Remembering Netaji: The Forgotten Hero
Early Life and Education
Born on 23rd January, into a wealthy Bengali family in Cuttack, Orissa, Subhas Chandra Bose was a brilliant kid. His father Janakinath Bose was a well-known advocate and his mother Prabhavati Devi, devout homemaker. Bose’s genius was proven while he was in school. After completing his schooling, Bose enrolled at the Presidency College, Calcutta (now Kolkata). An avid reader, Bose was highly influenced by the works Swami Vivekananda and his Vedanta Philosophy.
His nationalistic fervour came to limelight while studying in Presidency when he ended up assaulting Professor Oaten for his anti-India comments. Bose was immediately expelled. It is said that he left for Benaras and was pondering over renouncing materialistic life and becoming an ascetic. However, he came back, completed his studies from Scottish Church College, Kolkata. In 1919, Bose left for England in order to pursue the Indian Civil Services (ICS) Examination as a promise to his father. He came fourth in the examination but chose not to work under an alien government and in a letter to his brother, wrote, “Only on the soil of sacrifice and suffering can we raise our national edifice”. Bose returned to India in 1921 with a motive to serve his country.
Return to India and Tenure with Congress
Bose took charge of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee and started working extensively under the mentorship of Chittaranjan Das. He also started a newspaper titled Swaraj. In 1923 Bose was elected the president of the All India Youth Congress in Calcutta. He also served at city municipality office for a while. In 1925, in a round up with nationalists Bose was arrested and sent to prison in Mandalay where he was infected with tuberculosis. After being released from prison Bose became even more active with the Congress and started working with the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi. However, differences started arising when Bose stood for unqualified Swaraj as opposed to Gandhi and Nehru’s idea of freedom. This gradually led to Bose being forced to resign from the Indian National Congress. After this Bose went on to form his own cabinet with relentless support from people like Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar and others.
Arrest and Escape
By 1938, Bose had become a leader of national stature and kept on organizing meetings and protests against the British Government. After the outbreak of the Second World War, the British Government under Lord Linglithhow decided to declare war on India’s behalf without consulting the Congress. Infuriated at this incident, Bose organized mass protests in Calcutta but was thrown into prison by the British. After a seven-day-hunger strike, he was released from prison on health grounds. However, his Calcutta home was kept under vigilance by the British government.
Afghanistan, Europe and INA
Bose’s release set the scene for is escape to Germany via Afghanistan; on the night of January 19th, 1941 he left his Calcutta home dressed as a Pathan. It is said that he even grew a beard to escape the British. He reached Afghanistan after assuming the identity of an insurance agent. Supporters of Aga Kahn III helped him reach Soviet Russia. He travelled to Russia under the guise of an Italian nobleman. Bose hoped to bank on the age-old enmity of Russia and Britain by seeking Russia’s help. However, once disappointed he moved to Germany, who were a major Axis Power during the Second World War.
Once in Berlin, Germany, Bose was attached to the Special Bureau of India that was responsible for broadcasting for the German sponsored Azad Hind Radio. He founded the Free India Center in Berlin and also formed the Indian Legion comprising 3000 soldiers. Most of these soldiers fought for the British Government in North Africa. Bose met several German leaders including Adolf Hitler, but even this time he realized Germany could not be of much help. Nonetheless Hitler helped him escape to Japan in a submarine. It was finally in Japan the Indian National Army was founded. Several expatriate Indians living in south East Asia countries like Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Singapore let their support to the INA. INA had a separate women’s unit named Rani Jhansi regiment.
Bose along with the INA led many a ventures and with the support of Japan. However, after the surrender of Japan, the INA eventually had to surrender.
Death and Legacy
While it is said that Bose died of third degree burns after an overloaded Japanese plane crashed in the island of Taiwan. However, his death continues to be a mystery and controversies regarding Bose’s death is still being speculated.
Bose’s legacy continue to influence many and his famous line ‘Give me Blood and I will give you Freedom’ are held high; another slogan ‘Jai Hind’ was later adopted by the Indian Armed Forces.