98:248).

On January 18, Gandhi ended his fast. Over a hundred representatives of various groups and organizations including the Hindu Mahasabha, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Jamiat-ul-Ulema who had assembled at Rajendra Prasad’s residence, called on Gandhiji at 11.30 a.m. Those present included Jawaharlal Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad, Rajendra Prasad, INA General Shah Nawaz Khan, Hifzur Rahman and Zaheed Hussain, Pakistan’s High Commissioner. Dr. Rajendra Prasad reported that even those who had some doubts on the previous night were confident that they could ask Gandhiji with a full sense of responsibility to break the fast. As the President of the Congress, Rajendra Prasad said that he had signed the document in view of the guarantee which they had all jointly and severally given. Khurshid, the Chief Commissioner and Randhawa, Deputy Commissioner of Delhi, had signed the document on behalf of the administration. It had been decided to set up a number of committees to implement the pledge. Rajendra Prasad hoped that Gandhiji would now terminate his fast. Deshbandhu Gupta described scenes of fraternization between Hindus and Muslims which he had witnessed when a procession of Muslims was taken out that morning in Subzimandi and was received with ovation and offered fruit and refreshments by the Hindu inhabitants. A seven-point declaration in Hindi was read out solemnly affirming the people’s desire for communal harmony and civic peace. This read as follows:

SEVEN-POINT DELHI DECLARATION OF JANUARY 18, 1948
“We wish to announce that it is our heart-felt desire that the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs and members of the other communities should once again live in Delhi like brothers and in perfect amity and we take the pledge that we shall protect the life, property and faith of Muslims and that the incidents which have taken place in Delhi will not happen again.

“We want to assure Gandhiji that the annual fair at Khwaja Qutub-ud-Din Mazar will be held this year as in the previous years.

“Muslims will be able to move about in Subzimandi, Karol Bagh, Paharganj and other localities just as they could in the past.

“The mosques which have been left by Muslims and which now are in the possession of Hindus and Sikhs will be returned. The areas which have been set apart for Muslims will not be forcibly occupied.

“We shall not object to the return to Delhi of the Muslims who have migrated from here if they choose to come back and Muslims shall be able to carry on their business as before.

“We assure that all these things will be done by our personal effort and not with the help of the police or military.

“We request Mahatmaji to believe us and to give up his fast and continue to lead us as he has done hitherto.” .” (vol 98, p 249, 253).

Gandhi’s Speech on the Delhi Declaration
In his reply, Gandhi said: “I am happy to hear what you have told me, but if you have overlooked one point all this will be worth nothing. If this declaration means that you will safeguard Delhi and whatever happens outside Delhi will be no concern of yours, you will be committing a grave error and it will be sheer foolishness on my part to break my fast. You must have seen the Press reports of the happenings in Allahabad, if not, look them up. I understand that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Hindu Mahasabha are among the signatories to this declaration. It will amount to breach of faith on their part if they hold themselves responsible for peace in Delhi, but not in other places. I have been observing that this sort of deception is being practised in the country these days on a large scale. Delhi is the heart - the capital of India. The leaders from the whole of India have assembled here. Men had become beasts. But if those who have assembled here, who constitute the cream among men cannot make the whole of India understand that  Hindus, Muslims and followers of other religions are like brothers, it bodes ill for both the Dominions. What will be the fate of India if we continue to quarrel with one another?... Let us take no step that may become a cause for repentance later on. The situation demands courage of the highest order from us. We have to consider whether or not we can accomplish what we are going to promise. If you are not confident of fulfilling your pledge, do not ask me to give up my fast. It is for you and the whole of India to translate it into reality. It may not be possible to realize it in a day. I do not possess the requisite strength for it. But I can assure you that till today our face was turned  towards Satan, we have now resolved to turn towards God. If what I have told you fails to find an echo in your hearts or if you are convinced that it is beyond you, tell me so frankly.

What greater folly can there be than to claim that Hindustan is only for Hindus and Pakistan is for Muslims alone? The refugees here should realize that things in Pakistan will be set right by the example set in Delhi. I am not one to be afraid of fasting. Time and again I have gone on fasts and if occasion arises I may again do so. Whatever therefore you do, do after careful thought and consideration. The Muslim friends frequently meet me and assure me that peaceful atmosphere has been restored in Delhi and Hindus and Muslims can live in amity here. If these friends have any misgivings in their hearts and feel that today they have perforce to stay here - as they have nowhere else to go to - but ultimately they will have to part company, let them admit it to me frankly. To set things right in the whole of India and Pakistan is no doubt a Herculean task. But I am an optimist. Once I resolve to do something I refuse to accept defeat. Today you assure me that Hindus and Muslims have become one but if Hindus continue to regard Muslims as Yavans and asuras, incapable of realizing God, and Muslims regard Hindus likewise, it will be the worst kind of blasphemy. A Muslim friend presented me with a book in Patna. Its author is an eminent Muslim. The book says: “God ordains that a kafir - and a Hindu is a kafir - is worse than a poisonous creature. He should be exterminated. It is one’s duty to be treacherous to him. Why should one treat him with any courtesy?” If Muslims still harbouring such thoughts assure Hindus about their good behaviour, they will only be deceiving Hindus. If you betray one you betray all. If I truly worship a stone image I deceive no one. For me God resides in that stone image. I feel that if the hearts of both Hindus and Muslims are full of deceipt and treachery, why need I  continue to live?

“..After listening to all that I have said, if you still ask me to end my fast I shall end it. Afterwards you have to release me. I had taken the vow to do or die in Delhi and now if I am able to achieve success here I shall go to Pakistan and try to make Muslims understand their folly. Whatever happens in other places, people in Delhi should maintain peace. The refugees here should realize that they have to welcome as brothers the Muslims returning from Pakistan to Delhi. The Muslim refugees in Pakistan are suffering acute hardships and so are the Hindu refugees here. Hindus have not learnt all the crafts of Muslim craftsmen. Therefore they had better return to India. There are good men as well as bad men in all the communities. Taking into consideration all these implications, if you ask me to break my fast I shall abide by your wish. India will virtually become a prison if the present conditions continue. It may be better that you allow me to continue my fast and if God wills it He will call me.” (vol 98, p 254-257)

Maulana Azad said that the remarks about non-Muslims to which Gandhiji had referred were abhorrent to Islam. They were symptoms of the insanity that had seized some sections of the people. Maulana Hifzur Rahman insisted that Muslims wanted to remain in India as citizens with self-respect and honour. He welcomed the changed atmosphere in the city as a result of Gandhi’s fast and appealed to Gandhi to break the fast. On behalf of the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS, Ganesh Datt reiterated the appeal. Pakistan’s High Commisioner Zaheed Hussain addressed a few words to Gandhiji. He said he was there to convey the deep concern of the Pakistani people about him and the anxious inquiries they made every day about his health. It was their hearts’ desire that circumstances might soon enable him to break the fast. If there was anything that he could do towards that end he was ready and so were the people of Pakistan. Zaheed Hussain was followed by Khurshid and Randhawa who on behalf of the administration reiterated the assurance that all the conditions mentioned in the citizens’ pledge would be implemented, and no effort would be spared to restore the Indian capital to its traditional harmony and peace. Sardar Harbans Singh endorsed the appeal on behalf of the Sikhs. When Rajendra Prasad said: “I have signed on behalf of the people, please break your fast,” Gandhi replied: “I shall break my fast. Let God’s will prevail. You all be witness today.”

Twelve days later, on January 30, 1948, Gandhi was murdered at his daily prayer meeting.
Read the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the conspiracy:

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The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi are available online, at this link:

Read about the alterations made by the NDA government in Gandhi's collected works. Hundreds of whimsical deletions and changes were noticed by well-known scholars & Gandhians in India and around the world, who viewed them as an insult to scholarship, and demanded an end to such attempts to play with historical documents. Here's the history of the controversyTridip Suhrud, now director of Sabarmati Ashram, wrote a detailed analysis of this shameless behaviour in EPW in November 2004. It was only after the defeat of the NDA government that the fraudulently 'revised' edition of the CWMG was withdrawn, in 2005.

The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi: Inquiry Commission Report (1969)

There are still people who admire Godse for shooting a defenceless, unarmed old man at point blank range in a prayer meeting.. But after all, modern society is awash with extremist belief of all kinds, including support for suicide bombers and Maoist revolutionaries. In the guise of communal ideology & prejudices, extremism has taken  centre-stage. People in high office believe in collective guilt (denouncing entire communities for the sins of a few), controlled mobs, revenge killing and vigilantism. Click the title for Parts 1 & 2 of the Report [of the 6 volume document] of the Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi by Justice Jeevan Lal Kapur [Supreme Court of India]. The commission was established in 1965 & submitted its report on 30 Sept 1969.
The advent of the Modi-led BJP government has emboldened the ideologues of religion-based nationalism. They apparently feel that the whole country is now ready to celebrate Gandhi's assassination. Several members of the so-called 'Sangh Parivar' have been making statements of this nature, filled with lies, hatred and propaganda. These utterances are an open avowal of political murder by the political allies of the Government of IndiaThey undermine the ethic of lawful government and they corrode the authority and legitimacy of the Indian Union. Those who have been trained in communal half-truths and deceit for decades will not be able to recognise the danger of this new-found bravado of the Godse-brigade. We may only hope that judges, IAS & IPS officers and responsible citizens and opinion makers have the capacity to understand how the Parivar is undermining the integrity of the state... See: The Abolition of truth सत्य की हत्या

The influence of communal hatred extends beyond communal organisations. In 1969 (Gandhi's birth centenary) a Hindi literateur with extreme-left leanings, wrote 'Gandhi benakaab', a pamphlet in which he hailed Godse as a 'true son of India'. It should not surprise us that extremists from left to right coalesce in their hatred for Gandhi (see my article, The Other side of Maoism).  Those interested in the continued currency - despite all their deceitful denials - of the Sangh Parivar's hatred of Gandhi may see the web-page: "HinduUnity' below, where Nathuram Godse is referred to as 'our beloved'; along with VD Savarkar's slogan "Hinduize politics and militarize Hindus!"
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://hinduunity.org/

(NB - The above page was removed from circulation, presumably because the 'parivar' now wishes to convey a 'moderate' image of itself. I then found this link as an example of the pride they take in the deed: http://www.nathuram.com/gopal-godse-interview/
This too has been removed. For all we know they will remove the following link as well:
http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2055031,00.html

Sakshi Maharaj reveals the BJP's long standing tie to Nathuram Godse
Also note the Savarkarite propaganda employed by Narendra Modi during the 2014 election campaign: Modi says Congress committed 'sin' of partition // The Non-politics of the RSS

Justice Jeevan Lal Kapur's report on Mahatma Gandhi's assassination was published by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1970. It is a document that has been forgotten in contemporary India. Read below a short background. 'Volume' citations are from Gandhi's Collected Works.

Gandhi had arrived in Delhi from Calcutta in September 1947. He planned to walk to Pakistan, leading Hindu and Sikh refugees back to the homes whence they had fled, and return with Indian Muslims who had left their homes out of fear. He postponed this plan upon realizing the extent of communal violence and hatred in Delhi and its environs. Between January 13 and 18 he undertook a fast – his last, as it turned out – to obtain the return of a shrine to its proper owners. Here's what he said about it on December 22 1947:

“Some eight or ten miles from here, at Mehrauli, there is a shrine of Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Chisti. Esteemed as second only to the shrine at Ajmer, it is visited every year not only by Muslims but by thousands of non-Muslims too. Last September this shrine was subjected to the wrath of Hindu mobs. The Muslims living in the vicinity of the shrine for the last 800 years had to leave their  homes. I mention this sad episode to tell you that, though Muslims love the shrine, today no Muslim can be found anywhere near it. It is the duty of the Hindus, Sikhs, the officials and the Government to open the shrine again and wash off this stain on us. The same applies to other shrines and religious places of Muslims in and around Delhi. The time has come when both India and Pakistan must unequivocally declare to the majorities in each country that they will not tolerate desecration of religious places, be they small or big. They should also undertake to repair the places damaged during riots.” (Collected Works vol 98, p 98-99).

The Delhi fast was immensely successful and an agreement emerged for the maintenance of communal harmony. (The story is told elsewhere: see Another time, another mosque). But on January 20, a bomb exploded 75 feet away from the dais at Gandhi’s prayer meeting at Birla House, New Delhi. One Madanlal Pahwa was arrested. Six other men escaped in a taxi. This was the fifth attempt on his life since 1934, and all of them were made by extreme Hindu nationalists.  Gandhi was unruffled. Upon being asked to agree to additional policemen for his meetings, he refused, saying that his life was in the hands of God, that if he had to die, no precautions could save him. He would not agree to restricted entry to his prayer meetings or to anybody coming between his audience and himself. At the next day’s meeting Gandhi said that “the man who exploded the bomb obviously thinks that he has been sent by God to destroy me… He had taken it for granted that I am an enemy of Hinduism. When he says he was doing the bidding of God he is only making God an accomplice in a wicked deed. But it cannot be so… those who are behind him or whose tool he is, should know that this sort of thing will not save Hinduism. If Hinduism has to be saved it will be saved through such work as I am doing. I have been imbibing Hindu dharma right from my childhood” (CW vol 98: 279-81). On January 30, soon after he arrived at his prayer meeting, Nathuram Godse, editor of a Poona-based Marathi journal called Hindu Rashtra, fired three bullets at him at point-blank range and killed him.

On February 4, the Government of India declared the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh unlawful, noting that its members had “indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity and murder.. carried on under a cloak of secrecy.” It accused the Sangh of “exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods.” The communique – that must have been vetted by Home Minister Sardar Patel - went on: “the cult of violence sponsored & inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The and most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself”. (D.R. 
Goyal 1979; Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, p.202)

The trial of eight conspirators including V.D. Savarkar took place through 1948. Godse made a speech stating his belief in in Savarkar’s ideal of Hindu nationalism, and his conviction that Gandhi was “a political and ethical imposter…a traitor to his faith and his country, a curse to India, a force for evil.., and the greatest enemy not only of Hindus, but of the whole nation.” Parts of the speech suggest that Godse saw himself as an agency of Lord Krishna. Godse and Narayan Apte were sentenced to death in February 1949 and hanged in November. They went to the gallows shouting Akhand Bharat amar rahe, (Long Live United India) not realizing that a united India was also Gandhi’s dearest ideal. Unlike them, however, he did not believe that united India could be a Hindu Rashtra - an Indian version of Hitlers Reich. Five conspirators were sentenced to life imprisonment, which in India those days meant fourteen years. Savarkar was acquitted for lack of evidence.

However, doubts remained about the extent of the conspiracy; the behaviour of the
Bombay and Delhi police between January 20 and 30; and the evidence of V.D. Savarkar’s involvement. In 1965, the Government of India set up a Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi, headed by Justice Jivanlal Kapur of the Supreme Court. It examined evidence not produced during the trial, including the testimony of Savarkar's bodyguard Appa Ramachandra Kasar, and his secretary Gajanan Vishnu Damle. Had they testified in 1948, Savarkar would have been convicted. The evidence confirmed Godse and Apte's visits to Savarkar on January 14 and 17, 1948. Kasar told the Commission that they visited Savarkar again on or about January 23, upon their return from Delhi after the bomb incident. Damle stated that Godse and Apte saw Savarkar “in the middle of January and sat with him in his garden.” Justice Kapur's findings were clear. He noted the deadly negligence of the police. And he concluded that the facts taken together undermined “any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group.

Gandhi died standing up, with God’s name on his lips, just as he had wanted to. He had always said that he was prepared to die for his beliefs. His death could have been prevented. Who can say what would have happened if he had been allowed to perform his padyatra to
Pakistan? But it was not to be. “In the eyes of too many officials, he was an old man who had outlived his usefulness: he had become expendable. By negligence, by indifference, by deliberate desire on the part of many faceless people, the assassination had been accomplished. It was a new kind of murder – the permissive assassination, and there may be many more in the future” (Robert Payne, The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi; 647). In February 2003, the Indian Union’s highest officials unveiled a portrait of V.D. Savarkar in the Central Hall of Parliament. Knowingly or otherwise our leaders and representatives have hailed and honoured the man who was a prime accused in the Gandhi murder case. They continue to do so till this day. When we realise that independent India's criminal justice system was inaugurated by a denial of justice to Gandhi, we need not be surprised at its steady deterioration ever since. 
For more Gandhi related posts click here

RSS Declared Unlawful: GOI communique of February 4, 1948
In their resolution of February 4, 1948, the Government of India declared their determination to root out the forces of hatred and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation and darken her fair name. in pursuance of this policy the Government of India have decided to declare unlawful the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the Chief Commissioner’s provinces. Similar action is also being taken in the Governor’s provinces. As democratic governments the Government of India and the provincial governments have always been anxious to allow reasonable scope for genuine political, social and economic activities to all parties and organisations including those whose policies and purposes differ from, or even run counter to their own, subject to the consideration that such activities should not transgress certain commonly recognised limits of propriety and law.

The professed aims and objects of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are to promte the physical, intellectual and moral well-being of the Hindus and also to foster feelings of brotherhood, love and service amongst them. Government themselves are most anxious to improve the general material and intellectual well-being of all sections of the people and have got schemes on hand which are designed to carry out these objects, particularly the provision of physical training and education in military matters to the youth of the country. Government have, however, noticed with regret that in practice members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have not adhered to their professed ideals. 

Undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried out by members of the Sangh. It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity, and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunitions. They have been found circulating leaflets exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and and suborn the police and military. These activities have been carried out under the cloak of secrecy, and the government have considered from time to time how far these activities rendered it incumbent upon them to deal with the Sangh in its corporate capacity.

The last occasion when the government defined this attitude was when the Premiers and Home Ministers of provinces met in Delhi towards the end of November.  It was then unanimously agreed that the stage when the Sangh should be dealt with as an association had not yet arrived and that individuals should contiinue to be dealt with sternly as hitherto. The objectionable and harmful activities of the Sangh have, however, continued unabated and the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The latest and most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself... In these circumstances it is the bounden duty of the government to take effective measures to curb this re-appearance of violence in a virulent form and as a first step to this end, they have decided to declare the Sangh as an unlawful association. Government have no doubt that in taking this measure they have the support of all law-abiding citizens, of all those who have the welfare of the country at heart. (Source: Des Raj Goyal: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Delhi, 1979; 201-202)
AICC Resolution on Private Armies; dtd November 16, 1947 - “The All India Congress Committee has noted with regret that there is a growing desire on the part of some organizations to build up private armies. Any such development is dangerous for the safety of the State and for the growth of corporate life in the nation. The State alone should have its defence forces or police or home guards. The activities of the Muslim National Guards, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Akali Volunteers and such other organizations represent an endeavour to bring into being private armies, (and) must be regarded as a menace to the hard-won freedom of the country.. (Source: Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, online; vol 97, p 480).
The Savarkarist syntax - by Anil Nauriya: UNDERLYING THE glorification of Savarkarism by the BJP-RSS-Shiv Sena are changes in the nature and objectives of the major political parties, the cynicism induced by the growing nexus between crime and politics, and the collapse of a compact that had facilitated post-independence politics. The first principle of Savarkarism defines the nation on the basis of religious community. This is reflected in Savarkar's declaration on August 15, 1943: "I have no quarrel with Mr. Jinnah's two-nation theory. We Hindus are a nation by ourselves and it is a historical fact that Hindus and Muslims are two nations" (Indian Annual Register1943 vol2 p 10). The second Savarkarist principle condones killing to make religious community-related points. The German versus Jew analogy is made in Savarkar's writings when speaking of his notion of the Hindu nation and those outside it. The killer aspect of Savarkarism is noted by Sardar Patel. In his February 27, 1948 letter to Nehru, Patel held the fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha under Savarkar responsible for assassinating Gandhi. The same trigger-happiness was evident in the Gujarat carnage (2002) and its aftermath. Whether a murder may be treated as a crime seems to depend, for Savarkarism, upon the self-perceived religious community interests of the killer...  http://hindu.com/2004/09/18/stories/2004091803791000.htm
(NB - This article also has details of the manner in which Savarkar was acquitted)
THE DELHI DECLARATION OF JANUARY 18, 1948
On January 18, Gandhi ended his final fast. Over a hundred representatives of various groups and organizations including the Hindu Mahasabha, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Jamiat-ul-Ulema who had assembled at Rajendra Prasad’s residence, called on Gandhiji at 11.30 a.m. Those present included Jawaharlal Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad, Rajendra Prasad, INA General Shah Nawaz Khan, Hifzur Rahman and Zaheed HussainPakistan’s High Commissioner. Dr. Rajendra Prasad reported that even those who had some doubts on the previous night were confident that they could ask Gandhiji with a full sense of responsibility to break the fast. . 

As President of the Congress, Rajendra Prasad said that he had signed the document in view of the guarantee which they had all jointly and severally given. Khurshid, the Chief Commissioner and Randhawa, Deputy Commissioner of Delhi, had signed the document on behalf of the administration. It had been decided to set up a number of committees to implement the pledge. Rajendra Prasad hoped that Gandhiji would now terminate his fast. Deshbandhu Gupta described scenes of fraternization between Hindus and Muslims which he had witnessed when a procession of Muslims was taken out that morning in Subzimandi and was received with ovation and offered fruit and refreshments by the Hindu inhabitants. A seven-point declaration in Hindi was read out solemnly affirming the people’s desire for communal harmony and civic peace. 

This read as followsDELHI DECLARATION OF JANUARY 18, 1948


Extracts from two CPI pamphlets issued in September/October 1947:
Bleeding Punjab Warns by PC Joshi and Dhanwantri
“What happened in the Punjab cannot be called a riot. It was a regular war of extermination of the minorities, of the Sikhs and Hindus in Western Punjab and of Muslims in East Punjab. It cannot be compared to Calcutta or Noakhali, Bihar, or even to Rawalpindi for in all these cases it was mobs of one community that took leading part in killing, looting and burning the minority in the area, their communal passions being roused to a pitch of frenzy and savagery.. In the Punjab, however, in the recent biggest killing ever seen, it was the trained bands equipped with firearms and modern weapons that were the main killers, looters and rapers. These were the storm troops of various communal parties such as National Guards of the Muslim League in the Western Punjab, and the Shahidi Dal of the Akalis and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh of the Mahasabha in the Eastern Punjab. They were actively aided and often actually led by the police and the military in committing the worst atrocities.. in violence and in brutality, in the numbers killed (which Syt Shri Prakasha, India’s Ambassador to Pakistan places at 1 ½ lakhs) in the use of plenty of modern deadly weapons, in the devastation spread over 14 districts of the Punjab and in the way in which the police, the military and the entire administration was geared not to stop the riots but to spread it – the Punjab tragedy is without parallel.. p 5-6 of a printed CPI report ‘Bleeding Punjab Warns’ by PC Joshi and Dhanwantri - September 1947. (Comrade Dhanwantri was a comrade of Bhagat Singh; President of the Lahore Distt Congress Committee and communist leader of Punjab)

************
The Swayam Sevaks
Protagonists of the Sangh believe that accusations directed at the RSS are political, and therefore dubious. That may be true, but so too are its protestations of innocence. As regards Sardar Patels observations in February 1948 on the RSS"As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the case relating to Gandhiji’s murder is sub judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organisations, but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in this conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of Government and the State. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure."
http://www.sabrang.com/cc/archive/2004/aug04/cover3.html

There were intelligence reports about the Sangh’s plans for terror. The AICC resolution of November 16, 1947 referred to the RSS, the Muslim National Guard and the Akali Volunteers as “private armies”, a menace to India’s freedom. As we have seen, the Government's ban on the RSS on February 4, 1948, clearly stated:"The objectionable and harmful activities of the Sangh have, however, continued unabated and the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victimsThe latest and the most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself”.

There is evidence that the surface facts concealed many things. Ramachandra Guha, citing data from police archives, writes: http://www.outlookindia.com/article/They-Too-Wrote-Our-History/228341
The RSS, on the other hand, wanted to complete the process of ethnic cleansing. So said a sub-inspector of the Delhi Police named Bhagwan Das Jain. A mole inside the RSS, Jain reported on October 24 that the Sangh saw in the unsettled conditions the chance to take a bold step towards the establishment of Hindu rule in India. As he wrote, "according to the Sangh volunteers, the Muslims would quit India only when another movement for their total extermination similar to the one which was started in Delhi sometime back would take place". The RSS men, he continued, "were waiting for the departure of Mahatma Gandhi from Delhi as they believed that so long as the Mahatma is in Delhi, they would not be able to precipitate their designs into action".

By early November, Golwalkar himself was camped in Delhi, planning for future action. In a speech in Ramjas College, he noted with satisfaction that the RSS membership had increased by 2,500 in a single month. He told his audience to be prepared for the fight ahead. On December 6, Golwalkar convened a meeting of RSS workers in Govardhan, near Delhi. The police report on this meeting remarks that "the (RSS) workers are alleged to have discussed the ways and means of capturing the seats in the government... It is also alleged that one of its (the RSS's) programme(s) would be to assassinate the leading persons of the Congress...to terrorise the public and to get their hold over them
"


Here is an extract from the same archive: It is a CID report dated 27 Dec 1947 of a secret meeting of RSS members in Delhi on December 8, 1947, addressed by “guruji’ Golwalkar, who is quoted by a 'source' as saying: "The Sangh will not rest until it had finished Pakistan. If anyone stood in our way we will have to finish him too, whether it was Nehru government or any other government. The Sangh could not be won over. They should carry on their work. Referring to Muslims he said that no power on earth could keep them in Hindusthan. They shall have to quit this country. Mahatma Gandhi wanted to keep the Muslims in India so that the Congress (may) profit by their votes at the time of election. But, by that time, no a single muslim will be left in India. If they were made to stay here, the responsibility would be Government’s, and the Hindu community would not be responsible. Mahatma Gandhi could not mislead them any longer. We have the means whereby such men can be immediately silenced, but it is our tradition not to be inimical to Hindus. If we are compelled, we will have to resort to that course also."

In his February 27, 1948 letter to Nehru on Gandhi's assassination, (vol 6 of Selected Correspondence of Sardar Patel; edited by Durga Das) Patel held that "it was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that hatched the conspiracy and saw it through" (p 56)

In the same letter, reflecting on the problem of identifying RSS members, he wrote "in the case of secret organisation like the RSS which has no records of membership, no registers etc., securing of authentic information whether a person is an active member or not is a very difficult task.." (p 57)

As to whether Nathuram Godse was in the RSS or not, who is the best person to disclose that historical fact? His brother Gopal Godse, who was also involved in the conspiracy to murder Mahatma Gandhi and who clearly revealed that all the brothers (Godse brothers) were in theRSS – Nathuram Godse, Dattatreya, Gopal Godse and Govind did not leave the RSS. A reference is to be made to an article titled "Godse–RSS link reflected Cowardice" (Frontline, January 28, 1994). http://www.frontline.in/books/the-bjp-and-nathuram-godse/article4328688.ece


The whole truth emerged 46 years later, in December 1993, with the publication of the book,Why I assassinated Mahatma Gandhi by the brother of Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram. Gopal Godse, speaking in New Delhi on the occasion of the release said that he and his brother had been active members of the RSS. Godse also said: "All the brothers were in the RSS. Nathuram, Dattatreya, myself and Govind. You can say we grew up in the RSS rather than in our home. It was like a family to us… Nathuram had become abaudhik karyavah (intellectual worker) in the RSS."

When Godse was asked about Advani’s claim that Nathuram had nothing to do with the RSS, Godse replied: "I have countered him, saying it is cowardice to say that. You can say that RSS did not pass a resolution, saying that, ‘go and assassinate Gandhi.’ But you do not disown him (Nathuram). The Hindu Mahasabha did not disown him. In 1944 Nathuram started doing Hindu Mahasabha work when he had been a baudhik karyavah in the RSS."



Savarkar and Golwalkar shared a number of platforms. Photographs are available showing both of them sharing platforms in Pune in 1952. For more details on the RSS, Hindu Mahasabha and the national movement, see: http://www.sabrang.com/cc/archive/2004/aug04/cover.html
Interviews + transcripts
Godse's RSS connections
backgrounder on RSS

As for their attitude towards historical truth, here are details regarding the Parivars attempt to censor Gandhi's works: Report of the first NDA government's (1998) brazen attempt to 'revise' Gandhi's Collected Works. Hundreds of whimsical deletions and changes were noticed by scholars and Gandhians in India and around the world, who viewed these changes as an insult to scholarship, and demanded an end to such attempts to play with historical documents. Read the history of the controversy. Tridip Suhrud, now director of Sabarmati Ashram, wrote a detailed analysis of this shameless behaviour in EPW in November 2004. It was only after the defeat of the NDA government that the fraudulently 'revised' edition of the CWMG was withdrawn, in 2005.

ALSO SEE:
The Broken Middle (on the 30th anniversary of 1984)