The history of nations on this globe is replete with accounts of men and women who displayed heroic qualities and were instrumental in accomplishing tasks that brought about big, beneficial changes. The world is privy to nations co-existing peacefully and also nations invading, conquering and plundering other nations. The British rule over the Bharat subcontinent was perhaps the darkest chapter in the nation’s otherwise long and illustrious history. The British, who came to our subcontinent as a trading East India Company in mid 18th century, gradually established their political hold by way of the company planting its feet initially through cunning, deceit and guile and subsequently by usurping smaller states and kingdoms of Bharat. It was a well planned and subtly devised design of imperialist expansion. It was motivated by the priestly catholic class who exhorted its countrymen to conquer the countries of ‘pagans’, establish their sovereignty over them, rule them, plunder them and even convert them to its faith. The yoke of British imperialism extended its stranglehold over many countries in South Asia, East Asia and the Middle East.
But Bharat, the traditionally peace loving nation with sublime culture and with the innate perspective of regarding the entire world as one family, took some time to reconcile itself with the tremendous political shock. Through the middle of 19th century, the British East India Company had subjugated almost half of the geographical territory of Bharat.
The 1857 mutiny of independence in Bharat brought its many states together in fighting the British to overthrow its regime in the areas where they had established their rule. But the mutiny could not succeed due to many factors, notable among which was the black sheep among the elite of this nation, who sided, colluded and collaborated with the British for their own selfish gains. It was these few traitors who sabotaged and paid put to the efforts of our valiant freedom fighters.
Post 1857, the British East Indian Company rule was replaced by the rule of the British monarchy and Bharat became the part of the large British Empire. Thence followed the systemic plunder and economic emasculation of Bharat alongside its cultural distortion through a well crafted set of Acts and laws that set the agenda for decades of colonial depredation. The pious land of Bharat produced in the decades to follow some illustrious men and women whose traits and tasks will be etched in gold in the chronicles of history.
In the year 1897 on the 23rd of January, in the city of Cuttack in Odisha , a son was born to Janakinath Bose and Prabhavati Devi, a son who was to change the tumultuous history of Bharat.
He grew up to be Subhash Chandra Bose—the true hero of Bharat’s freedom struggle. He is popularly called Netaji to this day.
Subhash spent his early years in the elite family of his birth till he was sent to the University of Cambridge for higher studies to prepare himself for the Indian Civil Services Examination. In 1920, he passed that examination with distinction, securing fourth rank overall and was at the threshold of an elite professional career.
But Subhash was cut out by providence for higher and subliminal tasks. In 1921, he read about the turmoil in Bharat because of the nationalistic freedom movement. He could not hold himself and returned to Bharat to participate in it after resigning from Indian Civil Service.
He joined the non cooperation movement started by Mahatma Gandhi. Working under the guidance of Gandhi and tutelage of Chittaranjan Das, he became a youth educator and commandant of Bengal Congress volunteers. Bose became General Secretary of the Indian National Congress in 1927 and in 1938 was elected as its President.
But in drawing a nationalistic agenda for Bharat and a plan for achieving its independence , his views clashed with those of Mahatma Gandhi. His views were forward looking, pragmatic and consonant with political reality and Gandhi’s were idealistic but muddled, dreamy and dubious. Subhash’s ideas were imaginative and Gandhi’s hypothetical.
And the inevitable had to happen.
Subhash’s passion and single-minded commitment to his mission was far too stronger than Gandhi’s approach of appeasing communal groups, playing to the gallery of masses and camouflaging his apparent collusion with the British.
Subhash parted ways with the Congress with his Forward Block group in 1939. The year 1939 also saw the outbreak of the Second World War.
Subhash Chandra Bose organised the Indian National Army or Azad Hind Fauz. It was a dedicated band of soldiers drawn largely from the British Indian prisoners of war in Japanese jails , consequent upon Japanese’ victory over the British in south East Asian countries. The Indian National Army was a new version of the Indian Independence League formed earlier by an Indian revolutionary Rash Bihari Bose who had escaped from Bharat and was living in Japan for many years. He had set up the League with the support of Indians living in countries of South East Asia.
Subhash Bose escaped from India in 1941 and went to Germany to work for India’s independence. In 1943, he came to Singapore to rebuild the INA to a 45000 soldier strength. On the historical day of 21st October, 1943, Subhash Bose, who was now being popularly addressed as Netaji, proclaimed the formation of independent India (Azad Hind) in Singapore. Netaji went to the Japanese occupied Andaman and hoisted there the flag of India.
Netaji believed that with the help of Azad Hind Fauz, supported by Its rank enemy Japan and an engineered revolt inside India, the British rule over India could be ended. And right he was !
The Azad Hind Fauz, raising the slogans of ‘Delhi Chalo’ and ‘Jai Hind’ aroused the sentiments of Indians and inspired them inside and outside their country. Netaji rallied together with Indians of all hues—religion, caste and region spread over South East Asia for liberation of India. The colour and complexion of the INA was exquisite; its sentiment high – at an unprecedented level and its appeal awesome.
Netaji charismatically signalled to the soldiers of the British Indian Navy from his platform after the cessation of the Second World War. His magnetic personality pulled hordes of Navy soldiers into a massive revolt and the British went into a panic mode.
The time had come for the British to leave India. And leave they did but not before they had cunningly used their nurtured and nourished Indian stooges to perform the partition of India. With the help of these very stooges, they declared Netaji as a renegade and pronounced him dead in an air crash in Japanese Taiwan on 18th August, 1945.
But the writer is one of those who believe that Netaji’s death was a hoax prolonged by the governments in Bharat for decades on…under the influence of Britain—because circumstantial evidence suggests so. The foremost element of this evidence is the fact that the then British PM Clement Attlee ( British PM 1045-1951) who in 1956 on a visit to Bharat had called Netaji’s INA as the main factor that forced the British to leave India and that the role played by Gandhi’s non cooperation movement was minimal.
Understandably Netaji lived on— in anonymity as a ‘Gumnaami Baba’ sadhu till his death on September 16, 1985 in the UP state of Bharat.
We have to give credit to the Narendra Modi Government for declassifying Netaji files and helping to bring the above stark realities to light.
Unlike many of his narrow, conceited, and selfish political contemporaries, Netaji was truly secular, genuinely and deeply patriotic, visionary, and audacious. But for him, Bharat would not have achieved independence. And with better luck, he would have led united, larger Bharat as its Prime Minister for a long spell and steered this great country to its deserved glory and pride of place among the community of nations.
Our salutations to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on his 127 birth anniversary on January 23, 2024.! His spirit will live on.
A poem devoted to Netaji’s memory:
On this Netaji’s 127th birth anniversary,
Let’s all understand our true friend and adversary.
Let us recount days of our freedom struggle,
Through history let us really juggle.
India’s freedom came thru peaceful means–Is it right?
Or it came thru the INA’s military might?
Friends, it’s the native soldiers of Subhash Chandra Bose,
Who brought us independence thru potential force.
Foreigners can be our adversaries, never friends.
History has always shown such trends.
We need to salute our native soldiers this day.
Our enemies—only our soldiers can confront and slay.
They fight the enemy in air , sea and on sand.
They are the real heroes of our motherland.
Let us also identify our numerous traitors within,
Unfortunately they’re among our kith and kin.
Let us put them to shame and disgrace,
Let’s not forget this duty in our moneymaking rat race.
Let us understand the true basis of freedom;
It comes from unity, strength and divine wisdom.
The secret of unity is collective thought, speech, actions.
This message comes from scriptural texts and sections.
Let us dedicate this day to India’s social unity.
Let us consolidate thoughts and speech and enhance amity.