Remembering Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose
Subhash Chandra Bose was born to a wealthy and prominent Bengali lawyer Janakinath Bose and Prabhabati on Saturday, the 23rd January 1897 in Cuttack, Orissa India. He was the sixth son and ninth child. His father was from the Boses of Mahinagar and mother Prabhabati from the Dutts of Hatkhola. Bose in his autobiography, “The Indian Pilgrim” describes that though he did not know much of what ‘want and poverty’ meant which helped him from selfishness and greed. He also mentioned that he was not pampered, as there was not much of a luxury and lavishness in their home.
Bose was a very prominent freedom fighter of Indian freedom struggle and is lovingly referred to as Netaji. He was a man of vision who would not compromise for half free India but full-fledged free India. A man who would not accept Indians as inferior than any other race but an equal with any other race or people.A man who would never be ashamed to be called an Indian rather always proud to be one. His strong personality was attributed to his deep-rooted belief that, Indian has a glorious past and a bright future as a nation, as civilisation, as a culture.
Though he could not gain as much credit for Indian Independence as that of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru for various reasons, Netaji is no less than any of them. In fact he was the one who founded the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) to overthrow the British Empire from India. His vision for Free India is that of a unified India regardless of religious faith, castes, rich or poor and best portrayed when he said, “By freedom I mean all round freedom, i.e., freedom for the individual as well as for the society, for the rich as well as for the poor, for all individuals as well as for all classes. This freedom implies not only emancipation from political bondage but equitable distribution of wealth, abolition of caste barriers and social inequities, and destruction of communalism and religious intolerance.
Bose was a natural leader with staunch nationalistic sentiments eventually becoming very famous and well known even in his college days as described by Suniti Kumar Chatterji, one of his contemporary students in college days. He was also known for his openness to ideas; his prompt advocacy of what he thought was right, and his solicitude for the unity and welfare of India as a whole from north to south and east to west as one. He was a man of vision who not only focused on the present but saw the future well ahead of time and could not think of India being ruled by the British people, earning a livelihood from them, colonised by them. From one of his sayings we can see that he believed that India should not forget her glories past as she has her own culture which is unique and must continue to develop along her own distinctive channels. He also strongly believed that in philosophy, literature, art and science, India have something new to give to the world which the world eagerly awaits.
He was such an optimistic person that he did not let his failures and adversaries take the good part of him but rather looked forward to brighter and joyous day. He said, “There is nothing that lures me more than a life of adventure away from the beaten track and in search of the unknown. In this life there may be suffering, but there is joy as well; there maybe darkness, but there are also hours of dawn. To this path I call my countrymen.” He probably was one of the most zealous national leaders of his time for free India. It is quite apparent that he dwelt in the present with futuristic goal in mind as stated by him, “We can no longer live in an isolated corner of the world. Free India will have to fight her modern enemies with modern methods, both in the economic and political spheres. The days of the bullock cart are gone and gone forever. The free world must prepare itself for any eventuality as long as the whole world does accept, wholeheartedly the policy of disarmament” (The 6TH Netaji Subhash Commemorative Souvenir).
He was probably one of the few during his time that recognised the importance of women’s role in the development of the nation. He, we believe was a man who did not only talk about equality but showed through his action especially to the womenfolk’s in terms of giving equal opportunity for them and motivated the women right from his own family circle. He would encourage the womenfolk’s not to compromise with their ability and talents but to go beyond their own small box. One get’s a better picture of his recognition for women from his words and write up’s and one such can be seen from his letter to his niece Gita, “The lives of women are no less valuable than the lives of men and the purpose of the lives of women do not merely consist in cooking and having children. Women can also have a life of fulfilment if they can accept an ideal and follow it. If you can do that, then I shall be really happy and there will be full justification of your birth as human being” (Leonard A. Gordon, 2012).
As Dr. Leonard A. Gordon puts it in a beautiful way that his recognition for womenfolk’s can be seen through the formation of Rani of Jhansi Regiment of INA and the appointment of Minister for Women’s affairs in his cabinet of provincial government of Azad Hind. He challenged and encouraged the regiment during the opening ceremony of the training camp in Singapore on 22nd October 1943 by saying, “Sisters and brothers-the opening of Rani of Jhansi regiment Training camp… is a very important landmark in the progress of our movement in East Asia. Ours is nor merely political movement …it is only in the fitness of things that there should be a stir of New Life among our womenfolk.”
Bose struggled both internally and externally but never gave up on his vision to Free Indians from the British Raj. When he escaped from his Calcutta residence in disguise on the night of 17th January 1941, though closely watched made his way through to Kabul where the Italian embassy granted him the passport in the name of ‘Signor OrlandoMassota’. He came in contact with Stalin of Soviet Union who sent him to Berlin to meet Hitler and discuss his vision with him. At Berlin his fervent anti-British views won him an audience with Hitler’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop to allow him to transform few thousand Indian prisoners-of-war, who while fighting for the British in North Africa were captured by the Germans, into loyal troops of Germany’s army. However, when Hitler turned against Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Bose became sceptical of the Nazis and asked to be allowed to travel to Japan which was long admired by Indian nationalists ever since Japan had emerged as a strong, independent, non-Western country. Hitler, the German leader agreed to Bose’s plan, and in early 1943, Bose travelled by submarine halfway around the world to imperial Japan ending his three years stay in Germany (Thomas Lamont ).
On 16 May 1943, Netaji landed in Tokyo and from 17 May onwards, he met Japanese Army and Navy Chiefs-of-Staff, Navy Minister and Foreign Minister in rapid succession. Japanese Prime Minister Tojo granted Netaji an interview on 10 June 1943 where he was impressed with Netaji’s personality that he offered to meet him again after four days. It is worth mentioning that on 14, June 1943, Tojo was deeply impressed by Netaji’s intellectual grasp of the war situation and leadership capability. Two days later, on 16 June1943, Netaji was invited to visit the Diet where Tojo surprised him with his historic declaration on India: “We are indignant about the fact that India is still under the ruthless suppression of Britain and are in full sympathy with her desperate struggle for independence. We are determined to extend all possible assistance to the cause of India’s independence. It is our belief that the day is not far off when India will enjoy freedom and prosperity after winning independence”. Tojo further added “India for Indians” (www.missionnetaji.org ).
On 27 June 1943, Netaji accompanied by RasBihari Bose arrived at Singapore from Tokyo. It was here where he took the leadership of Indian Independence league as the president from RasBihari Bose and the command of INA. Bose boldly declared to his troops, “DilliChalo” (“On to Delhi”) and offered Indian nationalists a rousing new slogan, “Give me blood, and I will give you freedom.” Indians, who throughout the subcontinent were chaffing under increased British repression and economic exploitation, welcomed news of Bose and the INA.
By 1944, Bose was already in the Indian soil with his mighty INA and allied Japanese force crossing through Homalin, capturing the British outpost at Jesami. Bose than travelled towards Phek towards Kohima camping at Ruzazho Village, which is the first known administrative camp in the Indian soil till date. From here he went on to oversee the great battle of Kohima at Cesezu village making his forays to Kigwema and the search is still on how he exited Naga Hills to Mynmar. As we celebrate Netaji’sbirthday it is worth mentioning here that the history of India would have a different story had it not been for his bold and courageous steps to fight against the mighty British with determination. Hence, he needs to be given due honour and respect for his sacrifice for this Nation.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Memorial Development Society Nagaland.