Azad Hind

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This article is about the organisation formed during World War II in Singapore. For the Provisional Government formed by Raja Mahendra Pratap during World War I, see Provisional Government of India.
Provisional Government of Free India
आर्ज़ी हुक़ूमत-ए-आज़ाद हिन्द
عارضی حکومت‌ِ آزاد ہند
Ārzī Hukūmat-e-Āzād Hind
Provisional government supported by Japan

1943–1945
Flag Insignia
Anthem
Subh Sukh Chain
Light green: Territory claimed.
Dark green: Territory controlled (with Japanese assistance).
Capital Port Blair (provisional)
Capital-in-exile Rangoon
Singapore
Languages Hindustani
Government Provisional government
Head of State
 -  1943–1945 Subhas Chandra Bose
Prime Minister
 -  1943–1945 Subhas Chandra Bose
Historical era World War II
 -  Established 21 October 1943
 -  Disestablished 18 August 1945
Currency Rupee

Ārzī Hukūmat-e-Āzād Hind (Hindi: आर्ज़ी हुक़ूमत-ए-आज़ाद हिन्द; Urdu: عارضی حکومت‌ِ آزاد ہند‎; Nepali: आजाद हिन्द), the Provisional Government of Free India, or, more simply, Free India[1][2] (Azad Hind), was an Indian provisional government established in Singapore in 1943 and was supported by Japan.

It was a part of a political movement originating in the 1940s outside of India with the purpose of allying with Axis powers to free India from British Rule. Established by Indian nationalists-in-exile during the latter part of the Second World War in Singapore with monetary, military and political assistance from Imperial Japan, to fight against British Rule in India.[3] After completing the task of reorganising the Indian Independence League and launching preparations for revolutionising the army, and after conducting a successful campaign to mobilise the support of the Indian communities throughout Southeast Asia—a phase which lasted from July to October—Netaji turned toward formation of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind (Free India) in Germany. This had to be done before the army could be sent for action in the battlefield. Founded on 21 October 1943, the government was inspired by the concepts of Subhas Chandra Bose who was also the leader of the government and the Head of State of this Provisional Indian Government in Exile. The government proclaimed authority over Indian civilian and military personnel in Southeast Asian British colonial territory and prospective authority over Indian territory to fall to the Japanese forces and the Indian National Army during the Japanese thrust towards India during the Second World War.[4] The government of Azad Hind had its own currency, court and civil code, and in the eyes of some Indians its existence gave a greater legitimacy to the independence struggle against the British.[5][6][7]

However, while it possessed all the nominal requisites of a legitimate government, it lacked large and definite areas of sovereign territory until Japan gave it nominal authority of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1943 and the occupation of parts of Manipur and Nagaland. Japanese officials made all the decisions and throughout its existence, it was entirely dependent on Japanese support.[8]

Immediately after the formation of the government-in-exile, Azad Hind declared war against the Anglo-American allied forces on the Indo-Burma Front.[9] Its army, the "Azad Hind Fauj", (Indian National Army or the INA) went into action against the British Indian Army and the allied forces as part of the Imperial Japanese Army in the Imphal-Kohima sector. The INA had its first major engagement at the battle of Imphal where, under the command of the Japanese Fifteenth Army, it breached the British defences in Kohima, reaching the salient of Moirang before suffering a catastrophic defeat as the Allied forces held, and Allied air dominance and compromised supply lines forced both the Japanese and the INA to retreat.[10]

The existence of Azad Hind was essentially coterminous with the existence of the Indian National Army. While the government itself continued until the civil administration of the Andaman Islands was returned to the jurisdiction of the British towards the end of the war, the limited power of Azad Hind was effectively ended with the surrender of the last major contingent of INA troops in Rangoon. The supposed death of Bose is seen as the end of the entire Azad Hind Movement.

Some historians contend that the Azad Hind was a free and independent government.[11]

The legacy of Azad Hind is, however, open to judgment. After the war, the Raj observed with alarm the transformation of the perception of Azad Hind from traitors and collaborators to "the greatest among the patriots".[12][13] Given the tide of militant nationalism that swept through India and the resentment and revolts it inspired, it is arguable that its overarching aim, to foster public resentment and revolts within the Indian forces of the British Indian Army to overthrow the Raj, was ultimately successful.[14]

Establishment[edit]

National celebration at the founding of the Provisional National Indian government at the Free India Center, Berlin, with Secretary of State Wilhelm Keppler speaking, on 16 November 1943

The direct origins of Azad Hind can be linked to two conferences of Indian expatriates from across Southeast Asia, the first of which was held in Tokyo in March 1942. At this conference, convened by Rash Behari Bose, an Indian expatriate living in Japan, the Indian Independence League was established as the first move towards an independent Indian state politically aligned with the Empire of Japan. Rash also moved to create a sort of liberation army that would assist in driving the British from India – this force would later become the Indian National Army. The second conference, held later that year in Bangkok, invited Subhas Chandra Bose to participate in the leadership of the League. Bose was living in Germany at the time and made the trip to Japan via submarine.

Rash Behari Bose, who was already ageing by the time the League was founded, struggled to keep the League organised and failed to secure resources for the establishment of the Indian National Army. He was replaced as president of the Indian Independence League by Subhas Chandra Bose; there is some controversy as to whether he stepped down of his own volition or by pressure from the Japanese who needed a more energetic and focused presence leading the Indian nationalists.[citation needed]

Bose arrived in Tokyo on 13 June 1943, and declared his intent to make an assault against the eastern provinces of India in an attempt to oust the British from control of the subcontinent. Bose arrived in Singapore on 2 July, and in October 1943 formally announced the establishment of the Provisional Government of Free India. In defining the tasks of this new political establishment, Subhas declared: “It will be the task of the Provisional Government to launch and conduct the struggle that will bring about the expulsion of the British and their allies from the soil of India.”[15] Bose, taking formal command of the demoralised and undermanned Indian National Army from Rash Bose, turned it into a professional army with the help of the Japanese. He recruited Indian civilians living in Japanese-occupied territories of South-east Asia, and incorporated vast numbers of Indian POWs from British forces in Singapore, Malaya and Hong Kong to man the brigades of the INA.

Ministers[edit]

The Provisional Government of Free India consisted of a Cabinet headed by Subhas Chandra Bose as the Head of the State, The Prime Minister and the Minister for War and Foreign Affairs.

Captain Doctor Lakshmi Swaminathan (later married as Lakshmi Sehgal) was the Minister in Charge of Women's Organization. She held this position over and above her command of the Rani Jhansi Regiment, a brigade of women soldiers fighting for the Indian National Army. For a regular Asian army, this women's regiment was quite visionary; it was the first of its kind established on the continent. Dr. Lakshmi was one of the most popular and prosperous gynaecologists in Singapore before she gave up her fabulous practice to lead the troops of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment.

Other public administration ministers of the Provisional Government of Free India included:

  • Mr. S. A. Ayer - the Minister of Broadcasting and Publicity
  • Lt. Col. A. C. Chatterji - the Minister of Finance

The Indian National Army was represented by Armed Forces ministers, including:

The Provisional Government was also constituted and administered by a number of Secretaries and Advisors to Subhas Chandra Bose, including:

  • A.N. Sahay - Secretary
  • Karim Ghani
  • Debnath Das
  • D.M. Khan
  • A. Yellapa
  • J. Thivy
  • Sirdar Isher Singh
  • A. N. Sarkar - the government's official Legal Advisor

All of these Secretaries and Advisory officials held Ministerial rank in the Provisional Government. The extent of the Provisional Government's day-to-day management of affairs for Azad Hind is not entirely well-documented, so their specific functions as government officials for the state outside of their positions as support ministers for Subhas Chandra Bose is not entirely certain.

Recognition[edit]

Azad Hind was recognised as a legitimate state by only a small number of countries, limited almost solely to Axis powers and their affiliate states and puppet regimes. Azad Hind had diplomatic relations with nine countries: Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan, Fascist Italy, the Independent State of Croatia, Wang Jingwei's Government in Nanjing, Thailand, the State of Burma, Manchukuo and the Second Philippine Republic. On the declaration of its formation in Singapore the Taoiseach of Ireland, Éamon de Valera, sent a note of congratulations to Bose. Vichy France, however, although being an Axis collaborator, never gave formal political recognition to Azad Hind. This government participated as an observer in the Greater East Asia Conference in November 1943.

Government administration and World War II[edit]

The same night that Bose declared the existence of Azad Hind, the government took action to declare war against the United States and Britain. The government consisted of a Cabinet ministry acting as an advisory board to Subhas Bose, who was given the title "Netaji" (translating roughly to "leader"[citation needed]) and was no doubt the dominant figure in the Provisional Government. He exercised virtual authoritarian control over the government[citation needed] and the army.[citation needed] With regards to the government's first issuances of war declarations, the "Cabinet had not been unanimous about the inclusion of the U.S.A. Bose had shown impatience and displeasure – there was never any question then or later of his absolute authority: the Cabinet had no responsibility and could only tender advice..."[citation needed]

At the end of October 1943, Bose flew to Tokyo to participate in the Greater East Asia Conference as an observer to Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere; it could not function as a delegate because India had technically fallen outside the jurisdiction of Japan's definition of "Greater East Asia", but Bose gave speeches in opposition to Western colonialism and imperialism at the conference. By the end of the conference, Azad Hind had been given a limited form of governmental jurisdiction over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which had been captured by the Imperial Japanese Navy early on in the war.

Unreleased postage stamps of the Azad Hind Government.

Once under the jurisdiction of Azad Hind, the islands formed the government's first claims to territory. The islands themselves were renamed "Shaheed" and "Swaraj", meaning "martyr" and "self-rule" respectively. Bose placed the islands under the governorship of Lt Col A. D Loganathan,[18] and had limited involvement with the official governorship of the territory, instead involving himself in plans to expand the Indian National Army, ensure adequate men and materiel, and formulate its course of actions and the administrations and relations of the Indian population in south east Asia and determining Japanese designs in India and his provisional government. In theory the government itself had the power to levy taxes on the local populace, and to make and enforce laws: in practice they were enforced by the police force under Japanese control.[citation needed] Indians were willing to pay these taxes at first, but became less inclined to do so towards the end of the war when the Provisional Government enacted legislation for higher war-time taxes to fund the INA. During his interrogation after the war Loganathan admitted that he had only had full control over the islands' vestigial education department, as the Japanese had retained full control over the police force, and in protest he had refused to accept responsibility for any other areas of Government. He was powerless to prevent the Homfreyganj massacre of the 30 January 1944, where forty-four Indian civilians were shot by the Japanese on suspicion of spying. Many of them were members of the Indian Independence League, whose leader in Port Blair, Dr. Diwan Singh, had already been tortured to death in the Cellular Jail after doing his best to protect the islanders from Japanese atrocities during the first two years of the occupation.[19]

Azad Hind's military forces in the form of the INA saw some successes against the British, and moved with the Japanese army to lay siege to the town of Imphal in eastern India. Plans to march towards Delhi,[citation needed] gaining support and fresh recruits along the way, stalled both with the onset of monsoon season and the failure to capture Imphal. British bombing seriously reduced morale, and the Japanese along with the INA forces began their withdrawal from India.

In addition to these setbacks, the INA was faced with a formidable challenge when the troops were left to defend Rangoon[citation needed] without the assistance of the Japanese in the winter of 1944–1945. Loganathan was relocated from the Andaman Islands to act as field commander. With the INA garrison about 6,000 strong, he manned the Burmese capital in the absence of any other police force or troops during the period between the departure of the Japanese and the arrival of the British. He was successful in maintaining law and order to the extent that there was not a single case of dacoity or of loot during the period from 24 April to 4 May 1945.

Indian areas under the Administration of the Provisional Government[edit]

Almost all of the territory of the Provisional Government lay in the Andaman Islands, although the Provisional Government was allowed some authority over Indian enclaves in Japanese-occupied territories. Provisional Government civil authority was never enacted in areas occupied by the INA; instead, Japanese military authority prevailed and responsibility for administration of occupied areas of India was shared between the Japanese and the Indian forces.

The Defeat of the INA and the Collapse of the Provisional Government[edit]

Left to defend[citation needed] Rangoon from the British advance without support from the Japanese, the INA was soundly defeated. Bose had fled Burma and returned to Singapore before the fall of Rangoon; the government Azad Hind had established on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands collapsed when the island garrisons of Japanese and Indian troops were defeated by British troops and the islands themselves retaken. Allegedly Bose himself was killed in a plane crash departing from Taiwan attempting to escape to Russia. The Provisional Government of Free India ceased to exist with the deaths of the Axis, the INA, and Bose in 1945.

The troops who manned the brigades of the Indian National Army were taken as prisoners of war by the British. A number of these prisoners were brought to India and tried by British courts for treason, including a number of high-ranking officers such as Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon. The defence of these individuals from prosecution by the British became a central point of contention between the British Raj and the Indian Independence Movement in the post-war years.

Relations with Japan and View of Azad Hind as Axis Collaborator[edit]

Bose with Gandhi in 1938

Subhas Chandra Bose, while an ally of Japan throughout the war, has become a controversial figure for his stances against imperialism which would run in opposition against what was generally recognised as Japanese imperialism in Asia during World War II. Bose himself opposed all manner of such colonial practices, but saw Britain as hypocritical in "fighting a war for democracy" but refusing to extend the same respect for democracy and equal rights to their colonial subjects in India. Bose opposed British racial policy and declared working for the abolition of racial discrimination with Burmese, Japanese and other Asians. Criticism of Bose remains, with some accusing him of fascism, citing his strict control over the Provisional Government as evidence of this; some accused him of wanting to establish a totalitarian state in India with the blessings of the Axis powers. It is inaccurate to term Bose solely as a fascist. But he believed that parliamentary democracy was unsuitable for India immediately after independence, and that a centrally organised, self-sufficient, semi-socialist India under the firm control of a single party was the best course for Indian government. Some of his ideas would help shape Indian governmental policy in the aftermath of the country's independence from Britain.

The fact that Azad Hind was aligned politically with Japan may have little to do with explicit agreement and support for Japanese policy in Asia, and more with what Bose saw as a pragmatic approach to Indian independence. Disillusioned with Gandhi's philosophies of non-violence, Bose was clearly of the camp that supported exploiting British weakness to gain Indian independence. Throughout the existence of Azad Hind, Bose sought to distance himself from Japanese collaboration and become more self-sufficient, but found this difficult since the existence of Azad Hind as a governmental entity had only come about with the support of the Japanese, on whom the government and army of Azad Hind were entirely dependent. Bose, however, remains a hero in present-day India and is remembered as a man who fought fiercely for Indian independence. [1]

Although Japanese troops saw much of the combat in India against the British, the INA was certainly by itself an effective combat force,[citation needed] having faced British and allied troops and making their mark in the Battle of Imphal. On 18 April 1944 the suicide squads led by Col. Shaukat Malik broke through the British defence and captured Moirang in Manipur. The Azad Hind administration took control of this independent Indian territory.[20] Following Moirang, the advancing INA breached the Kohima road, posing a threat to the British positions in both Silchar and Kohima. Col. Gulzara Singh's column had penetrated 250 miles into India. The Azad Brigade advanced, by outflanking the Anglo-American positions. However, INA's most serious, and ultimately fatal, limitations were the reliance on Japanese logistics and supplies and the total air-dominance of the allies, -which, along with a supply line deluged by torrential rain, frustrated the INA's and the Japanese bid to take Imphal.[citation needed]

With the siege of Imphal failing, the Japanese began to shift priority for resource allocation from South Asia to the Pacific, where they were fighting United States troops advancing from island to island against Japanese holdings there. When it had become clear that Bose's plans to advance to Delhi from the borders of Burma would never materialise due to the defeat of the INA at Imphal and the halt of Japanese armies by British aerial and later naval superiority in the region, Japanese support for Azad Hind declined.

Contributions to Indian Independence[edit]

The true judgement of success or failure of the movement remains open to historians. However, the true extent to which the INA's activities influenced the decision to leave India is mirrored by the views of Clement Attlee, the British prime minister at the time of India's Independence. Attlee cites several reasons, the most important of which were the INA activities of Subhas Chandra Bose, which weakened the very foundation of the British Empire in India, and the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny which made the British realise that the support of the Indian armed forces could no longer be relied upon.[21]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Rudolph, Lloyd I.; Hoeber Rudolph, Susanne (2008). Explaining Indian Democracy: The realm of institutions : state formation and institutional change. Oxford University Press; Original from: University of California Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-19-569365-2. 
  2. ^ Ghose, Sankar (1975). Political ideas and movements in India. Allied Publishers; Original from: University of Michigan Press. p. 136. 
  3. ^ Toye, Hugh (1959). The Springing Tiger: A Study of the Indian National Army and of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Allied Publishers. p. 187. ISBN 8184243928. 
  4. ^ Borra R., Op. Cit.
  5. ^ The INA trial and the Raj. By Harkirat Singh.pp 102–103.Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2003. ISBN 81-269-0316-3
  6. ^ Sarkar 1983, p. 412
  7. ^ From Plassey to partition. By Śekhara Bandyopādhyāẏa.pp428.Orient Blackswan, 2004. ISBN 81-250-2596-0
  8. ^ C. Bayly & T. Harper Forgotten Armies. The Fall of British Asia 1941–45 (London: Allen Lane) 2004 pp323-327
  9. ^ Pandit, HN. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’’ Sterling Publishers, New Delhi, 1988, p.331
  10. ^ Das S. Indian National Army in South East Asia. The Hindustan Times. Special Edition. http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/specials/Netaji/enlisting3.htm. URL Accessed on 13 August 2006.
  11. ^ Chandra Sarkar, Subodh (2008). Notable Indian trials. M.C. Sarkar; Original from: University of Michigan Press. p. 1962. 
  12. ^ Edwardes, Michael, The Last Years of British India, Cleveland, World Pub. Co.,1964, p. 93.

    The Government of India had hoped, by prosecuting members of the INA, to reinforce the morale of the Indian army. It succeeded only in creating unease, in making the soldiers feel slightly ashamed that they themselves had supported the British. If Bose and his men had been on the right side – and all India now confirmed that they were – then Indians in the Indian army must have been on the wrong side. It slowly dawned upon the Government of India that the backbone of the British rule, the Indian army, might now no longer be trustworthy. The ghost of Subhas Bose, like Hamlet’s father, walked the battlements of the Red Fort (where the INA soldiers were being tried), and his suddenly amplified figure overawed the conference that was to lead to independence.

  13. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. Indian National army. After returning to India the veterans of the INA posed a difficult problem for the British government. The British feared that a public trial for treason on the part of the INA members might embolden anti-British sentiment and erupt into widespread protest and violence. URL Accessed on 19 August 2006.
  14. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. Indian National army.
  15. ^ "Indian National Army". Archived from the original on April 23, 2009. 
  16. ^ http://www.netajiliveson.org/pgiinexile.htm
  17. ^ http://a2o.nas.sg/a2o/public/html/online_exhibit/indian_national_army/provi.htm
  18. ^ "The Last Straw That Broke the Back of the British Empire". Archived from the original on June 5, 2003. 
  19. ^ Jayant Dasgupta Japanese in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Red Sun over Black Water (Delhi: Manas Publications) 2002 pp67, 87, 91–5; L.P. Mathur Kala Pani. History of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands with a study of India's Freedom Struggle (Delhi: Eastern Book Corporation) 1985 pp249-51.
  20. ^ The Hindustan Times.http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/specials/Netaji/enlisting9.htm
  21. ^ Majumdar, R.C., Jibanera Smritideepe (Bengali), Calcutta, General Printers and Publishers, 1978, pp. 229–230

External links[edit]