Subhas Chandra Bose
Subhas Chandra Bose (Bengali: সুভাষ চন্দ্র বসু, Oriya- ସୁଭାଷ ଚନ୍ଦ୍ର ବୋଷ; (January 23, 1897 - August 18, 1945, although this is disputed), generally known as Netaji (literally, "Respected Leader"), was one of the most prominent and highly respected leaders of the Indian independence movement against the British Raj. Bose was elected president of the Indian National Congress for two consecutive terms but resigned from the post following ideological conflicts with Mahatma Gandhi. Bose believed that Gandhi's tactics of non-violence would never be sufficient to secure India's independence, and advocated violent resistance. He established a separate political party, the All India Forward Bloc and continued to call for the full and immediate independence of India from British rule. He was imprisoned by the British authorities eleven times. His stance did not change with the outbreak of the Second World War, which he saw as an opportunity to take advantage of British weakness. At the outset of the war, he fled from India and traveled to the Soviet Union, Germany and Japan, seeking an alliance with the aim of attacking the British in India. With Japanese assistance, he re-organized and later led the Indian National Army, formed from Indian prisoners-of-war and plantation workers from Malaya, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia, against British forces. With Japanese monetary, political, diplomatic and military assistance, he formed the Azad Hind Government in exile and regrouped and led the Indian National Army in battle against the allies at Imphal and in Burma.
His political views and the alliances he made with Nazi and other militarist regimes at war with Britain have been the cause of arguments among historians and politicians. Some have accused him of Fascist sympathies, while others in India have been more sympathetic towards the realpolitik that guided his social and political choices. He is believed to have died on August 18, 1945, in a plane crash over Taiwan. However, contradictory evidence exists regarding his death in the accident. His legacy rests alongside those of many men and women who resorted to arms in the anti-colonial struggles of the twentieth century. The desire for freedom is strong among people and self-determination is a recognized political right. The colonial powers did not hesitate to use violence to suppress independence movements. The British in India, even in response to non-violent protest, arrested and imprisoned people, which represents a type of violence. Rightly or wrongly, Bose and many others have turned to war to claim their freedom, so strong is the human desire to live in states that control their own destiny. He was far from being a selfish man or a man who spent his life aspiring to personal ambitions. Rather, in the way he thought appropriate, he strove to free his nation from colonial rule.
Subhas Chandra Bose was born January 23, 1897 to an affluent Bengali family in Cuttack, Orissa in India. His father, Janakinath Bose, was a public prosecutor who believed in orthodox nationalism, and later became a member of the Bengal Legislative Council. Bose was educated at Ravenshaw Collegiate School, Cuttack, Scottish Church College, Calcutta and Fitzwilliam College at Cambridge University. He was greatly influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, and adored him as his spiritual guru.
In 1920, Bose took the Indian Civil Services entrance examination and was placed fourth with highest marks in English. However, he resigned from the prestigious Indian Civil Service in April 1921 despite his high ranking in the merit list, and went on to become an active member of India's independence movement. He joined the Indian National Congress, and was particularly active in its youth wing.
Bose was attracted by the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi. So he went to Gandhi and offered himself to work for the Indian National Congress. Gandhi sent him to Calcutta to work under Chittaranjan Das. He therefore returned to Calcutta to work under Chittaranjan Das, the Bengali freedom fighter and co-founder (with Motilal Nehru) of the Swaraj Party.
In 1921, Bose organized a boycott of the celebrations that marked the visit of the Prince of Wales to India, which led to his imprisonment. In April 1924, Bose was elected to the post of Chief Executive Officer of the newly constituted Calcutta Corporation, In October that year, Bose was arrested on suspicion of terrorism. At first, he was kept in Alipore Jail and later he was exiled to Mandalay in Burma (where earlier Bal Gangadhar Tilak had spent 6 years in prison). On January 23, 1930, Bose was once again arrested for leading an "independence procession," protesting against British rule in India. After his release from jail on September 25, he was elected as the Mayor of the City of Calcutta.
Over a span of 20 years, Bose was incarcerated eleven times by the British, either in India or in Burma. During the mid 1930s, he was exiled by the British from India to Europe, where he championed India's cause and aspiration for self-rule before gatherings and conferences.
After his father's death, the British authorities allowed him to land at Calcutta's airport only for the religious rites, which would be followed by his swift departure. He traveled extensively in India and in Europe before stating his political opposition to Gandhi. During his stay in Europe from 1933 to 1936, he met several European leaders and thinkers. He came to believe that India could achieve political freedom only if it had political, military and diplomatic support from outside, and that an independent nation necessitated the creation of a national army to secure its sovereignty. Subhash Chandra Bose married Emilie Schenkl, an Austrian born national, who was his secretary, in 1937. According to Schenkl, she and Bose were secretly married in Bad Gastein on 26 December 1937. They had one daughter, Anita, born in 1942. Bose wrote many letters to Schenkl during the period 1934–1942, of which many have been published in the book Letters to Emilie Schenkl, edited by Sisir Kumar Bose and Sugata Bose.
Bose became the president of the Indian National Congress in 1938, against Gandhi's wishes. Gandhi commented "Pattabhi's defeat is my own defeat. Anyway, Subhas Bose is not an enemy of the country." Gandhi's continued opposition led to the latter's resignation from the Congress Working Committee, and the possibility that the rest of the CWC would resign. In the face of this gesture of no-confidence, Bose himself resigned, and was left with no alternative but to form an independent party, the All India Forward Bloc. Bose also initiated the concept of the National Planning Committee in 1938. A reasonable measure of the contrast between Gandhi and Bose is captured in a saying attributable to him. Bose said "If people slap you once, slap them twice" while Gandhiji said, "If people slap you on one cheek, offer the other." Nonetheless, Bose was an ardent admirer of Gandhi and continued to respect him, despite their differences.
Actions during the Second World War
Bose advocated the approach that the political instability of war-time Britain should be taken advantage of—rather than simply wait for the British to grant independence after the end of the war (which was the view of Gandhi, Nehru and a section of the Congress leadership at the time). In this, he was influenced by the examples of Italian statesmen Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini.
His correspondence reveals that despite his clear dislike for British subjugation, he was deeply impressed by their methodical and systematic approach and their steadfastly disciplinarian outlook towards life. In England, he exchanged ideas on the future of India with British Labour Party leaders and political thinkers like Lord Halifax, George Lansbury, Clement Attlee, Arthur Greenwood, Harold Laski, J.B.S. Haldane, Ivor Jennings, G.D.H. Cole, Gilbert Murray, and Sir Stafford Cripps. He came to believe that a free India needed Socialist authoritarianism, on the lines of Turkey's Kemal Atatürk, for at least two decades. Bose was refused permission by the British authorities to meet Atatürk at Ankara for political reasons. It should be noted that during his sojourn in England, only the Labour Party and Liberal politicians agreed to meet with Bose when he tried to schedule appointments. Conservative Party officials refused to meet Bose or show him the slightest courtesy due to the fact that he was a politician coming from a colony, but it may also be recalled that in the 1930s leading figures in the Conservative Party had opposed even Dominion status for India. It may also be observed here that it was during the regime of the Labour Party (1945-1951), with Attlee as the Prime Minister, that India gained independence.
The Great Escape
On the outbreak of war, Bose advocated a campaign of mass civil disobedience to protest against Viceroy Lord Linlithgow's decision to declare war on India's behalf without consulting the Congress leadership. Having failed to persuade Gandhi of the necessity of this, Bose organized mass protests in Calcutta calling for the 'Holwell Monument' commemorating the Black Hole of Calcutta, which then stood at the corner of Dalhousie Square, to be removed. He was thrown in jail by the British, but was released following a seven-day hunger strike. Bose's house in Calcutta was kept under surveillance by the CBI, but their vigilance left a good deal to be desired. With two court cases pending, he felt the British would not let him leave the country before the end of the war. This set the scene for Bose's escape to Germany, via Afghanistan and the Soviet Union.
Bose escaped from under British surveillance at his house in Calcutta by disguising himself as a Pathan. On January 19 1941, accompanied by his nephew Sisir K. Bose, Bose gave his watchers the slip and journeyed to Peshawar. With the assistance of the Abwehr, he made his way to Peshawar where he was met at Peshawar Cantonment station by Akbar Shah, Mohammed Shah and Bhagat Ram Talwar. Bose was taken to the home of Abad Khan, a trusted friend of Akbar Shah's. On January 26, 1941, Bose began his journey to reach Russia through India's North West frontier with Afghanistan. For this reason, he enlisted the help of Mian Akbar Shah, then a Forward Bloc leader in the North-West Frontier Province. Shah had been out of India en route to the Soviet Union, and suggested a novel disguise for Bose to assume. Since Bose could not speak one word of Pashto, it would make him an easy target of Pashto speakers working for the British. For this reason, Shah suggested that Bose act deaf and dumb, and let his beard grow to mimic those of the tribesmen.
Supporters of the Aga Khan helped him across the border into Afghanistan where he was met by an Abwehr unit posing as a party of road construction engineers from the Organization Todt who then aided his passage across Afghanistan via Kabul to the border with Soviet Russia. Once in Russia the NKVD transported Bose to Moscow where he hoped that Russia's traditional enmity to British rule in India would result in support for his plans for a popular rising in India. However, Bose found the Soviets' response disappointing and was rapidly passed over to the German Ambassador in Moscow, Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg. He had Bose flown on to Berlin in a special courier aircraft at the beginning of April where he was to receive a more favorable hearing from Joachim von Ribbentrop and the Foreign Ministry officials at the Wilhelmstrasse.
In 1941, when the British learned that Bose had sought the support of the Axis Powers, they ordered their agents to intercept and assassinate Bose before he reached Germany. A recently declassified intelligence document refers to a top-secret instruction to the Special Operations Executive (SOE) of British intelligence department to murder Bose. In fact, the plan to liquidate Bose has few known parallels, and appears to be a last desperate measure against a man who had thrown the British Empire into a panic.
Having escaped incarceration at home by assuming the guise of a Pashtun insurance agent ("Ziaudddin") to reach Afghanistan, Bose traveled to Moscow on the passport of an Italian nobleman "Count Orlando Mazzotta." From Moscow, he reached Rome, and from there he traveled to Germany, where he instituted the Special Bureau for India under Adam von Trott zu Solz, broadcasting on the German-sponsored Azad Hind Radio. He founded the Free India Centre in Berlin, and created the Indian Legion (consisting of some 4500 soldiers) out of Indian prisoners of war who had previously fought for the British in North Africa prior to their capture by Axis forces. The Indian Legion was attached to the Wehrmacht, and later transferred to the Waffen SS. Its members swore the following allegiance to Adolf Hitler and Bose: "I swear by God this holy oath that I will obey the leader of the German race and state, Adolf Hitler, as the commander of the German armed forces in the fight for India, whose leader is Subhas Chandra Bose." This oath clearly arrogates control of the Indian legion to the German armed forces whilst stating Bose's overall leadership of India. He was also, however, prepared to envisage an invasion of India via the U.S.S.R. by Nazi troops, spearheaded by the Azad Hind Legion; many have questioned his judgment here, as it seems unlikely that the Germans could have been easily persuaded to leave after such an invasion, which might also have resulted in an Axis victory in the War.
The lack of interest shown by Hitler in the cause of Indian independence eventually caused Bose to become disillusioned with Hitler and he decided to leave Nazi Germany in 1943. Bose had been living together with his wife Emilie Schenkl in Berlin from 1941 until 1943, when he left for south-east Asia. He traveled by the German submarine U-180 around the Cape of Good Hope to Imperial Japan (via Japanese submarine I-29). Thereafter, the Japanese helped him raise his army in Singapore. This was the only civilian transfer across two submarines of two different navies.
Indian National Army [INA]
The Indian National Army (INA) was originally founded by Capt Mohan Singh in Singapore in September 1942 with Japan's Indian POWs in the Far East. This was along the concept of—and with support of—what was then known as the Indian Independence League, headed by expatriate nationalist leader Rash Behari Bose. The first INA was however disbanded in December 1942 after disagreements between the Hikari Kikan and Mohan singh, who came to believe that the Japanese High Command was using the INA as a mere pawn and Propaganda tool. Mohan Singh was taken into custody and the troops returned to the Prisoner-of-War camp. However, the idea of a liberation army was revived with the arrival of Subhas Chandra Bose in the Far East in 1943. In July, at a meeting in Singapore, Rash Behari Bose handed over control of the organization to Subhas Chandra Bose. Bose was able to reorganize the fledging army and organize massive support among the expatriate Indian population in south-east Asia, who lent their support by both enlisting in the Indian National Army, as well as financially in response to Bose's calls for sacrifice for the national cause. At its height it consisted of some 85,000 regular troops, including a separate women's unit, the Rani of Jhansi Regiment (named after Rani Lakshmi Bai) headed by Capt. Laxmi Vishwananthan, which is seen as a first of its kind in Asia.
Even when faced with military reverses, Bose was able to maintain support for the Azad Hind movement. Spoken as a part of a motivational speech for the Indian National Army at a rally of Indians in Burma on July 4, 1944, Bose's most famous quote was "Give your blood. I give you freedom!" In this, he urged the people of India to join him in his fight against the British Raj. Spoken in Hindi, Bose's words are highly evocative. The troops of the INA were under the aegis of a provisional government, the Azad Hind Government, which came to produce its own currency, postage stamps, court and civil code, and was recognized by nine Axis states—Germany, Japan, Italy, the Independent State of Croatia, Wang Jingwei's Government in Nanjing, Thailand, a provisional government of Burma, Manchukuo and Japanese-controlled Philippines. Recent researches have shown that the USSR too had recognized the "Provisional Government of Free India." Of those countries, five were authorities established under Axis occupation. This government participated as a delegate or observer in the so-called Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
The INA's first commitment was in the Japanese thrust towards Eastern Indian frontiers of Manipur. INA's special forces, the Bahadur Group, were extensively involved in operations behind enemy lines both during the diversionary attacks in Arakan, as well as the Japanese thrust towards Imphal and Kohima, along with the Burmese National Army led by Ba Maw and Aung San. A year after the islands were taken by the Japanese, the Provisional Government and the INA were established in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with Lt Col. A.D. Loganathan appointed its Governor General. The islands were renamed Shaheed (Martyr) and Swaraj (Self-rule). However, the Japanese Navy remained in essential control of the island's administration. During Bose's only visit to the islands in late in 1943, when he was carefully screened from the local population by the Japanese authorities, who at that time were torturing the leader of the Indian Independence League on the Islands, Dr. Diwan Singh (who later died of his injuries, in the Cellular Jail). The islanders made several attempts to alert Bose to their plight, but apparently without success. Enraged with the lack of administrative control, Lt. Col Loganathan later relinquished his authority to return to the Government's head quarters in Rangoon.
On the Indian mainland, an Indian Tricolour, modeled after that of the Indian National Congress, was raised for the first time in the town in Moirang, in Manipur, in north-eastern India. The towns of Kohima and Imphal were placed under siege by divisions of the Japanese, Burmese and the Gandhi and Nehru Brigades of I.N.A. during the attempted invasion of India, also known as Operation U-GO. However, Commonwealth forces held both positions and then counter-attacked, in the process inflicting serious losses on the besieging forces, which were then forced to retreat back into Burma.
Bose had hoped that large numbers of soldiers would desert from the Indian Army when they would discover that INA soldiers were attacking British India from the outside. However, this did not materialize on a sufficient scale. Instead, as the war situation worsened for the Japanese, troops began to desert from the INA. At the same time Japanese funding for the army diminished, and Bose was forced to raise taxes on the Indian populations of Malaysia and Singapore, sometimes extracting money by force. When the Japanese were defeated at the battles of Kohima and Imphal, the Provisional Government's aim of establishing a base in mainland India was lost forever. The INA was forced to pull back, along with the retreating Japanese army, and fought in key battles against the British Indian Army in its Burma campaign, notable in Meiktilla, Mandalay, Pegu, Nyangyu and Mount Popa. However, with the fall of Rangoon, Bose's government ceased be an effective political entity. A large proportion of the INA troops surrendered under Lt Col Loganathan when Rangoon fell. The remaining troops retreated with Bose towards Malaya or made for Thailand. Japan's surrender at the end of the war also led to the eventual surrender of the Indian National Army, when the troops of the British Indian Army were repatriated to India and some tried for treason.
His other famous quote was, "Chalo Delhi," meaning "On to Delhi!" This was the call he used to give the INA armies to motivate them. "Jai Hind," or, "Victory to India!" was another slogan used by him and later adopted by the Government of India and the Indian Armed Forces.
Disappearance and alleged death of Bose
Officially, Bose died in a plane crash over Taiwan, while flying to Tokyo on August 18, 1945. However, his body was never recovered, and many theories have been put forward concerning his possible survival. One such claim is that Bose actually died in Siberia, while in Soviet captivity. Several committees have been set up by the Government of India to probe into this matter.
In May 1956, a four-man Indian team (known as the Shah Nawaz Committee) visited Japan to probe the circumstances of Bose's alleged death. The Indian government did not then request assistance from the government of Taiwan in the matter, citing their lack of diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
However, the Inquiry Commission under Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the Bose disappearance mystery in the period 1999-2005, did approach the Taiwanese government and obtained information from the Taiwan Government that no plane carrying Bose had ever crashed in Taipei. The Mukherjee Commission also received a report originating from the US State Department, supporting the claim of the Taiwan Government that no such air crash took place during that time frame.
The Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry submitted its report to the Indian Government on November 8, 2005. The report was tabled in Parliament on May 17, 2006. The probe said in its report that Bose did not die in the plane crash and the ashes at Renkoji temple are not his. However, the Indian Government rejected the findings of the Commission.
Several people believed that the Hindu sanyasi named Bhagwanji, who lived in Faizabad, near Ayodhya in 1985, was Subhas Chandra Bose in exile. There had been at least four known occasions when Bhagwanji said he was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The belongings of the sanyasi were taken into custody after his death, following a court order in this regard. These were later subjected to the inspection by the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry. The commission refuted this belief, in the absence of any "clinching evidence." The independent probe done by the Hindustan Times into this case had provided hints that the monk was Bose himself. The life and works of Bhagwanji remain a mystery even today.
Bose's earlier correspondence (prior to 1939) also reflects his deep disapproval of the racist practices of, and annulment of democratic institutions in Nazi Germany. He also, however, expressed admiration for the authoritarian methods (though not the racial ideologies) which he saw in Italy and Germany during the 1930s, and thought they could be used in building an independent India. He described Hitler's nationalism as inspired by "selfish and racial arrogance." He was, comments Pelinka and Schell, no racist.
Bose had clearly expressed his belief that democracy was the best option for India. The pro-Bose thinkers believe that his authoritarian control of the Azad Hind was based on political pragmatism and a post-colonial recovery doctrine rather than any anti-democratic belief. However, during the war (and possibly as early as the 1930s) Bose seems to have decided that no democratic system could be adequate to overcome India's poverty and social inequalities, and he wrote that an authoritarian state, similar to that of Soviet Russia (which he had also seen and admired) would be needed for the process of national re-building. Accordingly some suggest that Bose's alliance with the Axis during the war was based on more than just pragmatism, and that Bose was a militant nationalist, though not a Nazi, nor a Fascist, for he supported empowerment of women, secularism and other democratic ideas; alternatively, others consider he might have been using populist methods of mobilization common to many post-colonial leaders. Pelinka and Schell comment that Bose was free of "nationalist and racist prejudices" and wrote that Hitler's nationalism was "inspired by selfish and racial arrogance."
Bose's role in India's independence movement has been overshadowed by memory of the peaceful protests of Gandhi and of the political achievement of Jawaharlal Nehru. His political views and the alliances he made with Nazi and other militarist regimes at war with Britain remain controversial, with some accusing him of Fascist sympathies, while others in India have been more sympathetic towards the realpolitik that guided his social and political choices. Whether his strategy hastened Britain's departure from India is debatable, since by the end of World War II they were ready to "quit India" anyone. All types of resistance to continued British rule, violent and non-violent, however, served to pull the moral rug from under colonial rule. The argument that Indians wanted British oversight and tutelage and appreciated their guidance became difficult to sustain. He was one many men and women who resorted to arms in the anti-colonial struggles of the twentieth century. The desire for freedom is strong among people and self-determination is a recognized political right. The colonial powers did not hesitate to use violence to suppress independence movement. The British in India, even in response to non-violent protest, arrested and imprisoned people, which represents a type of violence. Rightly or wrongly, Bose and many others have turned to war to claim their freedom, so strong is the human desire to live in states that control their own destiny. He was far from being a selfish man or a man who spent his life trying to personal ambitions. Rather, he spent his life striving to free his nation from colonial rule.
- Indian National Army
- Indian National Congress
- ↑ Bose, et al. 1994.
- ↑ Guha, 1986, 62.
- ↑ Nobrega and Sinha, 2008, xiv.
- ↑ Bose, 1996, 76.
- ↑ Kurowski, 1997, 136.
- ↑ Subir Bhaumik, British "attempted to kill Bose," BBC News (15 August 2005). Retrieved December 24, 2008.
- ↑ Hartog, 2001, 159-160.
- ↑ Mike Thomson, Hitler's secret Indian army, BBC (September 23, 2004). Retrieved December 24, 2008.
- ↑ Satadru Sen. Subhas Chandra Bose 1897-1945, Andaman Association, 1999. Retrieved December 24, 2008.
- ↑ Singh, 2002, 5.
- ↑ Patil, 1988, 186.
- ↑ Singh, 1978, 249.
- ↑ Subhas Chandra Bose, Speech at a mass rally, Singapore, 9 July 1943, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose & India's Independence. Retrieved December 24, 2008.
- ↑ Toye, 1984, 112, 113, 115.
- ↑ Outlook India, No crash at Taipei that killed Netaji: Taiwan govt. Outlook India.com (Feb 3, 2005). Retrieved December 24, 2008.
- ↑ The Times of India, Netaji case: US backs Taiwan govt. The Times of India, (September 19, 2005). Retrieved December 24, 2008.
- ↑ Anuj Dhar, Bhagwanji said: "I am Subhas," Hindustan Times (2002). Retrieved December 24, 2008.
- ↑ Express India, Netaji did not die in a plane crash. Express India (May 17, 2006). Retrieved December 24, 2008.
- ↑ Hindu Times, Subhas Bose Probe: Phase I. Retrieved December 24, 2008.
- ↑ Bose, et al., The Essential Writings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, 1997, 155.
- ↑ Pelinka and Schell, 2003, 103, 185.
- ↑ R.C. Roy, Social, Economic and Political Philosophy of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Orissa Review. Retrieved December 24, 2008.
- ↑ "The Fundamental Problems of India" (An address to the Faculty and students of Tokyo University, November 1944): "You cannot have a so-called democratic system, if that system has to put through economic reforms on a socialistic basis. Therefore we must have a political system—a State—of an authoritarian character. We have had some experience of democratic institutions in India and we have also studied the working of democratic institutions in countries like France, England and United States of America. And we have come to the conclusion that with a democratic system we cannot solve the problems of Free India. Therefore, modern progressive thought in India is in favor of a State of an authoritarian character" The Essential Writings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Bose, et al., 1997, 319-320.
- ↑ Pelinka and Schell, 2003, 185.
ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
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All links retrieved February 26, 2023.
- Mystery over India freedom hero. BBC News, May 17, 2006.
- Biography Kamat's Potpouri
- Subhas Chandra Bose and India's Struggle for Independence by Andrew Montgomery, Institute for Historical Review.
- Netaji Research Bureau
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