Propaganda by Nazis and the BJP-RSS Regime
The Nazis and the BJP-RSS regime both understood the power of propaganda, although Hitler and Goebbels did not have access to social media. An RSS official, briefing the media, claimed that they operate 10,000 weekly social media cell meetings.
The Nazi Propaganda Ministry
After the Nazi’s electoral victories of July 1932, Hitler appointed Joseph Goebbels as director of the new Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Goebbels envisioned an empire that would control schools, universities, film, radio, newspapers or, in essence, all public outreach media.
Hitler’s chief architect, Albert Speer, stated at the Nuremberg Tribunal that “what distinguished the Third Reich from all previous dictatorships was its use of all means of communication to sustain itself and to deprive its objects of the power of independent thought.” Hitler was a magician of illusion. The cultural historian Piers Brendon has described propaganda as the “gospel” of Nazism.
“Propaganda is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert”
The Nazis used public displays, humiliation, radio, newspapers, public addresses, and teachers to propagate their disdain for Jews and to persuade public opinion. Films became a tool to propagate Nazism. Some films, like Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) glorified Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Other films like Der ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) were not designed to glorify the Nazis but rather to dehumanize, criminalize, and demonize vulnerable minorities, particularly Jews.
Jews were portrayed as the eternal enemy of Germany, and as feeding off the hard work of “true” Germans. Jews were also shown as conspiring with the allied powers against Germany. At the same time, Germans were portrayed as superior and with the means of providing for a secure Germany. As they moved into France, the same messaging was directed towards the French.
India’s BJP Information Technology cell, Media Control & Bollywood
The BJP-RSS regime operates its propaganda machine differently than the Nazi ministry. It has been so successful that Reporters Without Borders now rates India below Somalia and Colombia, ranking 150th of 180 nations. There is an official information technology cell that is directly run by the BJP. The government applies preferential treatment to ensure the Hindutva ideology is propagated and prevails, while opposition voices are drowned.
The BJP-RSS regime also control media owned by high caste Hindu allies and editors. They oversee platforms that are manipulated by the BJP’s information technology cell and RSS social media cells.
Before any Hindutva policy announcement, this focused propaganda machinery is ready with emotionally charged prime-time shows, hashtags, memes, & fake social media accounts. Using WhatsApp forwarding the regime bombards citizens with messages in support of Hindutva policies.
Researchers have documented that the ruling BJP-RSS regime uses social media such as Facebook and WhatsApp to run complex propaganda campaigns that amplify existing attacks against Muslims. In a report titled “Communal Conflict in India,” the Wall Street Journal stated that Facebook inflammatory content was up 300% above previous levels in the months after December 2019, when there were protests regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act. The inflammatory content was primarily targeted at Muslims.
Indian Government Creates Fake News: The Wall Street Journal also referred to another report called “Adversarial Harmful Networks: India Case Study” that found that misleading and inflammatory anti-Muslim content posted by individuals, groups or pages related to the RSS are “never flagged” because Facebook does not have the systems to detect content in Hindi and Bengali.67 This means that anti-Muslim content continues to go unchecked.
“Real or Fake, We Can Make Any Message Go Viral”
Amit Shah, Indian Home Minister, & RSS member
In addition to this organized propaganda machinery, journalists are often threatened or detained under draconian laws. Sixty-seven journalists were arrested by the BJP government while nearly 200 were physically attacked by the BJP in 2020.
India is the World Leader in Shutting Down the Internet: India has become the world’s leader in shutting down the internet to block dissident voices. It blacked out the internet at least 106 times in 2021. This is the fourth year in a row that India was worse than any country in the world. It was worse than Burma which shut down the internet at least 15 times and Iran which shut down the internet at least five times. India even forced Twitter to put agents on payroll.
The twin strategy of threatening journalists and using their own IT Cell is responsible for Freedom House downgrading India from free to partially free noting its “…crackdown on expressions of dissent by the media, academics, civil society groups, and protesters.”
“India Bans BBC Documentary Critical of Modi then Raids BBC Offices”
India used emergency laws in January 2023 to block social media content related to the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question” which documented that Modi was directly responsible for the 2002 pogrom of Muslims in Gujarat when he was the chief minister there. Then, on February 14, 50 Indian officers raided the BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai, seizing its journalists’ phones, and searching its offices in an apparent retaliatory move.
Depicting Muslims as Enemies in Indian Movies: The popular and influential Hindi film industry (nicknamed ‘Bollywood’) is increasingly being utilized as a tool to further the Hindutva narrative and depict historical events as anti-Hindu. The movies portray Muslims in a negative light to marginalize them as lesser members of Indian society. Even matters that have proven to be disinformation are readily carried by Bollywood movies. This has accelerated considerably in recent years since Modi has been in power.
A series of films are used to depict Muslim rulers as savage, lustful and treacherous invaders who fought Hindu rulers. This serves to polarize the majority Hindu community against Muslims. These type of movies include Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati (2018), Bajirao Mastani (2015), Panipat: The Great Betrayal (2019), Manikarnika: the Queen of Jhansi (2019), and Tanhaji: The Unsung Hero (2020).
Muslims are also portrayed as underworld gangsters, smugglers, and terrorists in Bollywood movies. Negative stereotyping of Muslims has the obvious effect of creating fear and hatred of Muslims, and is the strategy used by the Hindutva movie-makers to mobilize Hindus against Muslims. Such vilification has been the primary theme in jingoistic flicks that prey on hyper-nationalistic fervor in a communally polarized country.
The 2021 blockbuster movie Sooryavanshi, starring Canadian Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, follows the narrative that Indian Muslims cannot be trusted. Muslims are depicted as being anti-national and preying on good Indians. The film stokes the polarizing “love jihad” conspiracy, which paints Muslim men as colluding to seduce or kidnap Hindu girls and convert them to Islam
A 2022 film based on the exodus of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits in the 1990s creates the binary of the “Hindu Victim” and “Muslim Perpetrator” and ignores the thousands of Muslims and Sikhs who also suffered during the Kashmir militancy. While the story of the Kashmir Pandits’ migration from the Valley needs to be told, filmmakers must acknowledge an ethical obligation of fairness to all sides in retelling such historical traumas. The real intent of the film makers—who are known to be staunch supporters of the BJP-RSS regime—was to portray exaggerated victimization and villainization with graphic communal violence. The Kashmir Files won accolades from BJP leaders, including PM Modi. The movie was provided tax rebates. In some BJP ruled states government officials were given paid time off to watch the movie. There were even free screenings for police officials. The effectiveness of such dangerous propaganda can be observed in the various post-movie reactions of the viewing audience. There are shocking videos available on social media that showed audiences in movie theaters chanting genocidal slogans after watching the film.
Reporters Without Borders in 2022 Rated India Below Somalia and Colombia, Ranking it 150th of 180 Nations in Terms of Media Freedom
Attacks on journalists in India are a major technique of the BJP-RSS regime to silence its opposition. This is the image of a Washington Post tweet which carried image of a full-page advertisement at Washington Post in support of Rana Ayyub, a journalist, critical of Modi, the BJP-RSS and Hindutva. A report published by the New York-based International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ), titled “Rana Ayyub: Targeted online violence at the intersection of misogyny and Islamophobia” analyzed nearly 13 million tweets that targeted Rana between December 2019 and March 2022. The report found a dense, inter-connected network targeting Rana Ayyub every 14 seconds.
 Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment, Holocaust Encyclopedia; https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/ ministry-of-propaganda-and-public-enlightenment (accessed 2021-10-21)
 How Nazi propaganda encouraged the masses to co-produce a false reality; https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/03/how-nazi-propaganda-encouraged-the-masses-to-co-produce-a-false-reality.html (accessed 2021-10-21)
 State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; https://www.ushmm.org/information/exhibitions/traveling-exhibitions/state-of-deception (accessed 2021-10-21)
 Propaganda at the Movies; https://www.facinghistory.org/holocaust-and-human-behavior/chapter-6/propaganda-movies (accessed 2021-12-11)
 Why the Modi government gets away with lies, and how the opposition could change that; https://theprint.in/opinion/why-modigovernment-gets-away-with-lies/422211/ (accessed 2021-10-21)
 Real or fake, we can make any message go viral; https://thewire.in/politics/amit-shah-bjp-fake-social-media-messages (accessed 2022-02-04)
 Facebook failed to moderate content in developing countries; https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/10/24/india-facebook-misinformation-hate-speech/ (accessed 2021-12-06)
 Inflammatory content on Facebook was up 300% before Delhi riots, says internal report; https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/ inflammatory-content-fb-was-300-delhi-riots-says-internal-report-156878 (accessed 2021-12-06)
 Indian journalists accused of sedition for farmer protest reports, Al Jazeera; https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/1/indian-journalists-accused-of-sedition-over-farmers-stir-reports (accessed 2021-12-28)
 Section 124A. Sedition: https://www.indiacode.nic.in/show-data?actid=AC_CEN_5_23_00037_186045_1523266765688§ionId=45863§ionno=124A&orderno=133 (accessed 2022-02-04)
 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-55906345 (accessed 2022-02-27)
 Indian government raids BBC offices in wake of documentary critical of Modi https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/02/14/india-raid-bbc-offices-tax (accessed 2023-02-14)
 Zafar, Abid; Portrayal of Muslims in the Bollywood Movies; https://www.academia.edu/37595907/Portrayal_of_Muslims_in_the_Bollywood_Movies (accessed 2021-12-24)
 Khatun, Nadira; ‘Love-Jihad’ and Bollywood: Constructing Muslims as ‘Other, Journal of Religion & Film, Dec. 2018; https://www.academia.edu/38000858/Love_Jihad_and_Bollywood_Constructing_Muslims_as_Other?sm=b (accessed 2021-12-24)
 Panipat vs Tanhaji, Padmavat vs Bajirao Movie: Bollywood Needs To Get Over Its ‘Hindu vs Muslim’ Obsession; https://www.thequint.com/voices/opinion/tanhaji-panipat-ajay-devgn-saif-ali-khan-marathas-hindutva-muslims-hindus#read-more (accessed 2021- 10-21)
 How Bollywood furthers India’s Hindu nationalism; https://www.newframe.com/how-bollywood-furthers-indias-nationalism/ (accessed 2021-10-21)
 Opinion: Why an Indian film’s success at the box office should worry us all; https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/15/why-an-indian-films-success-box-office-should-worry-us-all/ (accessed 2021-12-11)
 Kashmir Files: Vivek Agnihotri’s film exposes India’s new fault lines – BBC News; https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-60732939 (accessed 2022-03-19)
 Kashmir Files, hailed by Modi, triggers anti-Muslim hate speech, Al Jazeera; https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/17/kashmirfiles-film-modi-anti-muslim-hate-speech (accessed 2022-03-19)