Subhas Chandra Bose

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Subhash Chandra Bose, (Bangla: সুভাষ চন্দ্র বসু Shubhash Chôndro Bosh) (January 23, 1897presumably August 18, 1945 [although this is disputed]note), also known as Netaji, was one of the most prominent leaders of the Indian Independence Movement against the British Raj. He formed the Azad Hind Government in exile, and regrouped and led the Indian National Army to battle against the allies in Imphal & Burma during the World War II.

Bose was elected president of the Indian National Congress for two consecutive terms. However, he had to resign from the post in the face of a motion of no-confidence, stemming from ideological conflicts with Mahatma Gandhi. Bose felt that Mahatma Gandhi's tactics of non-violence would never be sufficient to secure India's independence, and advocated violent resistance. He established a separate political party, the All India Forward Bloc and continued to call for the full and immediate independence of India from British rule. His stance did not change with the outbreak of War, which he saw as an opportunity to take advantage of British weakness.

He was imprisoned by the British authorities 11 times. At the outset of World War II, in a daring act of escape from the eyes of the British, he fled from India, and reached Germany by a lengthy and dangerous route. He sought an alliance with the Axis powers with the aim of attacking the British in India from the Northwest.

When this plan was foiled by the Nazi invasion of the USSR being pushed back, he headed for Japan and helped to organise— and later lead— the Indian National Army, put together from Indian prisoners-of-war and plantation workers from Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia, against British forces during the Second World War.

His political views and the alliances he made with Nazi and other militarist regimes opposed to the British Empire have been the cause of arguments among historians and politicians, with some accusing him of Fascism and of Quislingist actions. He is believed to have died on 18 August, 1945 in a plane crash over Taiwan, however, contradicting evidence exists regarding his death in the accident.

Early life

Subhas Chandra Bose was born in 1897 to an affluent family in Cuttack, Orissa. His father, Janakinath Bose, was a public prosecutor who believed in orthodox nationalism, and later became a member of the Bengal Legislative Council. Bose was educated at Ravenshaw Collegiate School, Cuttack, Scottish Church College, Calcutta and Fitzwilliam College at Cambridge University.

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Bose in his youth

In 1920, Bose took the Indian Civil Service entrance examination and was placed fourth with highest marks in English. However, he resigned from the prestigious Indian Civil Service in April 1921 despite his high ranking in the merit list, and went on to become an active member of India's independence movement. He joined the Indian National Congress, and was particularly active in its youth wing.

Still, Bose's ideals did not match those of Mahatma Gandhi's belief in non-violence. He therefore returned to Calcutta to work under Chittaranjan Das, the Bengali freedom fighter and co-founder (with Motilal Nehru) of the Swaraj Party.

In 1921, Bose organised a boycott of the celebrations to mark the visit of the Prince of Wales to India, which led to his imprisonment. In April 1924, Bose was elected to the post of Chief Executive Officer of the newly constituted Calcutta Corporation, where C. R. Das was mayor. Though Subhas was entitled to Rs 3000/month as salary but he decided to take only half of that amount, i.e. Rs 1500/month - still a very generous amount, considering that a schoolteacher earned less than Rs 50/month in those days.

In October that year, Bose was arrested on suspicion of terrorism. At first, he was kept in Alipore Jail and later he was exiled to Mandalay in Burma (where earlier Tilak had spent 6 years in prison). On January 23, 1930, Bose was once again arrested for leading an "independence procession", protesting against British rule in India. After his release from jail on September 25, he was elected as the Mayor of the City of Calcutta.

Over a span of 20 years, Bose was incarcerated eleven times by the British, either in India or in Rangoon. He spent many years in various capacities as the Chief Executive Officer of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, and later as Mayor himself. Along with Jawaharlal Nehru, he was one of the radical left wing leaders of the Congress Party. During the mid 1930s he was exiled by the British from India to Europe, where he championed India's cause and aspiration for self-rule before gatherings and conferences.

After his father's death, the British authorities allowed him to land at Calcutta's airport only for the religious rites, which would be followed by his swift departure. He traveled extensively in India and in Europe before stating his political opposition to Gandhi. During his stay in Europe from 1933 to 1936, he met several European leaders and thinkers, including Benito Mussolini, Edvard Beneš, Karl Seitz, Eamon de Valera, Romain Rolland and Alfred Rosenberg. He came to believe that India could achieve political freedom only if it had political, military and diplomatic support from outside, and that an independent nation necessitated the creation of a national army to secure its sovereignty. Subhash Chandra Bose married Emilie Schenkl, an Austrian born national, who was his secretary, in 1937. According to Schenkl, she and Bose were secretly married in Badgastein on 26 December 1937. They had one daughter, Anita, born in 1942. Bose wrote many letters to Schenkl during the period 1934 – 1942, of which many have been published in the book Letters to Emilie Schenkl, edited by Sisir Kumar Bose and Sugatha Bose.

Bose became the president of the Haripura Indian National Congress in 1938, against Gandhi's wishes. He was elected for a second term in 1939 in the Tripuri Congress Session; Gandhi had supported Pattabhi Sitaramayya and commented "Subhas' victory is my defeat" after learning the election results. Although Bose won the election, Gandhi's continued opposition led to the latter's resignation from the Working Committee, and the possibility that the rest of the CWC would resign. In the face of this gesture of no-confidence, Bose himself resigned, and was left with no alternative but to form an independent party, the All India Forward Bloc. Bose also initiated the concept of the National Planning Committee in 1938.Template:Inote

Actions during the Second World War

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Subhash Chandra Bose and a German army officer

Bose advocated the approach that the political instability of war-time Britain should be taken advantage of — rather than simply wait for the British to grant independence after the end of the war (which was the view of Gandhi, Nehru and a section of the Congress leadership at the time). In this, he was influenced by the examples of Italian statesmen Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini.

His correspondence reveals that despite his clear dislike for British subjugation, he was deeply impressed by their methodical and systematic approach and their steadfastly disciplinarian outlook towards life. In England, he exchanged ideas on the future of India with British Labour Party leaders and political thinkers like Lord Halifax, George Lansbury, Clement Attlee, Arthur Greenwood, Harold Laski, J.B.S. Haldane, Ivor Jennings, G.D.H. Cole, Gilbert Murray and Sir Stafford Cripps . He came to believe that a free India needed Socialist authoritarianism, on the lines of Turkey's Kemal Atatürk, for at least two decades.

The Great Escape

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Cancelled passport of Bose
The famous car that Bose's nephew drove with Bose during the latter's dramatic escape

On the outbreak of war, Bose advocated a campaign of mass civil disobedience to protest against the Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow's decision to declare war on India's behalf without consulting the Congress leadership. Having failed to persuade Gandhi of the necessity of this, Bose organised mass protests in Calcutta calling for the 'Holwell Monument' commemorating the Black Hole of Calcutta, which then stood at the corner of Dalhousie Square, to be removed. A reasonable measure of the contrast between Gandhi and Bose is captured in a saying attributable to him: "If people slap you once, slap them twice". 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 CBI, but their vigilance left a good deal to be desired. With two court cases pending, he felt the British would not let him leave the country before the end of the war -Bose, This set the scene for Bose's "Great Escape" to Germany, via Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. Bose had never been to Afghanistan, and could not speak the local tribal language (Pashto). Bose escaped from under British surveillance at his house in Calcutta. On January 19 1941, accompanied by his nephew Sisir K. Bose, Bose gave his watchers the slip and journeyed to Peshawar. With the assistance of the Abwehr, he made his way to Peshawar where he was met at Peshawar Cantonment station by Akbar Shah, Mohammed Shah and Bhagat Ram Talwar. Bose was taken to the home of Abad Khan, a trusted friend of Akbar Shah's. On 26 January 1941, Bose began his journey to reach Russia through India's North West frontier with Afghanistan. For this reason, he enlisted the help of Mian Akbar Shah, then a Forward Bloc leader in the North West Frontier Province. Shah had been out of India en route to the Soviet Union, and suggested a novel disguise for Bose to assume. Since Bose could not speak one word of Pashto, it would make him an easy target of Pashto speakers working for the British. For this reason, Shah suggested that Bose act deaf and dumb, and let his beard grow to mimic those of the tribesmen.

Supporters of the Aga Khan helped him across the border into Afghanistan where he was met by an Abwehr unit posing as a party of road construction engineers from the Organization Todt who then aided his passage across Afghanistan via Kabul to the border with Soviet Russia. Once in Russia the NKVD transported Bose to Moscow where he hoped that Russia's traditional enmity to British rule in India would result in support for his plans for a popular rising in India. However, Bose found the Soviets' response disappointing and was rapidly passed over to the German Ambassador in Moscow, Count von der Schulenberg. He had Bose flown on to Berlin in a special courier aircraft at the beginning of April where he was to receive a more favorable hearing from von Rippentrop and the Foreign Ministry officials at the Wilhelmstrasse.[1]

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Bose as the leader of INA

Assassination Attempts

In 1941, when the British learned that Bose had sought the support of the Axis Powers, they ordered their agents to intercept and kill Bose before he reached Germany. A recently declassified intelligence document refers to a top-secret instruction to the Special Operations Executive (SOE) of British intelligence to murder Bose.

The decision was extraordinary, unusual and rare, and it seemed that the British took Bose much more seriously than many had thought. In fact, the plan to liquidate Bose has few parallels, and appears to be a last desperate measure against a man whose uncompromising radicalism had seriously worried the leadership of the British Empire.[2]

In Germany

Having escaped incarceration at home by assuming the guise of a Pathan insurance agent ("Ziaudddin") to reach Afghanistan, Bose travelled to Moscow on the passport of an Italian nobleman "Count Orlando Mazzotta". From Moscow, he reached Rome, and from there he traveled to Germany, where he instituted the Special Bureau for India under Adam von Trott zu Solz, broadcasting on the German-sponsored Azad Hind Radio. He founded the Free India Centre in Berlin, and created the Indian Legion (consisting of some 4500 soldiers) out of Indian prisoners of war who had previously fought for the British in North Africa prior to their capture by Axis forces. The Indian Legion was attached to the Wehrmacht, and later transferred to the Waffen SS;[3] its members swore their allegiance to both Hitler and Bose to secure India's independence. At a time, when no one in Germany dared criticise Hitler, Bose was openly critical of Hitler's treatment of Jews, the destruction of democratic institutions in Germany and the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. He was also, however, prepared to envisage an invasion of India via the U.S.S.R. by Nazi troops, spearheaded by the Azad Hind Legion; many have questioned his judgment here, as it seems unlikely that the Germans could have been easily persuaded to leave after such an invasion, which would also have resulted in an Axis victory in the War.[4]

The lack of interest shown by Hitler in the cause of Indian independence eventually caused Bose to become disillusioned with Hitler and he decided to leave Nazi Germany in 1943. Bose had been living together with his wife Schenkl in Berlin from 1941 until 1943, when he left for south-east Asia. He travelled by the German submarine U-180 around the Cape of Good Hope to Imperial Japan (via Japanese submarine I-29), which helped him raise his army in Singapore. This was the only civilian transfer across two submarines of two different navies in World War II.

Indian National Army

The Indian National Army (INA) was originally founded by the expatriate nationalist leader Rash Behari Bose, who handed over control of the organisation to Subhas Chandra Bose after his arrival in the Far East in 1943. At its height it consisted of some 85,000 regular troops, including a separate women's army unit named after Rani Lakshmi Bai (the women's combat army unit was the first of its kind in Asia). These troops were under the aegis of a provisional government, with its own currency, court and civil code, called the "Provisional Government of Free India" (or, the Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind), and recognised by nine Axis states — Germany, Japan, Italy, the Independent State of Croatia, Wang Jingwei's Government in Nanjing, Thailand, a provisional government of Burma, Manchukuo and Japanese-controlled Philippines. Of those countries, five were puppet states established by Axis occupation. This government participated as a delegate or observer in the so-called Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

As the Japanese pressed forward through Burma towards India, some of the INA's troops assisted in the Japanese victory over the British in the battles of Arakan and Meiktila, along with the Burmese National Army led by Ba Maw and Aung San. A year after the islands were taken by the Japanese, the Provisional Government and the INA were established in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, part of the British Indian Empire under Japanese occupation, which he renamed Shaheed (Martyr) and Swaraj (Self-rule). Bose visited the islands on just one occasion late in 1943, when he was carefully screened from the local population by the Japanese authorities, who at that time were torturing the leader of the Indian Independence League on the Islands, Dr. Diwan Singh (who later died of his injuries, in the Cellular Jail). The islanders made several attempts to alert Bose to their plight, but apparently without success.[5]

On the Indian mainland, an Indian Tricolour, modeled after that of the Indian National Congress, was raised for the first time in the town in Moirang, in Manipur, in northeastern India. The towns of Kohima and Imphal were placed under siege by divisions of the Japanese, Burmese and the Gandhi and Nehru Brigades of I.N.A. At the time of the Great Bengal Famine of 1943, during which millions died of starvation as a consequence of British inefficiency and indifference, Bose had offered (through radio) to provide Burmese rice to the victims of the famine. The British authorities in India (and in the UK) refused the offer, arguing that it was made for propaganda purposes.

Bose had hoped that large numbers of soldiers would desert from the Indian Army when they would discover that INA soldiers were attacking British India from the outside.[6] However, this did not materialise on a sufficient scale. Instead, as the war situation worsened for the Japanese, troops began to desert from the INA. At the same time Japanese funding for the army diminished, and Bose was forced to raise taxes on the Indian populations of Malaysia and Singapore, sometimes extracting money by force.[7] When the Japanese were defeated at the battles of Kohima and Imphal, the Provisional Government's aim of establishing a base in mainland India was lost forever. The INA was forced to pull back, along with the defeated Japanese Army. Japan's surrender also led to the eventual surrender of the Indian National Army.

Spoken as a part of a motivational speech for the Indian National Army at a rally of Indians in Burma on July 4 1944, Bose's most famous quote was "Give me blood, and I shall give you freedom!" (which in Hindi translates to तुम मुझे खून दो, मैं तुम्हे आज़ादी दूँगा!). In this, he urged the people of India to join him in his fight against the British Raj. Spoken in Hindi, Bose's words are highly evocative and are considered an important milestone in the Indian freedom struggle.

His other famous quote was,"Delhi chalo", meaning "On to Delhi!". This was the call he used to give the INA armies to motivate them. "Jai Hind(जय हिन्द!)", or, "Glory to India!" was another slogan used by him and later adopted by the Government of India and the Indian Armed Forces.

Disappearance and alleged death

Officially, Bose died in a plane crash over Taiwan, while flying to Tokyo on 18 August 1945. However, his body was never recovered, and many theories have been put forward concerning his possible survival. One such claim is that Bose actually died in Siberia, while in Soviet captivity. Several committees have been set up by the Government of India to probe into this matter.

In May 1956, a four-man Indian team (known as the Shah Nawaz Committee) visited Japan to probe the circumstances of Bose's alleged death. The Indian government did not then request assistance from the government of Taiwan in the matter, citing their lack of diplomatic relations with Taiwan. However, as far back as 1956, the Government of Formosa, as Taiwan was then called, informed a British investigation that no air crash had occurred in that country between August and October 1945. Details are available in the book "Netaji - Dead or Alive?" by Indian ex-MP, late Shri Samar Guha. The G D Khosla Commission (1970-1974) too could not reach to any conclusion as it failed to take inputs from Taiwan. Published in 1978, Guha's book is the first-ever and easily the most comprehensive compilation on the Netaji disappearance mystery, which effectively trashes the Taihoku air crash story. On the basis of this book, Mr. Morarji Desai, the then Prime Minister of India, rejected the G D Khosla Commission report in Parliament in 1978.

However, the Inquiry Commission under Justice Mukherjee, which investigated the Bose disappearance mystery in the period 1999-2005, did approach the Taiwanese government and obtained information from the Taiwan Government that no plane carrying Bose had ever crashed in Taipei [3]. The Mukherjee Commission also received a report originating from the US State Department, supporting the claim of the Taiwan Government that no such air crash took place during that time frame [4].

There are theories of political effort to classify information on the death mystery. In fact, according to some, Nehru did not wish to unveil the mystery behind Bose's disappearance and led to hushing of some important documents.[8] It has been reported that a conversation reportedly took place between Josef Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov in 1946 about whether Bose should remain in the Soviet Union, although he is supposed to have died the year before. There are theories that Bose had kept contact with the Soviets after the defeat of the Axis powers became apparent, and travelled to Manchuria instead of Taiwan (Manchuria was occupied by the Soviets in the final days of the war).

The Mukherjee Commission submitted its report to the Indian Government on November 8, 2005. The report was tabled in Parliament on May 17, 2006. The probe said in its report that Bose did not die in the plane crash and the ashes at Renkoji temple are not his. However, the Indian Government rejected the findings of the Commission.

Political views

Bose with Gandhi in 1938

Bose advocated complete freedom for India at the earliest, whereas most of the Congress Committee wanted it in phases, through a Dominion status.[9] Even though Bose and Gandhi had differing ideologies, the latter called Bose the "Prince among the Patriots" in 1942. Bose admired Gandhi, recognising his importance as a symbol of Indian Nationalism; he called him "The Father of Our Nation" in a radio broadcast from Rangoon in 1944, in which he stated that "I am convinced that if we do desire freedom we must be prepared to wade through blood",[10] a statement somewhat at odds with Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence. Thus, although they shared the goal of an Independent India, by 1939 the two had become divided over the strategy which should be used to achieve Indian Independence, and to some degree the form which the post-Independence state should take: Gandhi was hostile to industrialisation, whilst Bose saw it as the only route to making India strong and self-sufficient (in this he may have been influenced, like many other Indian intellectuals of the time, by reports of the success of the Soviet five-year plans). Nehru disagreed with Gandhi on this point as well, though not over the tactics of protest.

Netaji addressing the nation

At the time the Second World War began, great divisions existed in the Indian independence movement about whether to exploit the weakness of the British to achieve independence. Some felt that any distinctions between the political allegiances and ideologies of the warring factions of Europe were inconsequential in the face of the possibility of Indian independence, given the fact that the British themselves showed so little respect for democracy or democratic reforms in India. Others felt that it was inappropriate to seek concessions when Britain itself was in peril, or else that pressure was better applied within India and in peaceful fashion, and found that their distaste for Nazi Germany and Japan outweighed any possibility that an alliance with them would bring India's independence closer.

Bose, in particular, was accused of 'collaborating' with the Axis, after he fled to Germany in 1941 and offered Hitler an alliance. He criticized the British during World War II, saying that while Britain was allegedly fighting for the freedom of the European nations under Nazi control, it would not grant independence to its own colonies, including India. It may be observed that along with Nehru, Bose had organized and led protest marches against the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, and of China itself in 1938, when he was Congress president. In 1937 he published an article attacking Japanese Imperialism in the Far East, although he betrayed some admiration for other aspects of the Japanese regime.[11] Bose's earlier correspondence (prior to 1939) also reflects his deep disapproval of the racist practices of, and annulment of democratic institutions in Nazi Germany.[12] He also, however, expressed admiration for the authoritarian methods (though not the racial ideologies) which he saw in Italy and Germany during the 1930s, and thought they could be used in building an independent India.[13] Nevertheless, Bose's tenure as Congress Party President (1938-39) did not reflect any particular anti-democratic or authoritarian attributes.[14] Rather, his role then was more that of a negotiator, and a consensus-builder within the ranks of the senior Congress leadership (led by Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru and others) on the one hand, and the Muslim League (led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah) on the other. Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Anton Pelinka and Leonard Gordon have remarked that Bose's skills were best illustrated at the negotiating table, rather than on the battlefield.

Subhash Chandra Bose and Jinnah of Muslim League seen here together

That Bose eventually changed his political stance (which initially was that of Gandhi and Nehru) and reflects his deep discontent with the nature of the British rule, and a growing belief that the formation of an Indian free state was too far into the future on the British political roadmap to be acceptable. At the Tripuri Congress session of 1939, he made his views quite explicit - he demanded for a programme of immediately giving the British Government a six-months ultimatum to grant the national demand of independence and of launching a mass civil disobedience movement if it failed to do so. He believed that "... the country was internally more ripe for a revolution than ever before and that the coming international crisis would give India an opportunity for achieving her emancipation, which is rare in human history.".[15]

Bose's judgment in allying with the Japanese has been questioned, as many argue that he would have been unable to ensure an independent India had he ridden to power on Japanese bayonets, and was in danger of being turned into a puppet ruler like Pu-yi, the last Chinese Emperor in Manchukuo. In 1943 Rash Behari Bose had urged this on him during his last visit to Subhas Bose in Singapore, pointing out that the Japanese had claimed right of conquest in Manchuria and would do so in India, whilst Quit India had shown that this would not be accepted by the Indian Nation.[16] Bose may have believed that the people of India would be with him, and that therefore he would be able to resist Japanese demands. He knew that India was a long way from Japan, and that the Japanese were already at the limits of their capabilities. He also pointed out that the American revolutionaries had accepted assistance from France, and this didn't make the US a French colony.[17] Nevertheless, given the INA's overwhelming dependence on Japanese military support, he would have been in a very weak position. Bose also seems to have ignored the appalling treatment meted out by the Japanese to the Asian inhabitants of the lands they conquered as part of the Greater East Asian Co-prosperity sphere, which included the forcible recruitment of labour from the overseas Indian population to build projects such as the Burma Railway, and massacres of Malayan Chinese in Singapore where he spent most of the War.[18]

Bose has been branded as a fascist in some quarters. Others believe that Bose had clearly expressed his belief that democracy was the best option for India.[19] The pro-Bose thinkers believe that his authoritarian control of the Indian National Army was based on political pragmatism and a post-colonial recovery doctrine rather than any anti-democratic belief.[citation needed]. However, during the war (and possibly as early as the 1930s) Bose seems to have decided that no democratic system could be adequate to overcome India's poverty and social inequalities, and he wrote that an authoritarian state, similar to that of Soviet Russia (which he had also seen and admired) would be needed for the process of national re-building.[20] Accordingly some suggest that Bose's alliance with the Axis during the war was based on more than just pragmatism, and that Bose may have been a Fascist, though not a Nazi; alternatively, others consider he might have been using populist methods of mobilization common to many postcolonial leaders.[21][22]

Had either of the alliances he forged during the war resulted in Indian independence in the manner he envisaged, it would have been at the cost of an Allied defeat in the Second World War, a price that some Indians would argue is too high: Gandhi himself, in the immediate aftermath of the war, said that Bose had been "foolish in imagining, that by allying himself with the Japanese and the Germans, who were not only aggressive Powers, but also dangerous Powers, he could get Indian freedom".[23] The alternative of non-violent protest within India espoused by Gandhi and the rest of Congress ultimately led to British withdrawal, albeit at the expense of the partition of the country along communal lines. Even before 1939, Congress had secured political concessions from the British in the form of elected Provincial Assemblies, and an agreement that the British taxpayer would foot the bill for Indian re-armament.[24] Although it was rejected by Congress at the time, the 1942 Cripps mission's offer of full independence after the war could be considered the point at which the British departure became inevitable.[25] Britain's weakness after the war, and domestic political pressure on the Labour Government also made British withdrawal more likely. Publicly at least, Bose never believed that this would happen unless they were driven out by force: as late as 1944 he announced that "I am honestly convinced that the British Government will never recognise India's demand for independence".[26] In this he was mistaken.

Yet it may be equally true that he would never have accepted the partition of India as true independence, just as Gandhi always refused to accept that the people of India were two separate nations. Some would also argue that it was the activities and spectre of the INA and what Bose represented which convinced the British imperial administration to hand over a divided India to the Congress and the Muslim League.[27] They also consider it a backhanded tribute to Bose that the Congress tricolor and the Muslim League green flag flew together for the last time during the mutiny of the Indian navy in Bombay unleashed in 1946 by popular fury at the trial of INA officers by the British.[28] The view that it was Bose and the INA who were instrumental in driving out the British is popular amongst some Indian Historians today:[29] they would claim that Bose's original goal of starting mass militant revolution among the Indians once his army reached India was realised after his death, as stories of the INA inspired the British Indian Armed forces into increasingly rebellious resentment. This is far from being a universally accepted interpretation, as other Historians would argue that the Mutiny of the Indian Navy was a minor factor in the British decision to leave compared to domestic political pressure, American hostility to any continuation of the Raj, and the breakdown of almost all networks of support and collaboration brought about by thirty years of Congress agitation. By 1946 over 50% of the members of the Indian Civil Service were Indians, and even Churchill recognised that the offer of independence made by the Cripps Mission in 1942 could not now be withdrawn.[30] In this interpretation concerns over the loyalty of the military were only one factor amongst many amidst the general breakdown in authority: nor, it could be argued, did all this necessarily stem from the activities of Bose and the INA. The prospect of communalism infecting the armed forces worried the British just as much.[31]

There is no doubt that Bose was a great patriot,[32] and was considered as such even by his rivals in the Congress. Gandhi himself wrote that Bose's "... patriotism is second to none",[33] and he was moved to proclaim after Bose's disappearance that he was a "prince among patriots" - a reference to Bose's achievement in integrating women and men from all the regions and religions of India in the Indian National Army.[34] Bose wanted freedom for India at the earliest opportunity, and to some extent, he didn't care who he had to approach for assistance.[35] It is thus quite understandable that he remains a controversial figure to this day.

Re-evaluation of Netaji

The INA is fondly remembered by some Japanese rightwingers, who see the Japanese efforts to support Bose as proof of their view that Japan really was fighting on behalf of the oppressed peoples of Asia. In addition, the INA is seen by some as an organisation devoid of the divisive energies of parochialism that have since plagued Indian politics.

Bose's portrait hangs in the Indian Parliament, and a statue has been erected in front of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.

Bose was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award in 1992, but it was later withdrawn in response to a Supreme Court directive following a Public Interest Litigation filed in the Court against the "posthumous" nature of the award. The Award Committee could not give conclusive evidence of Bose's death and thus it invalidated the "posthumous" award. Kolkata's civil airport and a university have been named after him.

In media


Documentary / Television

  • The Century of Warfare, was a 1994 English language documentary in made in the USA shows archival footage of Netaji.
  • War of the Springing Tiger was a 1984 English language documentary made in the UK for Channel 4 which examines the role of the Indian National Army during the Second World War.

See also