It is blood alone that can pay the price of freedom. Give me blood and I will give you freedom! This was said by none other than the extremely patriotic leader Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. He was fiercely passionate about the development and future of Bharat.
This year the government is commemorating his 125th birth anniversary by observing the Republic Day celebration from 23rd January henceforth. This is an apparent effort of the government in keeping the rich historical legacy and culture of Bharat alive
From the Beginning
Netaji was born on 23 January 1897 in city of Cuttack, Orissa Division, Bengal Province, to Prabhavati Dutt Bose and Janakinath Bose, an advocate belonging to a Bengali Kayastha family.
His early influences included his headmaster, Beni Madhav Das, and the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He believed that the Bhagavad Gita was a great source of inspiration for the struggle against the British. Swami Vivekananda’s teachings on universalism, his nationalist thoughts and his emphasis on social service and reform had all inspired Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose from his very young days.
He entered an English School in Cuttack at the age of five and in 1909, was transferred to Ravenshaw Collegiate School. He matriculated from Cuttack in 1913 and joined the Presidency College in Calcutta. By 1916, the rebellious Bose was expelled from Presidency College and banished from Calcutta University over an incident where students attacked English professor, E. F. Oaten.
However, he was finally admitted to Scottish Church College, Calcutta in 1917, graduating with first-class honours in philosophy in 1919. He entered Cambridge University on 9 September 1919 to study for the Indian Civil Service Examination. In July 1920, Bose took the ICS exams in London and after only eight months of study, he came at fourth rank.
Finally, in April 1921, he withdrew from taking up this post with the ICS and returned to India in the summer of 1921.
The Political Journey
After arriving India, Subhash Chandra Bose met with the Indian leaders, Mahatma Gandhi and Chittaranjan Das, and joined the Congress Party. Soon after, Bose and Das were arrested on Christmas day in 1921 for successfully organising a boycott against the Prince of Wales’s visit to India, and were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
Upon his release, Bose busied himself with flood relief work, editorial services for the publication Forward in Calcutta and working for the Swaraj Party.
His journey was quite eventful. From 1928 to 1937, he remained in politics, and was arrested twice by British authorities. He was appointed President of the Indian Congress Party in 1938 but resigned on 28 April 1939. Bose was an advocate of
armed resistance against British colonialism; he could not come to terms with the ideology of non-violent resistance that Gandhi advocated.
Upon his resignation, he formed the All India Forward Bloc on 3 May 1939, a party within Congress. He fought a losing battle against both Gandhi and the Congress party for 20 months until he was removed from the presidency of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee and banned from holding any elective office for three years.
In March 1940, Bose convened an Anti-Compromise Conference at Ramgarh in Bihar under the joint auspices of the Forward Bloc and Kisan Sabha, and by June of that year, was demanding the establishment of a Provisional National Government in India.
The making of Netaji and Azad Hind Fauj
Arrested again on 21 July 1940, Netaji this time went on a hunger strike, demanding his release, which came only in December 1940. Despite strict surveillance, he managed to escape under the guise of an up-country Muslim gentleman. With the help of the Italian embassy, and travelling under the name of Orlando Mazzota, he reached Germany via Moscow.
He recruited Indian prisoners-of-war in Europe and north Africa to form the Azad Hind Fauj or Indian National Army to fight for India’s freedom. Inspired by his leadership, his followers in Berlin honoured him with the name Netaji, acknowledging his stature as a leader. Netaji arrived in Singapore on 2 July 1943 at the invitation of revolutionary freedom fighter Rash Bihari Bose. He was appointed President of the Indian Independence League and took over from Rash Bihari Bose as leader of the Indian Independence League in East Asia.
On 21 October 1943, Subhas Chandra Bose proclaimed the formation of the Provisional Government of Free India at Cathay Cinema Hall. Two days later, he declared war on Britain and the United States. With help from the Japanese, he re-organised and rejuvenated the Azad Hind Fauj.
On 14 April 1944, he led the Azad Hind Fauj on an offensive against the British in India. Crossing the Burmese border, he hoisted the Indian National tri-colour flag at Moirang, Manipur. It was a symbol of claiming Indian soil from the British.
However, the offensive failed to take Kohima and Imphal and the troops retreated to Burma. As, the campaign came to a halt because of the fast-changing international situation, Bose left for Singapore via Bangkok on 24 April 1944.
Theories on his mysterious death
While in Singapore, Bose received the news of the Japanese surrender on 12 August 1945. Since their occupation of Southeast Asia, the Japanese had supported Bose’s fight for an independent India. On 17 August 1945, Bose left Singapore for Bangkok and later Saigon by plane. In Saigon he accepted a seat offered to him in a Japanese bomber.
The Japanese promised that they would extend facilities to him to reach the Russianoccupied Manchuria, where Netaji hoped to make contact with the Soviets to see if they would support his nationalist movement.
However, the plane is said to have crashed in the vicinity of Taihoku (Taipei) airport at 2 pm on 18 August. One theory is that he was badly burned in the crash and subsequently died in a Japanese military hospital in Taipei. Many experts believe that Bose did not die in the Taipei air crash andnthat the death report was a subterfuge by Bose, his aides and the Japanese to help him escape safely to Manchuria. From there, it was speculated that he made his way to the Soviet Union to seek their support for his nationalist movement against the British, but he was turned down and died in a Soviet gulag.
Some also believe that he returned from Russia to India and lived anonymously as a hermit. In response to the controversy over his death, three separate inquiry commissions were initiated to study what had happened to him. The Shah Nawaz Khan Committee (1956) and the Justice G. D. Khosla Commission (1970–74) both concluded that Bose had died in the air crash in Taipei.
However, the report by the third inquiry commission, which was set up in 1999 and led by retired Justice M. K. Mukherjee, contradicted the findings of the earlier inquiries. The Mukherjee Commission’s findings were rejected by then UPA government.
Netaji continues to be one of the relevant icons for independent Bharat because of his nationalistic, revolutionary ideas and genuine dedication to lead Bharat towards true liberation.
“Success always stands on the pillar of failure.” He lived with this philosophy and also inspired others. Netaji encountered failures several times, but he converted those failures to triumph with his struggle. The tenacious endeavours he took to strive for independence made Netaji an indispensable part of the Indian freedom struggle.