Saturday, June 17, 2006

Congress and its sources of inspiration: an investigation into the origins of a popular slogan

The Indian National Congress has always been enamoured with the cult of the Gandhis. At its sycophantic best, a popular party slogan in the 197Os declared 'India is Indira, and Indira is India'. Indira was of course the Prime Minister of India for most of that decade, and de facto supremo of the Congress Party.

Credit is generally given for this linguistic manipulation to Mr DK Barooah, the Congress president of the time. But Amar Akbar Anthony have the pleasure of revealing to you the true source of Mr Barooah's inspired and catchy phrase, exposing both the act of his plagiarism and his source for it.

We turn back the clock to another nation and another decade, where also the cult of the leader ruled supreme. In 1934, a high-ranking European politician made a speech in praise of his country's beloved leader. In his speech, he declared:

Adolf Hitler is Germany and Germany is Adolf Hitler. He who takes an oath to Hitler takes an oath to Germany!

Deputy-Fuhrer Rudolf Hess and his colleagues from the German National Socialist or Nazi Party, were in fact so pleased with this eloquence, that they made the phrase one of the regular slogans of the Nazi party and its followers. Rudolf Hess would use the "Adolf Hitler is Germany and Germany is Adolf Hitler" formula often at the beginning of his speeches, and indeed he is seen doing so in the 1935 propoganda documentary, Triumph of the Will.

ps: Have a look at the Congress website. The only Congress Leaders mentioned are Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi. Some things don't change: India is no longer Indira, but the Gandhis continue to mean Congress, and Congress continues to mean the Gandhis.