Subhas Chandra Bose- a fierce nationalist, an effective oratorand organiser, a patriot and one of the greatest freedom fighters in Indian history is popularly revered as Neta Ji. He is credited for setting up the Indian National Army from the war prisoners and fighting a decisive war against the British and forming an independent Government. Before setting up INA. Netaji worked in Congress. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is one of the most revered leaders in Bharatiya history. He was highly patriotic, fiercely intelligent and extremely passionate about the development & future of Bharat.
Subhas Chandra Bose was born on 23 January 1897 in city of Cuttack, Orissa Division, Bengal Province, to PrabhavatiDutt Bose and Janakinath Bose, an advocate belonging to a Bengali Kayastha family.
Bose was the ninth child of a family of 14 and the sixth son of his parents. 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. His early influences included his headmaster, Beni Madhav Das, and the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
At 17, Bose suddenly left his college in Calcutta without a word to his parents and went on a pilgrimage in search of a spiritual guru. After visiting renowned gurus of his day in places such as Rishikesh, Haridwar, Mathura, Vrindavan, Varanasi and Gaya, he failed to find a guru whom he could follow and returned to Calcutta utterly .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. Bose then faced a dilemma as to whether to take up this opportunity and sought advice from his family through correspondence to India. Finally in April 1921, Bose withdrew from taking up this post with the ICS and returned to India in the summer of 1921.
After arriving India, 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.
In 1924, Bose was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Calcutta Corporation at the same time when Das was elected Mayor of Calcutta. Bose was again detained in Mandalay, under the new Bengal Ordinance on 24 October 1924. He was released only two-and-a-half years later on the grounds of ill health, as he was suffering from tuberculosis. 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.
Arrested again on 21 July 1940, Bose this time went on a hunger strike, demanding his release, which came only in December 1940. Despite strict surveillance, Bose 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. There 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.
Bose 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 (also called the Indian National Army). He lobbied aggressively for funds in Malaya and other parts of Southeast Asia and launched a recruitment drive for the Azad Hind Fauj.
Bose was able to recruit many British Indian troops to the Azad Hind FaujOn 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.
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 Russian-occupied Manchuria, where Bose 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 Bose was badly burned in the crash and subsequently died in a Japanese military hospital in Taipei.
However, this account of Bose’s death is not accepted by many people till date. Many experts believe that Bose did not die in the Taipei air crash and that 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. Many experts also believe that he returned from Russia to India and lived anonymously as a hermit.
In response to the controversy over Bose’s 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.
However, Mukherjee Commission’s findings were rejected by then UPA government.
Subhas Chandra Bose 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 Subhas Chandra Bose from his very young days.
Netaji remains one of the biggest icons for independent Bharat. In 2022, the Union government under the leadership of PM NarendraModi decided that the Republic Day celebrations for January 26 each year would now onwards start from Netaji’s birth anniversary-January 23.
Quotes by Subhash Chandra Bose
• It is only, on the basis of undiluted Nationalism and of perfect justice and impartiality that the Indian Army of Liberation can be built up.
(In his address to the Indian National Army on becoming its Supreme Commander on 26 August 1943, as quoted in India Calling (1946) by himself and R. I. Paul, p. 52)
• 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.
(In his address to the Indian National Army on becoming its Supreme Commander on 26 August 1943, as quoted in Formation and growth of the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) (1946) by Durlab Singh, p. 25)
• 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.
(Speech in Burma (July 1944) as quoted in The Great Speeches of Modern India (2011) by Rudrangshu Mukherjee)
• It is blood alone that can pay the price of freedom. Give me blood and I will give you freedom!
(Speech in Burma (July 1944) as quoted in The Great Speeches of Modern India (2011) by Rudrangshu Mukherjee)
• India is calling. Blood is calling to blood. Get up, we have no time to lose. Take up your arms ! we shall carve our way through the enemy's ranks, or if God wills, we shall die a martyr's death. And in our last sleep we shall kiss the road that will bring our Army to Delhi. The road to Delhi is the road to Freedom. Chalo Delhi (March to Delhi)."
(As quoted in India Calling (1946) by himself and R. I. Paul, p. 5)
• One individual may die for an idea, but that idea will, after his death, incarnate itself in a thousand lives.
• 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.The Very first thing that our future national government will have to do is to set up a commission for drawing up a comprehensive plan for reconstruction.
(As quoted in The Alternative Leadership 1936-1941 (1996) by AleanderWerth p. 63)
• Reality is, after all, too big for our frail understanding to fully comprehend. Nevertheless, we have to build our life on the theory which contains the maximum truth. We cannot sit still because we cannot, or do not , know the Absolute Truth.
(As quoted in An Indian pilgrim: an unfinished autobiography (1997) by himself, Sisir Kumar Bose, and Sugata Bose, p. 124)
• You will readily understand my mental condition as I stand on the threshold of what the man-in-the-street would call a promising career.There is much to be said favour of such a service. It solves once for all what is paramount problem for each of us—the problem of bread and butter.One has not to go face life with risk or uncertainty as to success or failure. But for a man of my temperament who has been feeding on ideas which might be called eccentric—the line of least resistance is not the best to follow. Life loses half its interest if there is no struggle—if there are no risks to be taken. The uncertainties of life are not appalling to one who has not, at heart, worldly ambitions. Moreover , it is not possible to serve one's country in the best and fullest manner if one is chained to the Civil Service . In short , national and spiritual aspirations are not compatible with obedience to Civil Service Examinations.
(In a letter to his elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose on 22 September 1920, as quoted in Life and times of Subhas Chandra Bose, as told in his own words (1978) by himself, p. 83)
• The slogan coined by him in early 1939 was – "Britain's difficulty is India's opportunity".
(S.R.Goel, GENESIS AND GROWTH OF NEHRUISM ,Vol I)
Quotes about Bose
• "My direct question to Attlee was that since Gandhi's Quit India movement had tapered off quite some time ago and in 1947 no such new compelling situation had arisen that would necessitate a hasty British departure, why did they had to leave?" "In his reply Attlee cited several reasons, the principal among them being the erosion of loyalty to the British crown among the Indian army and Navy personnel as a result of the military activities of Netaji."
(Clement Attlee, Justice PB Chakraborthy. 1956. Conversation first published by the Institute of Historical Review by author Ranjan Borra in 1982, in his piece on Subhas Chandra Bose, the Indian National Army and the war of India's liberation.)
Bose, Sisir K., and Bose, Sugata (eds), Netaji: Collected Works (Calcutta: Netaji Research Bureau, 1980-2007)
Gordon, Leonard A., Brothers Against the Raj: A Biography of Indian Nationalists Sarat and Subhas Chandra Bose (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990)
Gordon, Leonard A., ‘Bose, Subhas Chandra (1897–1945)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004)
Roy, Dilip Kumar, The Subhas I Knew (Bombay: Nalanda, 1946)
Toye, Hugh, The Springing Tiger: A Study of a Revolutionary (London: Cassell, 1959)