Is Hitler really an Indian management guru?

A report suggests Indian students are snapping up Hitler's Mein Kampf - to make them better managers.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Mein Kampf, the two-volume account of Adolf Hitler’s political ideology, is still banned in several countries – but it continues to fly off the shelves in India, according to the Daily Telegraph. The newspaper quotes one publisher who claims to have shifted more than 10,000 copies of the book in Delhi in the last six months alone – and the local booksellers claim it’s because local students are using it as some kind of self-help guide to improve their leadership and management skills. But it’s not exactly ‘The One Minute Manager’, is it?

Just in case you’re wondering, there aren’t two versions of Mein Kampf – this is the same virtually unreadable tract that Hitler dictated in prison in the 1920s, before his ascent to power. Even if you can stomach the vitriol, paranoia, militarism and crude racism, the book is so long and tedious that even Hitler’s ally Mussolini didn’t manage to plough his way through it, once apparently dismissing it as ‘a boring tome that I never been able to read’ (Churchill concurred, calling it ‘turgid, verbose [and] shapeless’). So its credentials as a management text seem rather dubious.

However, one local bookshop owner (who clearly has absolutely no qualms about selling the book to students) told the Telegraph that buyers saw it as a good example of someone forming and executing a strategy. ‘They see it as a kind of success story where one man can have a vision, work out a plan on how to implement it and then successfully complete it’. Now our grasp of history is not quite Simon Schama-esque, but it wasn’t really that successful, was it?

If you’re thinking this all sounds a bit unlikely, you’re not the only one. Indian academic Dr J Kuruvachira, who has previously written about links between the Nazis and Hindu nationalists, told the paper that he suspected the book’s popularity was actually political. ‘It could be the case that management students are buying the book, [but] my feeling is that it has more likely influenced some of the fascist organisations operating in India and nearby,’ he said. Sounds a bit more plausible to us...

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