Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was born in 1897 in a prosperous middle class family of Bengal. From his childhood he was very sharp-minded and after graduating from Calcutta University he qualified for the Indian civil Services at the age 21. He after working for some time as a civil servant left his job when Gandhiji (MohanDas Karamchand Gandhi) started his Non-Cooperation Movement.
Netaji had been a member of the Congress for many years, although he was in favour of was in favour of the entry of the congress in the Councils as suggested by Swaraj Party. He actively participated in Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience Movement, although he had a different attitude that Gandhiji and his associates. Failure of the two movements led by Gandhiji alienated Netaji from Gandhiji and the Congress.
Netaji resented Gandhiji’s decision to withdraw the on cooperation movement and wrote in his autobiography, INDIAN STRUGGLE
“To sound the order of retreat when public enthusiasm was reaching the boiling point was no less than a national calamity. The principal lieutenants of Gandhiji, Deshbandhu Das, Motilal Nehru and Lala Lajpat Rai, who were all in prison, shared the popular resentment. I was with Deshbandhu at the time and I could see he was beside himself with anger and sorrow at the way Gandhiji was repeatedly bungling.”
In 1939 when war in Europe was imminent, the view of Subhash Chandra Bose was that
“India’s immediate requirements were an uncompromising struggle with British Imperialism and the methods of struggle more effective than what Gandhiji had produced.” Again “The Indian people should not be hampered by any philosophical notions like Gandhian non-violence or Jawaharlal Nehru’s anti-Axis foreign policy.”
The internal strife between Gandhiji and Netaji reached its climax at the Tripuri session of the Congress, held from 8th to 12th March 1939. There had to be a showdown as the Congress leaders were not ready to accept Netaji as the supreme leader of the national movement vis-a-vis to Gandhiji. They all wanted that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose should nominate his working committee in accordance with the wishes of Gandhiji. Under this situation, Netaji had no other option but to resign from Congress Presidentship.
As President of the Congress he had also proposed in March 1939 that an ultimatum be given to the Government of India to make India free within six months. However, the proposal was turned down by Congress members. After Netaji’s resignation Rajendra Prasad was elected in his place. Netaji formed and his followers formed the ‘Forward Bloc’ as a new party within Congress. And when he gave a call for an All India protest against an AICC resolution, the Working Committee took disciplinary action against him, removing him fro the Presidentship of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committer and debarring him from holding any Congress office for three years.
When the World War II broke out, he undertook a tour of the country and addressed hundreds of meetings in which he openly criticised the British Government and advised the Indians not to help the British in the was effort. On April 6, 1940, he was imprisoned without trial. While jail he came two three conclusions. The first conclusion was that Britain would lose the war and the British Empire would break up. The second conclusion was that inspite of being in a weak position the British would never hand over power to the people of India. And Indians would have to fight for their freedom. His third conclusion was that India would win her independence by playing her part against Britain and collaborating with those powers that were fighting against Britain.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose rendered great services to the nation in its struggle for freedom is evident from his election as President of the Congress in two successive years. He helped armed nationalists in different ways. His views on economic questions were far more progressive than those of the older Congress leaders. He initiated the idea of economic planning which the Congress adopted when it came to power. His determination to eliminate the policy of compromise from the program of the Congress led to expulsion from the party. Undaunted, he established the ‘Forward Bloc’. He was far above communalism and narrow mindedness. On 25th August Subhash Chandra Bose in Singapore assumed the supreme command for the free Azad Hind Fauj or Indian National Army (I.N.A.). He then set up the Provisional Government of Free India on 21st October 1943.
Netaji and his cabinet took the following oath : “In the name of Parmeshwar, I take this sacred oath that to liberate India and thirty eight crores of my countrymen, I will continue the sacred war of freedom till the last breath of my life. Shall always remain a servant of Bharat and to look after the welfare of the thirty eight crossed of Indian brothers and sisters shall be my highest duty. After winning freedom, I will also be prepared to shed even the last drop of my blood for the preservation go India’s freedom.”
In this proclamation of the Provisional Government Netaji Made a stirring emotional appeal to his countrymen living in all the countries of the East. The free government of Japan, Germany, Korea, China, Philippines and the Irish Republic accorded official recognition to the Provisional Government of free India. The Japanese Government handed over there administration of Andaman and Nicobar Islands to Netaji in 1943. Netaji visited these islands and renamed them as ‘Shaheed Island’ and ‘Swarajya Island’ respectively. On 30th December, the flag of free India was hoisted on the island and Netaji celebrated the Independence Day in Rangoon and floated Free India Bank with the subscribed capital of over eight crores.
The Provisional Government declared war on the Britain and the United States and was recognised by the Axis Powers and their satellites. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose sent two IN headquarters, in Rangoon and in Singapore and began to reorganise the INA. Recruits were sought from civilians, funds were raised, and even a women’s regiment called ‘Rani Jhansi Regiment’ was formed. In 1944, Netaji began his historic march from Rangoon to India. On 4th February, the INA broke the British Defence on the Indo-Burmese borders and liberated Ramu, Kohima, Palel, Tiddim and Manipur. They showed such skill and bravery that even British had to admire it. It is said that the women platoons at one place fought for sixteen hours with the British forces.
On 6th July 1944 Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in a broadcast on Azad Hind Radio, addressed to Gandhiji, said,
“India’s last war of Independence has begun ; In this war of India’s liberation, we ask for your blessings and good wishes.”
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose prescribed a slogan for the I.N.A “Chalo Delhi” (“March to Delhi”). The national tricolour was planted on the Indian soil on 19 March, But the progress of the I.N.A. was cut short by the British occupation of Rangoon in May 1944.
After the World War II was over the Government of India decided to try those Indian soldiers who had joined the Indian National Army. About 25,000 Indian soldiers who had joined the I.N.A. were rounded up after the collapse of the Japanese army in Burma. A military tribunal was set up and the first batch of three accused officers were was put on trial in the Reed fort at Delhi. There was a lot of enthusiasm in the country. An INA Defence Fund was set up. A lot of money was collected. As the official evidence was published in the newspapers, the people of India came to realise the great sacrifices made by the INA men for the liberation of our country. There was great resentment at the prosecution of the “Patriots” and there were popular demonstrations all over the country. The result was that although the accused were convicted but ultimately the sentence of transportation for life (exile) was remitted and they were simply cashiered. Taking into consideration the mood of the people at large, the government of India dropped all further proceedings against INA prisoners.
The Indian Communists, who regarded the Allies struggle against the Axis Powers as ‘People’s War’, condemned Bose as a ‘traitor’. He was a traitor indeed but not to his country but to India’s foreign rulers. The Congress did not approve or appreciate Bose’s political-cum-military actions, in fact his close association with Japan raised many doubts. It was, of course, far from his intentions to change masters- to replace the British with the Japanese. Netaji’s sole purpose was to liberate India with the assistance of Britain’s enemies.
The provincial Government set up by Netaji Subhash Bose and the Indian National Army organised by him brought the Indian questions out of the narrow domestic spheres of the British Empire into the international politics. The recognition of the Provisional Government of Free India by Japan, Germany, Italy and other countries gave a new status to India. The world opinion was affected by the efforts of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Indian National Army also proved that the Indian soldier was not merely a mercenary. The officers of INA proved their ability to lead their units with efficiency. The INA also set up a brilliant record of communal harmony.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, thus proved himself a valiant freedom fighter and sacrificed his life for the cause of Indian Independence. Although Netaji could not achieve his objective completely but his martyrdom and sacrifice of the officers and soldiers of Azad Hind Fauj ( INA ) did not go waste. They prepared the ground for India’s independence. The formation of Azad Hind Fauj and its heroic exploits proved beyond doubt that the British could no longer rely upon the Indian sepoys to maintain their hold on India. The honour and esteem with high every Indian regarded the members of INA offered a striking contrast to ill-conceived disgust and contempt for then sepoys who refused rot join the Azad Hind Fauj and remained loyal to the British masters. All these opened the eyes of the British to their perilous situation in India. They realised that they were sitting on the brink of a volcano which might erupt at any moment. This realisation played an important role in their finale decision to Quit India. So the brave heroes of Azad Hind Fauj did not die to suffer in vain and the leader, the Braveheart and the true son of Bharat Mata had secured a place of honour not only in the history of India’s struggle for freedom but in the hearts of millions of Indians.
Author’s Twitter Handle : @immortalsoulIN