Subhash Chandra Bose

India has given birth to many great icons. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is one of them. Born on January 23,1897 in a Bengali family settled at Cuttack in Orissa, he was the ninth child in a big family. His father was Rai Bahadur Janakinath Bose, a prominent lawyer of Cuttack and his mother was Prabhavati Bose. January 23 is observed as the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose throughout the country. After completing his early studies at European Protestant Collegiate School in Cuttack, he came to Calcutta to study at Presidency College in1913. Once he beat his English teacher for calling Indians inferior. As  a  result, he was expelled from the college. This incident proved a turning point in his life. After passing his B.A. examination, he went to England for higher studies. He passed the ICS examination in 1920 obtaining 4th position. But he soon resigned his job and threw himself into the freedom movement of the country. He was a true patriot. Above all he was bold and fearless. He never bowed down to the British Government. At the same time he never compromised with it. The British Government in India was afraid of him. He was arrested without any charge on October 25,1924. He was sent to Alipore jail, Calcutta and on January 25,1925 transferred to Mandalay, Burma. He was released in May, 1927 due to his ill health. On return to Calcutta, he was elected President of  the Bengal Congress Committee in October, 1927.

He never agreed with Gandhi’s policies and programmes. Yet he took part in the Non-Cooperation  Movement. But he bitterly criticised him when he withdrew the movement in 1922. Similarly he participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement of 1930. But when Gandhiji withdrew this agitation in 1933, he again vehemently criticised him. He also criticised Gandhi’s hostility to modern technology. He declared:" We have to live in the present and to adapt ourselves to modern conditions. The days of the bullock cart are gone forever. He added :”Free India must arm herself for any eventuality as long as the whole world does not accept wholeheartedly the policy of disarmament”.

By 1937, Subhash Chandra Bose had attained good reputation throughout India. He gave a new life to the Congress. As a  result of his popularity, he was elected President of the Congress in 1938. He played a leading role in forming national planning, unity and organisation of the masses for the national struggle. We may guess his domination and reputation that in the election to the President of the Congress held in January, 1939, Gandhiji supported Pattabhi Sitaramayya against Bose. Bose was, however, elected President of the Congress by a  vast majority of delegates who supported his views.    It should be noted that the Gandhi wing began to oppose Subhash and raise voice against his presidentship. Consequently Subhash could not tolerate to be a puppet president and resigned from the presidentship of the Congress on April 29,1939. Later on Subhash  laid the foundation of a radical and progressive party within the Congress. This party came to be known as the Forward Bloc.    Like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru,Subhash was a strong supporter of socialist ideas. He suggested different measures to establish a socialist society.

(i) He suggested the abolition of Zamindari to end the exploitation of the peasants.

(ii) He urged the government to reduce the land revenue and make proper arrangement  for rural loan.

(iii) He took part in the foundation of All India Trade Union Congress along with Jawaharlal Nehru to press the government for the demands of  the  worker.

D.N. Kundra says :”Because of Subhash ‘s national zeal and revolutionary ideas, the British Government interned him in his own  house at Calcutta in January 1941. He escaped from India in March 1941 and went to Russia for help. But when Russia joined the Allies, he went to Germany. In February, 1943, he left for Japan to organise an armed struggle against the English with the help of the Japanese. In Singapore, he organised the Azad Hind Fauj (the Indian National Army or I.N.A.) for the freedom of his country. It was helped by Ras Behari Bose,an old revolutionary. He had already organised the Indian Independence League to attain the complete and immediate independence of India. Likewese, the Indian National Army had already been formally established in September,1942 with Mohan Singh acting as its first Commander -in-Chief. After taking the charge Subhash Chandra became the President of the Indian Independence League as well as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Army. The I.N.A. was joined in large numbers by the Indians living in South East Asia and by the Indian soldiers and officers captured by the Japanese forces in Burma, Malaya and Singapore. He was called Netaji by the Soldiers. He gave the call of the soldiers, "Give me blood and I shall give you freedom." His battle- cry was “Dilli Chalo”. He set up Recruitment and training Departments as well. Training camps were opened for men and women. He also founded the Provisional Government of Free India at Singapore in October 1943. The Government was recognised by nine world powers including Germany, Italy, Japan, and Burma.Thereafter, he started his military campaign against the English. The Japanese handed over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to Netaji. He renamed them as’ Shahid’ and ‘Swaraj’ Islands respectively. Thus, he acquired the first stretch of territory  in free India”.

Former Chief Justice B.P. Chakrabarty of Calcutta High Court has rightly said” :When the new version of the history of the Twentieth Century India, and especially the episode of the countury’s unique struggle for independence comes to be written, it will no doubt single out but one person who made the most significant and outstading contribution among all his compatriots toward the emancipation of his motherland from the shackles of an alien bondage. During World War II this man strode across two continents like a colossus, and the footstep of his army of liberation reverberated through the forest and plains of Europe and the jungles and mountains of Asia. His armed assaults shook the very foundations of the British Empire. His name  was Subhash Chandra Bose”. In a nutshell, Subhash is the glory and pride of India. His life is a source of inspiration for us. His selfless service and sacrifice for the freedom struggle of our country can never be ignored. There  is much confusion and controversy surrounding the death of  Bose. But it is supposed that he was killed in an aeroplane crash on his way to Tokyo on 18th August,1945.

Obaidur Rahman Nadwi
Lecturer, Nadwa College, Lucknow