23rd January is Netaji’s Jayanti. He was born on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack, Orissa, One of the 14 children of a successful lawyer, Janakinath Bose, and his wife, Prabhavati Devi. A graduate of Kolkata’s Presidency College, he was subsequently sent by his father to England to prepare for entry into the prestigious Indian Civil Service.
Although he passed his ICS exam with flying colors, he jumped into the freedom struggle. Strongly influenced by Gandhi, Chittaranjan Das and the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, he joined the Indian National Congress and was jailed 11 times by the British between 1920 and 1941.
Netaji’s magnetic appeal aroused the youth of Bharat. For heroes to be made from the modern youth, Netaji’s escape from Bharat to Germany by land and to Japan through sea, strengthening the INA and the subsequent attack on the British army should be a must read for youngsters.
He was the first recognized Head of State of Independent India. The Provisional government of Free India was formed in 1943 and Netaji became Head. In its existence it received recognition from nine governments. They were: Japan, Burma, Croatia, Germany, the Philippines, Nanking China, Manchuto, Italy and Siam (Thailand).
This government was officially proclaimed in Singapore at a mass rally on 21 October 1943 where Netaji was unanimously elected as the Head of the State and the Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army. While taking the oath he said:
In the name of God, I take this sacred oath that to liberate India and the three hundred eighty million of my countrymen. I, Subhash Chandra Bose, will continue the sacred war of freedom till the last breath of my life. I shall remain always a servant of India, and to look after the welfare of three hundred eighty million of Indian brothers and sisters shall be for me my highest duty. Even after winning freedom, I will always be prepared to shed even the last drop of my blood for the preservation of India’s freedom.
The Provisional Government of Free India had five Ministers with Netaji as the Head of the State, Prime Minister and Minister for War and advisers representing the Indian communities in East Asia. The first momentous decision which the new government took was its declaration of war on Britain and the United States, which was decided on the night of 22-23 October.
The fact that the INA was able to capture Rangoon, Imphal and Andaman and Nicobar islands ( named as Shaheed & Swaraj) against the British army speaks volumes for the raw courage of Netaji. Very few know that the great war cry of ‘Jai Hind’ was given to the nation by Netaji.
The ‘Do or Die’ used by Gandhiji during the Quit India Movement of 1942, was given by Netaji.
Highlighting Bose’s real contribution late R.C. Majumdar writes,
“It seldom falls to the lot of a historian to have his views, differing radically from those generally accepted without demur, confirmed by such an unimpeachable authority. As far back as 1948 I wrote in an article that the contribution made by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose towards the achievement of freedom in 1947 was no less, and perhaps, far more important than that of Mahatma Gandhi…” The ‘unimpeachable authority’ he cited happens to be Clement Attlee, the Prime Minister of Britain at the time of India’s Independence. As this is of fundamental importance, and Majumdar’s conclusion so greatly at variance with conventional history, it is worth placing it on record. (See Volume III, pp. 609-10). When B.P. Chakravarti was acting as Governor of West Bengal, Lord Attlee visited India and stayed as his guest for three days at the Raj Bhavan. Chakravarti asked Attlee about the real grounds for granting Independence to India. Specifically, his question was, when the Quit India movement lay in ruins years before 1947, what was the need for the British to leave in such a hurry. Attlee’s response is most illuminating and important for history. Here is the Governor’s account of what Attlee told him:
“In reply Attlee cited several reasons, the most important were the activities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose which weakened the very foundation of the attachment of the Indian land and naval forces to the British Government. Towards the end, I asked Lord Attlee about the extent to which the British decision to quit India was influenced by Gandhi’s activities. On hearing this question Attlee’s lips widened in a smile of disdain and he uttered, slowly, putting emphasis on each single letter-”mi-ni-mal”.” ( Ref : Three-volume History of the Freedom Movement in India, Also courtesy N.S.Rajaram )
The Navy had already shown its first sign of revolts and it was the fear of mutiny by the Indian armed forces that forced the issue of freedom.
Being a contemporary, it is quite possible that Nehru considered Netaji as a competitor for the PM’s post, but in fact, Netaji had repeatedly and emphatically declared in his public speeches in East Asia that if the INA succeeded in liberating India he would toss over that freedom to the people and retire into spiritual oblivion;
…and yet Govt of Independent India suppressed the facts associated with Netaji and gave credence to his “death theory”.
Moving forward from his famous call” Give me blood, and I shall give you freedom” , we need to deliberate on how to “Live and Work for a stronger Bharat” and expose all the forces that have so far suppressed the history and have degraded the contribution of many of our national heroes like Netaji.