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Netaji’s contribution to Gandhi led freedom struggle

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Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose
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By Praveen Davar

One hundred and nineteen years ago, on January 23, was born one of India’s most iconic political figures – Subhas Chandra Bose. Forty four years later, in 1941, he left the country never to return, dying in a controversial air crash on August 18, 1945. Many inquiries later, and with ample historical evidence available, the controversy refuses to die down. So obsessed have some people, including a few of Netaji’s relatives, become with the mystery and the INA saga that Netaji’s contribution to the Mahatma Gandhi- led freedom struggle has been completely forgotten.

This article briefly recapitulates the events from the time Bose came under the spell of the Mahatma as a youth leader of the Indian National Congress (INC) till he fell out with him in his second term as President INC culminating in his ‘great escape’, this month, exactly 75 years ago.

By the late 20s Bose, along with Jawaharlal Nehru, had become a youth icon. So popular were they that even revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad, and Jatin Das were inspired by them.

After the death of C.R. Das in 1925, Bose gradually became the most popular leader of Bengal. He represented the rebellious tendency in the state, not just against the British but against the Congress central leadership as well. He was elected mayor of Calcutta (now Kolkata) defeating J.M. Sen Gupta, the nominee of the Congress high command.

While Bose was ideologically opposed to the rightist Vallabhbhai Patel, he was personally and politically close to the latter’s elder brother Vithalbhai Patel, a leader of Swaraj party founded by Motitlal Nehru and C.R. Das. Vithalbhai and Bose had met in a sanatorium in Vienna, where both were convalescing in 1933. When Gandhiji suspended the civil disobedience movement, they issued a strong-worded joint statement, the Patel-Bose manifesto, calling for a new radical leadership of the independence movement.

So fond of Bose had Vithalbhai become that he willed a portion of his fortune to him to be spent for the “political uplift of India and for publicity work on behalf of India’s cause in other countries”. But the will was challenged by Vithalbhai’s sibling, Vallabhbhai Patel as a consequence of which Bose didn’t receive a penny.

Meanwhile, relations between Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru were growing stronger by the day. While Nehru was in prison in India, Bose travelled from Vienna to Badenweiler to be with Kamala Nehru, who was suffering from TB. He remained there till Nehru arrived after being released from prison. When Kamala Nehru died Bose was there to help Nehru and his daughter Indira (then 19) with the funeral arrangements. When Nehru told Bose that he was intending to set up a foreign affairs department in the Congress the latter was mighty pleased as that was entirely in consonance with his own views.

Bose returned to India in May 1936 and was soon arrested. Nehru, who was the Congress president, gave a country wide-call to observe a protest on May 10, 1936 to put pressure on the British authorities to release him.

Nehru’s second consecutive term was coming to end in 1937 and a suitable successor had to be found. As the masses were solidly behind the Nehru-Bose duo, Gandhiji with his foresight, decided to back the candidature of Bose. Though the rightist lobby led by Sardar Patel opposed him tooth and nail, the Mahatma declared that “there really was no one other than Subhas who deserved to become the ‘rashtrapati’ (as the INC president was addressed in those days).

The first term of Bose was a smooth affair with many activities aimed at setting up goals to see that “everybody – man, woman and child – is better clothed, better educated and has sufficient leisure for recreation and cultural activity”. Though Bose reassured Gandhians that he firmly believed in encouraging cottage industries, he felt, like Nehru, the need to embrace the idea of heavy industrialization. Nehru was away to Europe in 1938 but Bose wanted him back to take over as the chairman of the National Planning Committee, he proposed to set up for socio-economic reconstruction of the country when it became free.

In envisioning the future of India, both Nehru and Bose placed considerable importance on the position of women and sought to initiate measures by which they could be brought into the mainstream of the development process. One of the most comprehensive reports prepared under the aegis of the National Planning Committee was on women and their future in the planned economy of India. Proceeding along the guidelines suggested in the Fundamental Rights Resolution adopted by the Karachi Congress in 1931, the women’s report in the National Planning Committee spelt out in detail the existing social, economic and legal obstacles to the achievement of equal status and opportunity and advocated ameliorative measures, which were surprisingly modern and advanced. While Nehru, as Chairman of the National Planning Committee, was actively involved in its preparation, Bose shared most of its recommendations, without, however, being directly involved because of his preoccupations as Congress president.

The need to forge national unity on the basis of the advances made by scientific progress was a constant preoccupation with Bose. With a restless zeal and inspired by the example of Russia, which in a short while had progressed from “being a country of half-starved peasants to well-clothed industrial workers”, Bose envisaged an India where industrial progress could improve “the standard of living of the people at large”.

However, despite the enormous work he had undertaken in his first term, Bose was opposed for a re-election by the right wing of the Congress comprising Patel, Rajaji, Rajendra Prasad and G.B. Pant. Their choice was Abul Kalam Azad. But the Maulana considered discretion the better part of valour and refused to enter the fray. This pitted Patabhi Sitaramayya of Andhra against Bose. In a keenly fought contest, Bose polled 1,580 votes against Sitaramayya’s 1,375.

The re-election of Bose was a big blow to the right wing of the Congress, which had earlier stated: “Bose’s re-election is held to be harmful to country’s cause.” Mahatma however, admitted to his defeat, but with his characteristic humility, added: “After all, Subhas babu is not an enemy of his country. He has suffered for it.”

All this, and more later, would, however, not heal the wounds and prevent Bose from charting an independent course and, ultimately, sacrificing his life to realize his dream of Azad Hind. (IANS)

(Praveen Davar, a former Indian Army officer, is a member of the National Commission for minorities. The views expressed are personal.)

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10 Must Know Facts About Subhas Chandra Bose

Subhas Chandra Bose was a true legend in every essence and one of the most decorated freedom fighters who ever fought for incredible India.

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Subhas Chandra Bose views on attaining freedom were very much different from other Congress leaders. Wikimedia Commons
Subhas Chandra Bose views on attaining freedom were very much different from other Congress leaders. Wikimedia Commons
  • Subhas Chandra Bose was a true patriot and a man of principle who left no stone unturned to bring independence to India
  • Subhas graduated with Bachelors of Arts from the University of Calcutta
  • Subhas Chandra Bose never complied with the thoughts of Gandhi

NEW DELHI: A true Indian can never forget the very famous slogan of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, “You give me blood, and I’ll give you Freedom”. His words immediately sparked the zeal of patriotism in the hearts of many Indians during the independence struggle. Even today these words are as inspiring as they were at that time. Subhas Chandra Bose was a true patriot and a man of principle who left no stone unturned to bring independence to India.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897, in Orissa, Bengal division. He is considered as one of the most esteemed freedom fighters of India who was the mastermind behind raising the Azad Hind Fauj. This force was created to fight the British people and was the first Indian armed force. Subhas Chandra Bose was a true legend in every essence and one of the most decorated freedom fighters who ever fought for incredible India.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897, in Orissa, Bengal division. Wikimedia Commons
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897, in Orissa, Bengal division. Wikimedia Commons

He was the ninth member of a family of 14. In January 1902, Subhas Chandra Bose joined Protestant European school. Due to his extreme brilliance and skills, Subhas Chandra Bose was admired by his principal. Subhas graduated with Bachelors of Arts from the University of Calcutta. After that, he left India in 1919 and promised his father that he will be taking Indian Civil services examination.

Also Read: 10 Facts You Need To Know About Homi Bhabha

On 19 November 1919, he matriculated from Cambridge and stood fourth overall but he didn’t pursue his job over there as he didn’t want to work under the British. Thereafter, in 1921, he gave up his dream of civil services and returned to India. Two years down the lane, Subhas Chandra Bose was elected as the president of all India youth congress and under the leadership of Chittaranjan Das. During that time only, he was also selected as the CEO of Calcutta Municipal Corporation.

He staged many campaigns against the atrocities of British rule in India and got arrested in a roundup of nationalists. After he got released from the prison, he came in contact with Jawaharlal Nehru and started working for the independence struggle. He even wrote a book named, ‘The Indian Struggle’ which was published in 1935. His book was based on the facts that he witnessed personally and the painful experiences of his fellow freedom fighters.

Related imageAfter he got released from the prison, he came in contact with Jawaharlal Nehru and started working for the independence struggle. Wikimedia Commons
After he got released from the prison, he came in contact with Jawaharlal Nehru and started working for the independence struggle. Wikimedia Commons

He was also elected as the mayor of Calcutta in 1930. He later on accepted for the Nomination of the president of India.

 

Take a look at some of the astonishing facts related to Subhas Chandra Bose.
1. Earlier in his career, Subhas Chandra Bose was the leader of the radical wing of the Indian National Congress in the late 1920s and 1930s. After taking a note of his efforts, he was elected as the Congress President in 1938 and 1939. But due to some differences with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and the Congress high command, he has been expelled from Congress leadership positions in the very same year. Subhas Chandra Bose openly criticized Congress’ foreign and internal policies.

Also Read: 15 Facts To Know About Arnab Goswami and Republic TV

2. Being a hardcore freedom fighter, Subhas Chandra Bose came under direct threat of British government. Between 1921and 1941, he was imprisoned eleven times for his fight for complete independence.
3. Subhas Chandra Bose never complied with the thoughts of Gandhi. He believed that the tactics of non-violence would never be sufficient to secure independence and rather advocated violent resistance to secure the nation.

4. To fuel the spirit of independence, Subhas Chandra Bose visited many countries Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. He requested all the country leaders to allow their alliance for securing India’s independence. It initiated his move at the outset of the Second World War and during that time, most of the nations were building their military might. Finally, with the assistance from Imperial Japan, Subhas Chandra Bose raised Azad Hind Fauj or Indian National Army (INA). Japan offered monetary, political, diplomatic and military assistance to the force. Later, the Azad Hind Fauj was stationed at Andaman and Nicobar Islands and then travelled all the way to Manipur in India.

5. On August 23, 2007, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally visited the Subhas Chandra Bose memorial hall in Kolkata and later met his family members also. Prime Minister Abe quoted, “, “The Japanese are deeply moved by Bose’s strong will to have led the Indian independence movement from British rule.”

Subhas Chandra Bose was elected as the president of all India youth congress and under the leadership of Chittaranjan Das. Wikimedia Commons
Subhas Chandra Bose was elected as the president of all India youth congress and under the leadership of Chittaranjan Das. Wikimedia Commons

6. Subhas Chandra Bose was successful in establishing the Azad Hind Radio station in Germany and thus stoked up the Indian nationalist movement in East Asia.

Also Read: 10 must-know facts about Anand Mahindra

7. Subhas Chandra Bose was very much inspired by Bhagavad Gita and drew a lot of inspiration from it. He was also very much moved by Swami Vivekananda and his teaching on universal brotherhood, his nationalist thoughts and his emphasis on social service and much other reform.

8. Subhas Chandra Bose views on attaining freedom were very much different from other leaders. Congress wanted to gain independence through phases of a dominion status, whereas he stressed upon complete freedom. For his will to fight for his country, he was considered as a true patriot even by some of his rivals. He just wanted freedom for his nation and he didn’t mind going to anyone for assistance.

9. After successfully clearing his Indian Civil Services examination, Subhash Chandra Bose refused to obey the custom of carrying his umbrella while meeting the Governor General at his office. He never tolerated any misbehaviour in his life.

10. Subhash Chandra Bose travelled to Germany while attempting with a daring escape from his house arrest in India. He travelled from Kolkata to Gomo by a car and from there to Peshawar by train. He then went to Kabul and proceeded directly to Germany to seek help from Adolf Hitler for India’s independence. After many attempts, he was able to speak with Hitler.

Subhash Chandra Bose travelled to Germany to seek Adolf Hitler's help. Wikimedia Commons
Subhash Chandra Bose travelled to Germany to seek Adolf Hitler’s help. Wikimedia Commons

Subhas Chandra Bose death still remains a mystery at large. As per the government report, he died in a plane crash on 18 August 1945. But this theory is refuted by many historians and scholars. In the book, “Bose: The Indian Samurai – Netaji and the INA Military Assessment”, Maj Gen G D Bakshi (retd), has pointed out that the above report was made by Japanese intelligence agencies to help Subhas Chandra Bose to make his way to the Soviet Union.

In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the family members of Subhas Chandra Bose and announced the declassification of files related to his life. Later on, 100 secret files were made public by the central government.