Indian freedom struggle is so synonymous with Indian National Congress and its leaders that we often times forget the contribution of leaders with alternate ideology. Subhas Chandra Bose, lovingly called “Nethaji” is one such leader. A fervent patriot Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose felt the only way to rid India of British rule was through an armed resistance. His love for his country and hate for the British rulers was so pronounced he joined hands with Nazi Germany and Japan – Enemy of an enemy was a friend.
Birth and Early Life
Subhas Chandra Bose was born in the town of Orissa (Cuttack) on the 23rd of January, 1897.He was the son to Janakinath Bose (Father) and Prabhavati Devi (mother). He came from a large family of fourteen siblings with him being the ninth born. His dad Janakinath Bose was also a prominent lawyer in the town. Later on in life, his father also ventured into politics and was admitted as a member of the Legislative Council in Bengal. From a very tender age, Chandra Bose was a very intelligent student. He performed impressively in class and was also quite sincere. However, he had little interest in other extracurricular activities such as sports.
Subhas Chandra Bose ‘s Education
Janakinath Bose was a strong supporter of the British and just like his brothers and sisters, Subhas Chandra Bose was enrolled in a Protestant European School. He started school in 1902 and schooled until 1907 in the school run by a Baptist Mission. Afterwards, he moved to Ravenshaw Collegiate School. After having secured second place in the matriculation exam held in 1913, he got admittance to the “Presidency College”. However, he did not last long in the college. He was expelled for having assaulted a professor at the college. Reason for his actions was based on Professor Oaten’s negative racist remarks about India. Afterward, he moved to Scottish Church College under the University of Calcutta where he graduated with a B.A. in philosophy in 1918.
Further Studies Abroad
As a bright and ambitious student, Subhash Bose had big dreams as a person. This led him to pursuing higher education in England. Before his departure to the colonial master’s country, He vowed to his father that his name would appear in the ICS (Indian Civil Services) examinations. As a matter of fact it did. He managed to secure fourth place in the exam while studying at Fitzwilliam College in Cambridge in 1919. It was common for top students to secure employment with the British Government. This was viewed as a coveted position at the time. However, he saw these as having to answer to the colonialist’s calling. On 23rd April, he resigned from his post in the Indian Civil Service and headed back home.
Video: Documentary on Nethaji Subhas Chandra Bose
Burning Desire for Indian Freedom
Coming back to India he soon realised the discrimination of the British towards his fellow country men. Every day he saw evidence of atrocities to his people. In 1922 a public celebration which was planned to honor the visitation of the Prince of Wales to India, he and other students organized a mass boycott. This led to him together with other students being arrested and imprisoned. This can be said to have been his starting point for his urge to participate in the struggle for India’s Independence. His strong following of the teachings of Swami Vivekananda is believed to have played a central role in his patriotic zeal.
Entry into Politics
He was quite outspoken even in his early days. Later on, Subhash became a member of Indian National Congress (INC).He was later elected as the party’s president in 1938. Subash Chandra Bose was a close associate of Chittaranjan Das. As an active and zealous member of the congress, Mr. Das greatly influenced Bose’s political journey. He always looked up to Chittaranjan Das as his main political guru and was deeply infludenced by his aggressive nationalism. As Das developed a national strategy for India, Bose was hard at work motivating and encouraging students, laborers, and youths in Calcutta.
Change in Ideology
His political journey was far from smooth. In fact, he usually found himself at crossroads. For instance, while still at Congress, he openly opposed the British rule. This was not the usual strategy used by the likes of Mahatma Gandhi. This led to Mahatma Gandhi among other leaders out rightly opposing him. His election to the congress also came as a shock to many. It was norm for a close aide to Gandhi being elected. However he was not in good terms with the celebrated leader. In order to try to force the British out of India, he sought support from allies such as Japan, and German. This did not go well with the Indian National Congress and was ousted from the party. He was later placed in house arrest until he escaped in 1940.
Image: Nethaji Subhash Chandra Bose with Gandhi
Nethaji fled to Kabul, Afghanistan and later to Moscow. He later traveled to Berlin and wanted to meet Hitler, to ask for monetary support and declare support for Independence of India. In November 1941, with German funds, a Free India Centre was set up in Berlin, and soon Nethaji broadcast nightly propaganda in the Free India Radio. Here he spoke to Indian prisoners of war who fought for British army to join him. His idea was to form an Indian National Army (INA) referred to as “Azad Hind Fauj”. He also spoke to the Japanese army that had several thousand Indian POWs in Singapore to let them join his INA.
Azad Hind Fouz / Indian National Army (INA)
Nethaji was busy with his broadcasts and also was writing a book “The Indian Struggle”. Introduced by a friends,Emilie Schenkl was hired due to her skills. She could take short-hand, her English language,typing skills were good. They soon fell in love and were married in a secret Hindu ceremony in 1937. They have a daughter Aneeta Bose.
Image: Nethaji Subhash Chandra Bose with wife Emilie Shenkl
Rise of Indian National Army
Nethaji took a U-boat to Africa and to Tokyo where he spoke to Japanese and convinced the Japanese to support him to attack British in India. He amassed a huge force of upto 40,000. His fiery speech motivated Indian men and women to join the INA. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs forged a strong bond in INA. The INA had a women’s regiment, the Rani of Jhansi regiment.
Image: Colonel Lakshmi Sahgal from the Rani of Jhansi regiment in INA
Their attack in 1943 was thwarted by heavily armed British troops. It was later know a close aide of Subhas Chandra Bose had leaked the news of the attack which gave time for the British army to prepare.
The INA and Japanese army faced a heavy defeat and the British took back Singapore. Several thousands of INA soldiers were massacred in this bloody battle.
Mystery behind Subhash Chandra Bose ‘s Death
After the heavy defeat of the INA, Nethaji escaped and planned to fly to Manchuria where he had decided to surrender to the Soviet Union which he believed to be turning anti-British. It is believed that the great freedom fighter died en-route in a plane crash on 18th August 1945. His death remain a mystery even today and is a topic of controversy and conspiracy. Justice Mukherjee who investigated his death for 6 years published a report in 2005 stating the remain were not of Nethajis. There are also CIA reports that state Nethaji might have been alive as late as 1964.
His burning desire, dedication, and strong belief in a system that was free for all is never in question. He put his life at risk to see the common Indian one day walk freely in the streets. This was despite facing opposition from all quarters. Today, India enjoys its freedom and we should thank and remember Subhash Chandra Bose and his men and women in INA who died for the Freedom of this great country.
Nethaji Subhash Chandra Bose – Famous Quotes