What the Hell is Going On in India?MEREDITH BENNETT-SMITH
A clothing shop owner in India is pleading innocence this week after his store, called "Hitler," outraged residents and drew strong criticism from the area's Jewish community in Vastrapur.
The storefront bears the name Hitler, in large letters, with a swastika dotting the 'i' in "Hitler."
The outlet, which opened 10 days ago in the western state of Gujarat - [currently ruled by mass-murderer and chief minister, Narendra Modi] - sells Western men's wear.
[Gujarat is a state which boasts a recent history of a string of massacres of thousands of innocent minority citizens by politician-led mobs. Narendra Modi, using his power and influence, has deftly evaded being held accountable, and is now being touted as a candidate for the job of Prime Minister of India by extremist Hindu groups.]
Proprietor Rajesh Shah claimed he had no idea the moniker would be controversial. "Hitler was a nickname given to my business partner Manish Chandani's grandfather because of his strict nature," Shah said. "Frankly, till the time we applied for the trademark permission, I had only heard that Hitler was a strict man."
Shah claimed he only found out the truth recently, after Googling the dictator's name.
Many in the community are not buying Shah's story, however. A Jewish shopper said, "The proprietors knew what the name meant and what Hitler stood for. They had researched well, right from the dress the dictator wore to his cufflinks. We had suggested a separate design, but the proprietors claimed that the name brings good business since its launch a week back."
No explanation was offered as to how the notorious swastika had found its way to be displayed strategically on the store-sign, atop the word "Hitler".
A small group from a nearby synagogue also visited the shop in an attempt to convince the owner to change the name. Menasseh Solomon, secretary of the Magen Abraham Synagogue, said the meeting was "friendly," but not necessarily fruitful.
"He (Rajesh) said his concept was never to hurt the community, and he feigned ignorance about Hitler... But after we left, we began to believe that he may have been aware about all this and was just pretending to be ignorant,” he added.
The Jewish population in India is small, but the Israeli delegation is taking the issue seriously, with Mumbai Consul General Orna Sagiv saying that the embassy would be looking to address the matter "in the strongest possible way."
Shah, who claims he spent 150,000 rupees ($2,700), on Hitler-themed advertising, said he would consider changing the name only if he is compensated for the money spent.
India has an interesting and complicated cultural relationship with the Hitler legacy. The Nazi Swastika symbol takes inspiration from a Hindu symbol which openly ties itself to Aryanism. But this does not necessarily explain why, for example, Hitler's anti-Semitic manifesto "Mein Kampf" remains a bestseller in India. Business students in particular are "happy to cite it as an inspiration," according to the paper, regarding it as model of management strategy and self-improvement.
[Courtesy: Huffington Post. Edited for sikhchic.com]
August 30, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Dr. Birinder Singh Ahluwalia (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), August 30, 2012, 11:49 AM.
I am told by someone in the know that this is a method of shake-down used against minorities in India, in this case against the Jewish community. This is how it works: The owner in this case, Rajesh Shah, has already demanded Rs. 150,000 to "consider" changing the name of the store. If the Jewish community takes the judicial route or complains to the politicians or bureaucracy to bear upon the store owner, then they will have to pay bribes to several levels of the entire establishment and still no guarantees that the community will be successful in its endeavours to get justice. If the Jewish community pays the money demanded by the store-owner, then many more store-names like this will crop up to make money from the Jewish community and, at the same time, garner free world-wide publicity. I do hope and pray that this is not true ... that somehow, someone somewhere will be able to drive some good sense into the heads of Rajesh Shah and his fellow "entrepreneurs". But then, we're talking about India, aren't we?
2: Brajesh Gupta (Kanpur, India), August 30, 2012, 1:47 PM.
The states of Gujarat and Maharashtra have perfected Goonda Raj - Criminal Rule - which we now have in effect everywhere in India. If anyone thinks even for a moment that we have a functioning democracy, you should check out your tea leaves! The top echelons of the government are in on this. It's a free for all. And the reason why we have all the mass anti-corruption movements (Anna Hazare, Ramdev, et al) you read about in the media, is because they feel left out and want a share of the game on a national scale. THIS is the kaljug we had been promised!
3: Sandeep Singh Brar (Canada), August 30, 2012, 2:14 PM.
I'm not sure I understand why the onus should be on the Jewish Community to object to this. Hitler and everything he represented was an outrage and an obscenity to everything that humanity represents. If that joker tried to open such a store in any country in the west, everyone of every religion would be protesting ... and would have promptly driven him out of town. Mass murderer and a complete incompetent as a leader, military or political, Hitler destroyed the German economy. Mr Narendra Modi and those of your ilk: if you want to emulate failure, Hitler is your man. I'll leave you with this great quote from "Mein Kampf" in which Hitler discusses India's freedom struggle: "I as a German would far rather see India under British domination than under that of any other nation."
4: Gurmeet Kaur (Atlanta, Georgia, USA), August 30, 2012, 2:22 PM.
What do you mean, "What the Hell is Going On in India?" Don't you know they have their capital city's airport named after Hitler's little sister?
5: Prakash Sinha (Ranchi, India), August 30, 2012, 3:51 PM.
BBC reports: "Hitler memorabilia has become a growing business in India, attracting particularly younger Indians. Many reportedly admire Hitler's discipline. Prayag Thakkar, a 19-year-old student in Gujarat state, says: 'I have idolized Hitler ever since I have had a sense of history. I admire his leadership qualities and his discipline.'" We've now deteriorated to the point of having turned into a nation of idiots, I'm afraid. Sorry!
6: N. Singh (Canada), August 30, 2012, 4:25 PM.
I do hope our Jewish brothers in Isreal are taking note. They might want to re-think aligning themselves with the Indians. I am surprised their intelligence agencies have failed to pick up on this trend, or is it safe to say that having a 7% economic growth rate trumps all moral and ethic considerations?
7: Jaspreet (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), October 06, 2012, 6:04 PM.
In spite of the Hindu right-wing fascination for Hitler, India has a really high percentage of people approving of Israel. It is close to the American scene, if not actually a bit higher. Israel, it appears, is willing to overlook this fetish for Hitler among Indians due to this massive support, though some Jews have engaged in trying to prevent this sort of public affection for Hitler in India before. I believe the support for Israel stems from a general Hindu hatred for Muslims. At the same time, I understand Hitler is praised in school textbooks in states ruled by Hindu extremists.