MG is a senior air warrior who is an alumnus of the Staff College and a notable writer on military history.
India has a very exciting history that traces its lineage to 4000 BC. By a quirk of fate, the sub-continent became a crown colony and the British considered it the brightest jewel of the Empire. The empire had its benefits but it did not confer sovereignty on the Indians who in effect were subjects of the empire, always a shade below the rulers. In the 20th century, a freedom movement was launched but with pacifist men like Gandhi leading, it made little headway. Out of this hubris emerged one man now popularly called Netaji. He was Subhas Chandra Bose who took up the challenge of throwing the British out of India. He opposed Gandhi and in the 1938 election to the post of president of the Congress party defeated Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, the nominee of Gandhi. Gandhi was aghast at his defeat and refused to cooperate with Bose. This is all history now as Bose decided that he would seek the help of even the devil to throw the British out of India. That led him to form the Indian Legion which fought along with the Germans and the Indian National Army(INA) that fought along with the Japanese.
The provisional government of independent India was formed in 1943 by Bose and was recognized by the Axis powers but the British were petrified. The INA reached the gates of India and in battles at Kohima and Imphal had the better of the exchanges with the British army. Earlier they had driven the British out of Singapore and Burma but the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan ended the dream.
Boss reportedly died in an air crash in 1945 but that has never been confirmed and there have been reports that he was under the protection of Stalin till 1953 as the British wanted to try him as a war criminal.
The militancy of Boss and the dream of freedom had fired the Indian nation and at the end of the war, the Indian Army rebelled against British rule. There was the famous 1946 Navy mutiny in which British officers were shot dead and the Karachi action where the Gurkhas shot the British. The situation become alarming and Field Marshall Claude Auchinleck, the commander-in-chief of the Indian army informed Lord Clement Attlee the British Prime Minister that a situation similar to 1857 was being created and India could not be held by the British. He advised a graceful retreat. Atlee as leader of the Labor Party had in his manifesto already said they would give freedom to India and despite Churchill lobbying against it and asking for American help which was refused by Truman, Atlee passed the Government of India act, 1946 for freedom to India.
Lord Atlee after his retirement visited India and in an interview was asked what was the most momentous moment which made him decide to leave India. He had a clear answer and said that Gandhi had minimum effect on the freedom of India and the man who really galvanized the Indian army and made us realize that we can't stay here was Subhas Chandra Bose.
Denied his due
In 1947 the Nehru- Gandhi family took control of India, as Bose was not on the scene. A systematic attempt was started by the Congress party to minimize the role of Netaji in the freedom struggle, so much so that even his portrait was not allowed to be put up in parliament house by the Congress party and Nehru. Despite his achievement being acknowledged by the British and eminent historians like Arnold Toynbee, Leonard Mosley, and others his contribution was reduced to one line in the archives. The paranoid fear of Jawaharlal Nehru that Bose would return and unseat him, lead him to put the entire extended Bose family under the surveillance of the Intelligence Bureau.
More and more Bose was becoming a footnote in Indian history as well as the history of the world and hardly anybody in America or the West had heard about him. This was misinformation at its worst.
Many Indian people including eminent historians were not keeping quiet and were writing prodigious letters and research papers on the contribution of Subhas Bose, and once the Congress itself was defeated and made a footnote the return of Netaji and acknowledgment of his contribution to the freedom of India was inevitable. His portrait was installed in parliament house and all over India his birthday 23rd of January became a national solidarity symbol. His cry, 'give me blood and I will give you freedom' echoes in the minds of a billion Indians.
Honor at last
The western mindset focused on Gandhi and his non-violence, which in any case was a nonstarter as far as the freedom of India is concerned, I think takes the cake. The contribution of Bose was relegated to the background but all this is changing now and all over India the realization has come that Netaji was the greatest warrior India ever produced; a man of guts and iron, a man who never believed in caste and religion, a man who believed in 'one India' must be given his due.
The government has announced on Friday (January 21, 2022) that a grand statue of freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will be installed at India Gate. This would be a symbol of India's indebtedness to him. Until Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s statue, which will be cast in granite and be 28ft tall with a 6 ft base made of granite, is completed, a hologram statue of his would be present at the same place. The prime minister will unveil the hologram statue on January 23, the 125th birth anniversary of the leader.
The statue will be installed under the grand canopy built in the 1930s by Sir Edwin Lutyens and was once used to house a statue of the former king of England George V.
An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India by Shashi Tharoor (2016)- Amazon.
Subhas Chandra Bose- A Biography by IIeen Bear
His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India's Struggle against Empire-(2013) by Sugata Bose
© 2022 MG Singh emge