Responsive Ad Slot



Remembering NETA JI on his birthday

Thursday, January 23, 2020

/ by Satyagrahi
On this day, 123 years ago, 'Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born in Cuttack. Bose rejected a career in Indian Civil Service to join Indian National Congress, and emerged as its most popular leader. A fierce patriot, he raised the Indian National Army that fought Valiantly on India's northeast borders. Japan's defeat in the Second World War foiled his plans to liberate India from the outside. His death in an air crash remains an unsolved mystery

What brought Bose into India’s independence movement?
Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack, Orissa Division, Bengal Province, to Prabhavati Devi and Janakinath Bose, an advocate.
A brilliant student right from childhood, he topped matriculation in Calcutta province and graduated with a First-Class in Philosophy from the Scottish Church College, Calcutta. He joined Presidency College in 1911. He was, however, expelled later for assaulting a professor, E F Oaten, who had made some anti-India comments. To fulfill his parents’ wishes, he went to England in 1919 to compete for a place in the Indian Civil Service (ICS).
In 1920, he appeared for the ICS examination there and stood fourth in the order of merit. Strongly influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings and full of patriotic zeal, Bose was so disturbed by the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre that he withdrew from his ICS apprenticeship midway and returned to India in 1921. He soon left home to become an active member of India's independence movement. He later joined Indian National Congress.
Bose worked as the CEO of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation for Chittaranjan Das when the latter was elected mayor of Calcutta in 1924. In a roundup of nationalists in 1925, Bose was arrested and sent to prison in Mandalay, where he contracted tuberculosis.
In 1927, after being released from prison, Bose became general secretary of the Congress party and worked with Jawaharlal Nehru for independence. In late December 1928, Bose organized the Annual Meeting of the Indian National Congress in Calcutta. His most memorable role was as General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Congress Volunteer Corps.
A little later, Bose was again arrested and jailed for civil disobedience; this time he emerged to become Mayor of Calcutta in 1930. During the mid-1930s Bose travelled across Europe, visiting Indian students and European politicians, including Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

Why did differences arise with Gandhi?
“Though we have discussed sharp differences of opinion between us, I am quite sure that our private relations will not suffer in the least. If they are from the heart, I believe they are, they will bear the strain of these differences”. ~ Gandhi in a letter to Bose, dated 02.04.1939

To Subhas Bose, Gandhi always remained “India's greatest man”. His appreciation of the unique contribution of Gandhi was unequivocal. He recognised and admitted Gandhi as the undisputable, unrivalled leader of the masses. Bose had all praise for Gandhi's unflinching patriotism and firmness of character. In fact, Bose “bowed” before Gandhi's “single hearted devotion, his relentless will, and his indefatigable labour”. To Gandhi, Bose was like a son whose “self-sacrifice and suffering, drive, integrity and commitment to the national cause and the capacity to bind all Indians into one people were unsurpassed.” However, they could not find a way to work together for the same cause.

By the 1930s, there was a massive difference of opinion between the old and new members of the Congress. The young leaders, including Subhas Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru, wanted ‘complete self-rule and without any compromise’ while the senior leaders were in favour of the ‘dominion status for India within the British rule’.
Bose stood for unqualified Swaraj (self-governance), even including the use of force against the British. This meant a confrontation with Mohandas Gandhi, who in fact opposed Bose's presidency, splitting the Indian National Congress party. Bose attempted to maintain unity, but Gandhi advised Bose to form his own cabinet. The rift also divided Bose and Nehru.

In 1938, Gandhi got Bose elected as the President of Indian National Congress even when he was not an official member. This was an effort by Gandhi to conciliate Bose. However, unfortunately both for the Congress and the country, the alliance between Bose and Gandhi remained precarious. Subhas Chandra Bose not only condemned Gandhi's favourite ‘Charakha’ (the spinning wheel) but also gave a call to modernise India. He called upon the people to get united for an armed struggle against the British.
Gandhi had no hint about the popularity of Bose in the ranks of Congress until 1939.
At the presidential election in January 1939, Bose was vigorously opposed both by Gandhi and Nehru. Nevertheless, he achieved a decisive victory over his opponent Dr. Pattabhi Sittaramayya, Gandhi's nominee, by 1580 to 1375 votes. Gandhi took this as a personal defeat.
Bose was a revolutionary in a rush. At the Tripuri Congress session, Bose as Congress president made a clear proposal that the Congress should immediately send an ultimatum to the British Government demanding independence within six months. This move was blocked by the ‘Gandhi group’. Frustrated, Bose resigned from the post of President of Congress on April 29, 1939.
He immediately proceeded to form a radical party, the All India Forward Bloc, bringing the entire left wing under one banner.

Bose separated ways but did not lose respect for Gandhi. He said, “it will always be my aim and object to try and win his confidence for the simple reason that it will be tragic for me if I succeed in winning the confidence of other people but fail to win the confidence of India's greatest man”.
Gandhi also remained fond of Bose. On the eve of launching the Quit India Movement in 1942, Gandhi described Bose as “a patriot of patriots” to an American journalist.
In his last radio address Bose spoke directly to Gandhi telling him that Indians outside India hold him in high esteem and seeking his blessing for the difficult mission that Bose was about to embark on. “Father of our Nation, in this holy war of India's liberation we ask you for your blessings and good wishes.”
While it is common for people today to portray Gandhi and Bose as adversaries, the relationship that the two shared was that of mutual respect and based on truthfulness, transparency, sacrifice and suffering.

When was the Indian National Army raised?
Bose vehemently opposed the Congress decision to support the British during the Second World War. With the aim to initiate a mass movement, Bose called out to Indians for their whole-hearted participation.
There was tremendous response to his “Give me blood and I will give you freedom” call and the British promptly imprisoned him. In jail, he declared a hunger strike. When his health deteriorated, the authorities, fearing violent reactions, released him but put him under house arrest.
In January 1941, Subhash made a sensational escape and reached Berlin, Germany via a detour through Peshawar. Germans assured him their full support in his endeavours and he gained allegiance of Japan as well. He took a perilous journey back east and reached Japan where he assumed command of over 40,000 soldiers recruited from Singapore and other south East Asian regions. He called his band of soldiers as the Indian National Army (INA).
The Japanese sailed into Port Blair in March 1942, shortly after the fall of Rangoon earlier that month. They faced little resistance from the small local garrison and enrolled the Indian soldiers into the INA. Bose visited Port Blair to raise the tricolour and technically take charge of the islands in December 1943, renaming the Andamans “Shahid Dweep” (Martyr Island) and the Nicobars “Swaraj Dweep” (Self-Rule Island). A provisional “Azad Hind Government” started functioning in the captured territories.
The INA (the Azad Hind Fauj) crossed the Burma border, and stood on Indian soil on March 18, 1944. Unfortunately, the tide of the World War turned and the Japanese and German forces surrendered which forced him to call off further advancement.

The Andaman Islands were the only part of India that was actually controlled by the Indian National Army. But its administration over the islands was only nominal. In reality, power was exercised by the Japanese forces – so brutally that they caused the residents of the islands to develop a deep hatred both for the Japanese and Bose’s army.
The Narendra Modi government in 2018 gave names to three islands in the Andaman and Nicobar Union territory. Ross Island, Neil Island and Havelock Island are now Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Island, Shaheed Dweep and Swaraj Dweep respectively.

Where does the mystery surrounding his death come from?
There is an official version of Netaji's death that came from the Japanese government. According to this, Netaji flew out from Taiwan on August 18, 1945.
The plane crashed into two while taking off. Netaji was badly burned in the crash. He died a few hours later in a local hospital. His body was cremated within two days. His ashes were taken to Tokyo where they still remain in the Renkoji Temple. Many of Netaji's lieutenants who accompanied him on his travels were not allowed to get on the plane with him. They never saw Netaji's body. There are no photographs. And there is no death certificate.

Many among his supporters, especially in Bengal, refused at the time, and have refused since, to believe either the fact or the circumstances of his death. The Shah Nawaz Khan-led inquiry instituted by the then Indian Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru investigated the matter later in 1956 and reached the same conclusion as the Japanese Government.
Conspiracy theories appeared within hours of his death and have thereafter had a long shelf life, keeping alive various martial myths about Bose.
The first theory is that Netaji fled to Russia. There is some evidence that he was on good terms with the Russian dictator Josef Stalin. It has been suggested that Stalin, who had contempt for Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, had some use for Netaji. He offered him asylum and then intended to send him back to India. Except that Stalin did no such thing - he never sent Netaji back! And every time the Indian government refused to release the files citing their impact on relations with foreign countries, the conspiracy theorists took this to refer to relations with Russia. It was proof, they said, of the Stalin connection.

The second theory is that Netaji did actually return to India. But he did this in secret. He never told anyone that he was Netaji, assumed another identity and died in 1985. In 2005, after six years of investigation, the Manoj Mukherjee Commission, appointed by the government of India, said that Netaji did not die in an air crash in Taiwan. In fact, the Commission said there was no air crash that day. And in a sensational twist, Justice Mukherjee drew attention to a mysterious sadhu called Gumnami Baba, who many people believe, was Netaji in disguise. The government of India rejected the report. It is not clear why would Bose not come out and reveal his identity in an independent India.
On January 23, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declassified 100 files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Despite the infinite conspiracy theories of his death, these documents did not offer thing substantial on the claim of his death in the plane crash in Taiwan.

Who was Bose’s mentor?
Bose considered Chittaranjan Das as his mentor. Das was the founder-leader of the Swaraj Party (under Indian National Congress) in Bengal under the British Raj.
Das was an influential orator and carried political foresight and tact, which gave him a leading position in the Congress. Das is generally referred to as Deshbandhu, which means "Friend of the nation". He also brought out a newspaper called 'Forward' and later changed its name to Liberty to fight the British Raj.
Das was a staunch believer in non-violence and advocated the adherence of constitutional ways in order to attain independence for India. He preached communal concord and supported the cause of national education.
Bose initially went to Gandhi for guidance who, perceiving the passion for India's freedom that consumed Bose, directed him to Deshbandbu Chittaranjan Das, who had in the meantime arrived on the Indian political firmament to become the de-facto leader of Bengal.

From then on, for a period of four years till Das's death in 1925, Bose was his political protégé. Bose first proved his mettle by working for the total boycott of the Prince of Wales in Calcutta in 1921; subsequently, his capacity for organisation and executive ability were amply demonstrated in the discharge of his duties as Chief Executive Officer of the Calcutta Corporation during the mayoralty of C. R. Das.

How admirable was the patriotism of Bose?
The British ruled India only on the strength of the British Indian army whose soldiers were Indians but officers were British. Smartly, the British had raised the army on communal lines with regiments based on castes and communities to perpetuate feudal feelings and prevent the development of a national consciousness.

Netaji Subhas Bose, realizing this, raised an Indian National Army (INA) which had men – even women - of all castes and communities in mixed regiments and who ate from the same kitchens. The poorly equipped INA men (recruited in South-East Asia from Indian prisoners of war) fought valiantly on India’s northeast borders but lost the battle. 26,000 of the 60,000 INA soldiers perished on the battlefront.
Significantly, Netaji raised the level of consciousness among Indian soldiers who fought for the British. During the wartime, INA’s exploits remained unreported because of military censorship. But with the historic trials at Red Fort in late 1945 where three officers of the INA (a Hindu, one Sikh and a Muslim) were charged with waging war against ‘the King-Emperor’, a new wave of nationalism ran through the country including in the armed forces. The sooner we can forget our differences and work together, the sooner we will attain independence, he said in a radio broadcast during World War II. In the same broadcast, he touched upon the many social challenges in India that could only be dealt with unitedly in an independent nation. "No force can now stop India's independence", he roared and promised Indians that they may have been born in a slave nation but they will die in an independent and prosperous India.

Sections of the armed forces became restive and there was a mutiny in the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) from Karachi to Calcutta. The British began fearing an encore of the 1857 rebellion which had nearly resulted in their eviction from India.
After the War, the newly elected Labour government in Great Britain under Clement Atlee suddenly and inexplicably decided to grant freedom to India. A few years later in 1956, as a private citizen, Atlee visited Calcutta. The acting Governor of West Bengal, Justice P V Chuckraborty in a private meeting asked Atlee the compelling reasons which made the British leave.
Atlee said that the INA activities of Bose had weakened the foundation of the British Empire in India and the mutiny of the Royal Indian navy made the British realize that Indian forces could no longer be trusted to prop up the British. When asked about the role of the Quit India movement and Mahatma Gandhi in pushing out the British, Atlee’s lip widened in a smile of disdain and he uttered slowly “minimal.” While that was a personal opinion, it is still a thought to mull over.

I leave you with a few of the many soul stirring statements of Bose, a socialist nationalist:

“One individual may die for an idea; but that idea will, after his death, incarnate itself in a thousand lives. That is how the wheel of evolution moves on and the ideas and dreams of one nation are bequeathed to the next.”

“I have no doubt in my mind that our chief national problems relating to the eradication of poverty, illiteracy and disease and the scientific production and distribution can be tackled only along socialistic lines.”

“When we stand, the Azad Hind Fauz has to be like a wall of granite; when we march, the Azad Hind Fauz has to be like a steamroller.”

“Nationalism is inspired by the highest ideals of the human race, satyam [the truth], shivam [the God], sundaram [the beautiful].”

“For the present, I can offer you nothing except hunger, thirst, privation, forced marches and death. But if you follow me in life and in death, as I am confident you will, I shall lead you to victory and freedom. It does not matter who among us will live to see India free. It is enough that India shall be free and that we shall give our all to make her free.”

“We should have but one desire today, the desire to die so that India may live, the desire to face a martyr’s death, so that the path to freedom may be paved with the martyr’s blood.”

“A true soldier needs both military and spiritual training.”

“Gird up your loins for the task that now lies ahead. I had asked you for men, money and materials. I have got them in generous measure. Now I demand more of you. Men, money and materials cannot by themselves bring victory or freedom. We must have the motive-power that will inspire us to brave deeds and heroic exploits.”

“No real change in history has ever been achieved by discussions.”

“For an enslaved people, there can be no greater pride, no higher honour, than to be the first soldier in the army of liberation.”

“As soldiers, you will always have to cherish and live up to the three ideals of faithfulness, duty and sacrifice. Soldiers who always remain faithful to their nation, who are always prepared to sacrifice their lives, are invincible. If you, too, want to be invincible, engrave these three ideals in the innermost core of your hearts.”

“You give me your blood and I will give you Independence!”




No comments

Post a Comment

Don't Miss
© all rights reserved