A story of struggle, a story of patriotism, a story of martyrdom, a story of bravery, a story of sacrifice, a story of troubled legacy, a story of freedom fighter and the war he waged upon the enemy, is not just another story of India’s independence but something deeper and heavier as it looks, something unforgettable and something controversial as the times were. This is the story of not just another leader but one of the most respected leaders of India. This is the story of Subhash Chandra Bose and we call him as The Honorific Netaji, the leader of Indian National Force. His words were knives for the enemy, it affected like the poison but his love was heavenly when they talked about his nation, our nation.
Netaji was born as Subhash Chandra Bose to Janakinath Bose and Prabhavati Bose on 23 January, 1897 in Cuttack, former capital of Odisha. Subhash joined the Baptist Mission’s Protestant European School in 1902 where his five older brothers were going and pursuing their early education. In 1909, he joined Ravenshaw Collegiate School in Cuttack when he was Twelve years old and in 1912, he secured second position in the matriculation examination conducted under the auspices of the University of Calcutta. Subhas joined Presidency College, Calcutta in 1913, in February of 1916, he was the alleged mastermind, or at least participated in the incident of beating the hell out of the history professor, E.F. Oaten because before this incident it was claimed by students that Oaten made rude remarks about Indian culture, collared and pushed some student as the result od this was that on 15th of February, some students accosted Oaten on stairways, surrounded him and beat him with sandals and ran away. After the committed inquiry set by administration, Oaten was not able identify his assailants but a college servant had seen Subhash fleeing and testified against him. Bose was then expelled from the college and rusticated from University of Calcutta. His expulsion remained intact until he 1917 and then he was allowed to another college under the permission of Syndicate of University of Calcutta, so he joined Scottish Church College, receiving his B.A. in 1918 in the first class with Honors in philosophy. He then traveled to England and reached London on 20th October, 1919 and readied his application for ICS, he was eager to join college in University of Cambridge, so sought and took help from some Indian students and from the Non-Collegiate Students Board. Subhash entered the register of university on 19th November, 1919 and set for preparation of ICS. In April of 1921, he decided to not to take final examination as he wanted to serve his country but not in chains of civil services and the British. As he was then motivated by the letter of his mother which noted her mother to be in support of Ideology as of Mahatma Gandhi. He sailed for India in June of 1921 and arrived in Bombay on the morning of 16th July, 1921. He was 24 at that time.
He set about arranging a meeting with Gandhi when Gandhi was of 51 and was leading the non-cooperation movement and at the that time Gandhi was also in Bombay and agreed to meet Subash. After a lot of questioning, Bose cleared in his mind that Gandhi was vague and is unclear about his goals and his plans for achieving them were immature. Gandhi sought non-violent means but for Bose all means were acceptable in anti-colonial ends. Even the ends were differed by both of them as Bose sought totalitarian models of governance and Gandhi anathematized this type of governance. Historian Gordon noted “Gandhi, however set Bose on to the leader of Congress and Indian Nationalism in Bengal, C.R. Das and in him Bose found the leader whom he sought”. Das was more flexible than Gandhi was sympathetic for extremism, which influenced idealistic youngsters to Bengal such as Bose. Das launched Bose into Nationalist politics and where Bose worked ambitiously for next 20 years.
Bose started the newspaper “Swaraj”, and took charge of publicity for the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee. Bose was then elected as the President of All India Youth Congress in 1923 and also the State Secretary of Bengal State Congress. He was also the newspaper “Forward”, founded by C.R. Das himself. Bose worked as CEO of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation for Das when the latter was elected mayor of Calcutta in 1924. Bose was arrested in 1925 during the roundup of nationalists in 1925, Bose was arrested and sent to prison in Mandala, where he contracted Tuberculosis. After Bose’s release in 1927, he became general secretory of Indian National Congress and worked with Jawaharlal Nehru for independence. Bose was again got arrested and jailed for civil disobedience in 1930, this time he emerged to become the mayor of Calcutta. In mid-1930’s he toured in Europe, visiting several Indian students and European Politicians such as Benito Mussolini. He also wrote his book on years from 1920 to 1934 of Indian struggle of independence, “THE INDIAN STRUGGLE”. By 1938, Bose had become a leader of national stature and agreed to accept nomination as Congress President. He stood for unqualified Swaraj, including the use of force against the British. This meant a conflict with Gandhi who always opposed Bose’s presidency and then splitting the INC party.
Bose was then arrested for organizing mass protests regarding removal of Black Hole of Calcutta. He was thrown in jail by the British, but was released following a seven-day hunger strike. Bose’s house in Calcutta was kept under surveillance by the CID. Bose’s arrest and subsequent release set the scene of his great escape to Germany through Afghanistan and Soviet Russia. After he finally reached Germany after a long, dangerous and daring journey he was then attached to Special Bureau of India under Adam von trot zu Solz which was responsible for broadcasting on the German-sponsored Azad-Hind Radio. He founded the Free India Center in Berlin and created the Indian Legion who were the captured prisoners of war by Axis forces in North Africa. He was also, however, prepared to invade India via USSR by Nazi Troops, spearheaded by the Azad Hind Legion. But instead, being delighted, Bose was worried as he was left wing admirer of USSR and was saddened upon watching the German tanks rolling over Soviet border and then the retreating German army had left him wondering, that now Germany is no more in position of supporting him in driving British out of India. When he met Hitler in May, 1942, his suspicions of him and his army being used as pawns by Nazi to win propaganda victories than military ones. Bose went upon German U-Boat in February of 1943 and left for Japan. This left the men he had recruited leaderless and demoralized in Germany.
As he was transferred to the I-29 Submarine of Imperial Japan from U-180 of Germans around the Cape of Good Hope, this marked as the only civilian transfer in between two submarines of two navies in World War II. Indian National Army was the brainchild of Imperial Japan and was nothing but a pawn for their war and propaganda tools which was disbanded by Mohan Singh, the captured British Indian Army Captain who was recruited by Pritam Singh Dhillon, President of Bangkok chapter of Indian Independence League. Mohan Singh was the one who came to the conclusion and faith in the theory of INA was being used as a pawn. However, the idea of an independence army was revived with the arrival of Bose in 1943. In July, at a meeting at Singapore Bose was handed the control over it by Rash Behari Bose and then he organized massive support among the expatriate Indian population in South-East Asia, who lent their support by both joining INA as well as financially after the call for sacrifice for the greater cause made by Bose. INA had separate women’s unit named the Rani of Jhansi Unit headed by Captain Lakshmi Swaminathan. Even faced with many reverses by military, Bose maintained the support for Azad Hind Movement. At the rally of Burma, 1944, as a part of his speech, he quoted “Give me blood, I shall give you freedom” which affected the hearts and minds of INA and the its supporters and all the people who were standing behind Bose and gave them courage and motivation to fight the war. Bose also addressed Gandhi as the father of the nation for the first time in Indian history of struggle for independence and asked for his blessings and good wishes for the war he waged upon the enemies of our mother land. Japanese attempts to take the islands of Kohima and Imphal in the Operation U-Go, there resources were depleted which led in defeat of Japanese by the commonwealth army and also inflicted serious losses upon Axis led forces and after this defeat, Bose’s Provisional Government’s Aim of establishing a base in mainland India was lost forever. After the fall of Rangoon, Bose’s government ceased to be an effective political entity, large number of INA troops surrendered and Japan’s surrender at the end of the war led to surrender of remaining INA elements and the war he waged was over with a devastating defeat.
In Taihoku, on 18th August, 1945, at around 2:30 A.M., Bose’s overloaded Japanese bomber took flight and crashed, broke into two and exploded into flames. With everyone else inside dead, only Habibur Rahman, Bose’s Assistant and Bose himself were alive but were stuck and tried their way out of the debris which was in fire and one of them became human torch who was Bose himself as he was soaked in gasoline before attempted escape out of the plane. Bose’s face and head was burned and he was then taken to the Namnon Military Hospital. He was conscious but mostly coherent and went into coma after some time after his treatment had been started and died a few hours later at 9 or 10 P.M. on Saturday, 18 August, 1945 marking the end of the sacrifice of his whole life, his one handed and one-man struggle, his bravery, his daring attempts, his never-ending courage and his story of his life.
One of his most famous quotation goes as “ONE INDIVIDUAL MAY DIE FOR AN IDEA BUT THE IDEA WILL, AFTER HIS DEATH WILL INCARNATE INTO MANY LIVES”.
He is still alive in our hearts and he will be for infinity. JAI HIND.