A true revolutionary and an Indian nationalist leader, Subhas Chandra Bose is, undoubtedly, one of the prominent names that feature in the list of people who gave their lives India’s independence. He is popular across the country for his adage, “Give me Blood and I will give you Freedom”, which very well sums up his profound patriotism and love for the country. Like many other Indian nationalist leaders, he envisioned an independent India and a complete Swaraj from British Raj. Though Bose’s ideology and philosophy did not match with Mahatma Gandhi and other Indian National Congress leaders, his vision was just the same as any other nationalist hero. He is known for his political acumen and military knowledge and his struggle which he often referred to as a moral crusade. Founder of the Azad Hind Radio, Azad Hind Fauj and Azad Hind Government in exile, Bose made his intentions clear right from the very beginning. Though he did not achieve much success in his effort, his determination and hard work are nevertheless commendable. Interestingly, Clement Attlee, under whose prime-ministerial rule India gained independence, is said to have claimed that it was the Bose-led INA that weakened the very foundation of British troops and inspired the Royal Navy mutiny in 1946, leading the British to believe that they no longer were in a position to rule India.
- Ninth of the fourteen children of Janakinath Bose and Prabhavati Devi, Subhas Chandra Bose was born in Cuttack, then coming under Bengal Presidency.A brilliant student since childhood, Bose excelled at his studies attaining an overall second position in the matriculation examination. He enrolled at the Presidency College in 1911 but was sacked out from the same for assaulting Professor Oaten for the latter's anti-India comments.Bose, then, completed his graduation from Scottish Church College at the University of Calcutta, attaining a BA in philosophy in 1918. Following year, he gained admission at the Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge to appear in the Indian Civil Services Examination (ICS).Following his father’s wish, Bose did crack the examination with a fourth rank and secured a job with the civil service department but could not continue with the same for long. For Bose, continuing the work would be working under an alien government and serving the British, which he morally did not approve of.Bose forego the hard-earned, lucrative job and came back to India, where he joined the Indian National Congress to contribute in the Independence struggle. For the same, the first step was starting the newspaper, ‘Swaraj’. Additionally, he even took charge of publicity for the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee.Under the guidance and support of Chittaranjan Das, the spirit of nationalism grew by leaps and bounds in Bose. Soon he secured the chair of the President for the All India Youth Congress and served as the Secretary for the Bengal State Congress in 1923.Bose also rose to the position of the editor for the newspaper, ‘Forward’, founded by Chittaranjan Das and qualified to the post of the CEO of Calcutta Municipal Corporation.His nationalistic attitude and contribution in the Indian struggle for independence did not go well with the British and in 1925, he was sent to prison in Mandalay.Political Pursuits
- Coming out of the prison in 1927, Bose began his political career on a full-fledged note. He secured the position of the general secretary of the Congress party and started working alongside Jawaharlal Nehru in the struggle for independence.Three years later, Bose rose to become the Mayor of Calcutta. In the mid-1930s, he travelled extensively in Europe, visiting Indian students and European politicians, including Benito Mussolini.Over the years, Bose had gained so much of popularity that he became a leader of national stature. Also, the popularity and admiration won him a nomination as a Congress President.Bose’s nomination, however, did not go well with Mahatma Gandhi, who opposed Bose’s run for Presidency as the latter believed in attaining complete Swaraj, even if it meant using force against the British.Clash of opinions caused a split in the Indian National Congress, with Bose forming his own cabinet. In the 1939 Congress President elections Bose defeated Pattabhi Sitaramayya (Gandhiji’s chosen candidate), but could not continue his Presidency for long as his belief system was stark opposite to those in the Congress Working Committee.Post resigning from the Congress presidency, Bose organised the Forward Bloc on June 22, 1939. Though Bose greatly opposed the British, he nevertheless was impressed by their methodical and systematic approach and their steadfastly disciplinarian outlook towards lifeDuring World War II, Bose advocated mass civil disobedience to protest against Viceroy Lord Linlithgow's decision to declare war on India's behalf without consulting the Congress leadership. This action of his cost him seven days of imprisonment and 40 days of house arrest.On the 41st day of house arrest, Bose dressed as a Maulavi escaped from his house to reach Germany under the Italian passport with the name Orlando Mazzota. He reached Germany, via Afghanistan, Soviet Union, Moscow and Rome.Under the guidance of Adam von Trott zu Solz, Bose founded the Special Bureau for India, which broadcasted on the German-sponsored Azad Hind Radio. He believed in the fact that ‘an enemy’s enemy is a friend in turn’ and thus, sought the cooperation of Germany and Japan against the British Empire.Bose founded the Free India Center in Berlin and created the Indian Legion out of Indian prisoners of war who had previously fought for the British in North Africa. A total of almost 3000 Indian prisoner had signed up for the Free India Legion.Germany’s fall in the war and the eventual retreat of the German army, however, led Bose to believe the fact that the German army was no longer in position to help India drive out the British from their motherland.Devastated, Bose slipped out of Germany aboard a submarine to reach Japan in 1943.Bose’s arrival at Singapore gave hopes of revival of INA (Indian National Army), originally founded in 1942 by Captain General Mohan Singh and then headed nationalist leader Rash Behari Bose. Rash Behari Bose handed complete control of the organisation.to Subhas Chandra Bose. The INA came to be known as the Azad Hind Fauj and Subhas as ‘Netaji’.Netaji not only re-organized the army troops but attracted immense support from the emigrant Indians in Southeast Asia. Apart from enrolling themselves in the Fauj, people began to lend financial support as well. The Azad Hind Fauj also came up with a separate women unit, the first of its kind in AsiaThe Azad Hind Fauj expanded considerably and started functioning under a provisional government, Azad Hind Government. They had their own postage stamps, currency, courts and civil codes and were recognized by nine Axis states.It was in 1944 that Netaji gave his motivational speech where he asked his people to give him blood while he promised freedom of the country in return. Inspired by the highly provocative words, people joined him in large numbers for his fight against the British Raj.With Netaji as the Chief Commander of the Azad Hind Fauj, the army proceeded towards India to liberate the country from the British Raj. En-route it freed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and named the two islands as Swaraj and Shaheed. Rangoon became the new base camp for the army.With their first commitment at the Burma front, the army fought a competitive battle against the British and finally managed to hoist the Indian national flag on the grounds of Imphal, Manipur.The unanticipated counter-attack by the commonwealth forces, however, took the Japanese and the German army by surprise who took to retreat to Burma. The retreat and fall of Rangoon base camp destroyed the dreams of Bose to become an effective political entity and with it the hope of the provisional government to ever establish a base at mainland India.Undeterred by the fall and the defeat of the Azad Hind Fauj, Netaji planned to travel to Russia to ask for help. However, unfortunately, he did not reach the Russian soil and met with an unfortunate accident that led to his death.Awards & Achievements
- Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was posthumously honoured with a Bharat ratna award, India’s highest civilian award. However, the same was later withdrawn, following a PIL which was filed in the court against the ‘posthumous’ nature of the award.A statue of him has been erected in front of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, while his photo prominently dawns in one of the walls of the Indian Parliament.In the recent times, he has been depicted in popular cultures. While he has been a spoof of thought for various writers who have penned numerous books on him, there are various films that portray this Indian nationalism hero.Personal Life & Legacy
- Though disregarded by the members of the Forward Bloc, Bose was said to have tied the knot with the daughter of an Austrian veterinarian, Emilie Schenkl in the year 1937. The couple was blessed with a daughter named Anita Bose Pfaff in the year 1942.On board a plane en-route to Russia on August 18, 1945, Netaji met with an unfortunate accident, which led to his death. The Japanese Army Air Force Mitsubishi Ki-21 bomber, which he was traveling on, experienced engine trouble, and crashed at Taipei, Taiwan.Bose who suffered from major injuries was badly burnt. Though he was taken to the nearest hospital, he could not make it and left for the heavenly abode in a four hours’ time.His body was cremated and a Buddhist memorial service was held at Nishi Honganji Temple in Taihoku. Later, his ashes were interred at the Renkoji Temple in Tokyo, Japan.Trivia
- "Give me blood, and I shall give you freedom!" is one of the many famous quotes quoted by this Indian nationalist leader during the struggle for independence. Other famous quotes include, ‘Dilli Chalo’, ‘Ittefaq’, ‘Etemad, Qurbani’, ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Glory to India!’He was the founder of the party, All India Forward Bloc.
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