Dr. Barun Mukherji, M.P. Speaks on Netaji at London.
On an invitation from Netaji Subhas Foundation (NSF), London Dr. Barun Mukherji, Member of Parliament and National Secretary, All India Forward Bloc delivered a lecture on 'Netaji Subhas and Youth today' at the Nehru Centre, London on 30 July 2009. This annual lecture session was organised by the NSF in collaboration with Nehru Centre, cultural wing of the High Commission of India in London.
Mr. Virendra Sharma, Member of Parliament, House of Commons, U.K. and Mr. Chandra Bose of AIFB also spoke on the occasion. Sm. Madhuri Bose welcomed the speakers on behalf on NSF, London, Mr. Subhas Khale, Conventor of NSF, London presided over the function. Many distinguished persones were present among the audience.
The text of Dr. Mukherji speech is given below:
1. During the freedom movement of the country, Subhas Chandra Bose was the most popular youngest national leader of the awakened youth during the twenties and the thirties of the last century. After a rigorous three years imprisonment term (1924-1927) at the far-away Mandalaya jail, Subhas Chandra came out with a broken health but with a firm determination to organise freedom movement throughout the country. In whirlwind speed he moved all around and addressed hundreds of student & youth conferences from where he also started preaching Socialism. The young generation enthusiastically responded to his call and chanted slogans of freedom-peace-progress and socialism. At a huge youth rally held at Midnapore (Bengal) on 21 December 1929 Subhas said : 'I want a society and a state which will not only remove all the needs of the Indian people but serve as a model to the world at large. The new society will have to be built on the basis of equality. The caste system will have to be blown away. The woman will have to be freed from all shackles and endowed with rights and responsibilities equal to man. The inequalities of wealth will have to be swept away, and everyone irrespective of creed, caste or colour will have to be given equal opportunities for education and self-realisation.'
Subhas had firm conviction that the destiny of the country depended on the youth. Hence, in his concept and plan of freedom movement, youth had always a very special position unlike that of the other elements of the society. Subhas said, 'Youth movements are not reformist in outlook but revolutionary. A feeling of restlessness, of impatience with the present order, must come into existence before any youth movement can start ... it is characterised by a feeling of dissatisfaction with the present order of things, and a desire for a better order accompanied by a vision of that order.' [Speech at the third session of the All India Youth Congress, Calcutta, December 25,1928]
Even now after 80 years, the same characteristic feature of the youth still persists. A feeling of dissatisfaction with the present order, a state of restlessness due to uncertainties constantly haunting them are some of the typical characteristics of the present day youth. The ideology and revolutionary thoughts of Subhas Chandra Bose, even now as before, can guide and lead the youths to a positive goal accruing benefits to the society as well as to the youths themselves. Subhas urged the people not only to fight for freedom, but also to work hard for post-independence socialist reconstruction of the country. He amply clarified that only the political freedom can not satisfy all the needs of the people. Social, as well as economic freedom, is essential to fulfill the needs and desires of the people. In a letter (1930) to legendary revolutionary Barin Ghosh, Subhas wrote, 'The struggle for independence has as its aim the removal of the triple bondage of political, economic and social oppression.' The youths of today are realising through their day to day experience that they are yet to obtain freedom from social and economic bondage. Netaji's message can still be a guide to action for them.
2. In comparison to the earlier days, Youths today have a wider range of exposure to the world of knowledge. Their inquisitiveness and thirst for knowledge further enhance their urge for implementation of their acquired knowledge. But hardly there is scope for it. These lead them to utter disappointment. In such a situation of despair they still look for a dynamic innovative leader like Subhas.
3. The city of London had the proud privilege to host the 3rd Indian Political Conference in 1933, where Subhas Chandra in his Presidential address declared that 'Free India will not be a land of capitalists, landlords and castes. Free India will be a social and political democracy.'
But a decade after, Subhas Chandra had a realisation that caste was no more a problem in India. In his speech before the students of Tokyo University (November 1944), he said, 'In modern India, there is no such caste distinction. A member of one caste is free to take up any other profession. So, caste in that sense does not exist today ... Nowadays, intermarriage between the different castes takes place freely.' But of late the situation has changed. Quite a few power-hungry political parties have emerged and their erstwhile leaders are exploiting the caste sentiment to divide the society and thus they are reaping political advantages for personal benefits. Casteism in this sense is a divisive force. Only the open-minded youths today can combat this menace to make India strongly united.
4. We must not forget one very distinctive characteristic of Subhas Chandra's political thoughts, as was evident in his strong desire to build up a new modern India. In his Tokyo speech (1944) he said, ' We want to build up a modern nation based on our old traditional civilization and culture.' As a part of his 'modern' approach, Subhas categorically said that we must adopt modern science and technology in all spheres of our activities, including industry, agriculture, health care and education. In an article entitled "Some problems of nation building", published in 'Science and Culture' journal, edited by renowned scientist Dr. Meghnad Saha, in 1935, Subhas Chandra elaborated his thoughts as to how to utilise modern science in our nation-building task. In this respect, he stressed equally on agriculture and industry, including basic industries as well as small and cottage industries and cooperatives. Our youth today can be heavily engaged in this nation-building task that will open to them a vast area of employment.
5. For post-independence socialist reconstruction, Subhas Chandra wanted to get the nation prepared for it right from the thirties by taking the course of planned economy. Perhaps he was greatly influenced by the then Soviet Russia's progress through Five-Year Planning. As the President of the Indian National Congress, Subhas was the first to constitute a National Planning Committee which paved the way for free India's Planning Commission. He was indeed the pioneer of Indian Planning. Even during the turbulent days of INA struggle, Netaji formed a planning department within the INA.
In his Presidential address at the Haripura Congress (1938) Subhas Chandra asserted : 'if after the capture of political power, national reconstruction takes place on socialistic lines -- as I have no doubt it will -- it is the "have-nots" who will benefit at the expense of the "haves" and the Indian masses have to be classified among the "have-nots".
6. Subhas Chandra's exemplary spirit of patriotism, his love dedication and life-long selfless sacrifice for his motherland can always be a source of inspiration for the youth today. Once Gandhiji himself told, Subhas was the 'Patriot of Patriots'. He was prepared to sacrifice everything for emancipation of 'chained' motherland. During his INA struggle, he urged the Indian people in South-East Asia to make 'total sacrifice'. As he himself had done it, he had the right to ask for it. Naturally, Subhas received there unprecedented overflowing help and response from all corners.
7. One of the greatest revolutionary of all times, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was an ardent follower of Socialism, who firmly asserted that he had no doubt in his own mind that the salvation of India, as of the world, depended on Socialism. He further said -- 'India should learn from and profit by the experience of other nations -- but India should be able to evolve her own methods." His idea of Socialism was thus something unique in character, as he was the first to emphasize that India should evolve her own methods to establish socialism in India in Indian way and under Indian conditions. If we try to build it up by following the model of any particular country, he asserted, we will invariably fail to get the desired results.
Bose further clarified his point and said -- 'In applying any theory to practice, you can never rule out geography or history. If you attempt it, you are bound to fail. India should, therefore, evolve her own form of socialism. When the world is engaged in socialistic experiments, why should we not do the same? It may be that the form of socialism which India will evolve will have something new and original about it which will be of benefit to the whole world.' [Presidential address at the Calcutta session of the All India Trade Union Congress held on 4th July 1931] Indian youth today can be the prime-mover in this respect who can ultimately fulfill the dream of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
His call for establishment of Socialism in India may still guide the youth today for their future mission of life. Swami Vivekananda told -- 'Manmaking is my mission.' So also Subhas said, a free India --a Socialist India is my mission. Youth today can derive their inspiration from both. Subhas Chandra's concept of Socialsim -- his philosophy of Socialism is based on five Principles -- Justice, Euqality, Freedom, Discipline and Love. Youth today may derive solace, inspiration and guidelines for their life.
Subhas Chandra himself explained this basis of his philosophy of socialism. He said, 'I am led to the conclusion that the five principles that should form the basis of our collected life are Justice, Equality, Freedom, Discipline and Love. I should go further and say that these five principles constitute the essence of Socialism that I would like to see established in India.' [Presidential address at the UP Naujawan Bharat Sabha held at Mathura on 26 May 1931.] These five principles may help the youth today to have a better understanding of the problems confronting them and a guideline, too, to improve their collected life.
* Paper presented at the Annual Session of the Netaji Subhas Foundation, London held on 30th July 2009 at the Nehru Centre, London.