Saturday, January 21, 2012

Netaji the symbol of burning patriotism, tireless efforts




passed his B.A. in Philosophy from the Presidency College in Calcutta. He was strongly influenced by Swami Vivekananda's teachings and was known for his patriotic zeal as a student. His parents' wishes kept him away from the Indian freedom struggle and led him  into studies for the Indian Civil Service in England.  Although he finished those examinations also at the top of his class (4th), he could not complete his aprecentship and returned to India, being deeply disturbed by the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre. 


Had he lived, Subhas Chandra Bose could have given a new turn to Independent India's political history. But he lives on eternally in the Indian mind, more famous after his death

Bose advocated complete freedom for India at the earliest, whereas the Congress Committee wanted it in phases, through a Dominion status. Other younger leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru supported Bose and finally at the historic Lahore Congress convention, the Congress had to adopt Poorna Swaraj (complete freedom) as its motto.Bhagat Singh's martyrdom and the inability of the Congress leaders to save his life infuriated Bose and he started a movement opposing the Gandhi-Irvin Peace  Pact. He was imprisoned and expelled from India. But defying the ban, he came back to India and was imprisoned again!


Clouds of  World War II were gathering  fast and Bose warned the Indian people and the British against dragging India into the war and the material losses she could incur. He was elected president of  the Indian National Congress twice in 1937 and in 1939, the second time defeating Gandhiji's nominee. He brought a resolution to give the British six months to hand  India over to the Indians, failing which there would be a revolt


The second World War broke out in September of 1939, and just as predicted by Bose, India was declared as a warring state (on behalf of the  British) by the Governor General, without consulting Indian leaders. The Congress party was in power in seven major states and all state governments resigned in protest.


Subhas Chandra Bose now started a mass movement against utilizing Indian resources and men for the great war. To him, it made no sense  to further bleed  poor Indians for the sake of colonial and imperial nations.  There was a tremendous response to his call and the British promptly imprisoned him . He took to a hunger-strike, and after his health deteriorated on the 11th day of fasting, he was freed and was placed under house arrest. The British were afraid of violent reactions in India, should something happen to Bose in prison


In November 1941, his broadcast from German radio sent shock waves among the British and electrified the Indian masses who realized that their leader was working on a master plan to free their motherland.


The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed the history of mankind. Japan had to surrender. Bose was in Singapore at that time and decided to go to Tokyo for his next course of action. Unfortunately, the plane he boarded crashed near Taipei and he died in the hospital of severe burns. He was just 48.

The Indian people were so much enamored of Bose's oratory and leadership qualities, fealressness and mysterious adventures, that he had become a legend. They refused to believe that he died in the plane crash. The famous Red Fort trial wherein Bose's generals and the INA officers were tried, became  landmark events. Initially, the British Government   thought of  a court-martial, but there was a countrywide protest against any kind of punishment. For common Indians, Axis and Allied powers hardly mattered, but they could not tolerate punishment of fellow countrymen who were fighting for freedom. The British Government was in no position to face open rebellion or mutiny and a general amnesty for INA soldiers was declared.


While Bose's approach to Indian freedom continues to generate heated debate in the Indian society today, there is no denying of  his burning patriotism,  his tireless efforts to free India from inside and outside and his reckless adventures in trying to reach his goals.  His exploits later became a legend due to the many stories carried by the disbanded INA soldiers who came from every nook and corner of our great country.


-Dr. Jyotsna Kamat is a historian living in Bangalore. India's freedom struggle is one of her favorite topics

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