Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Birth Anniversary: History and significance


Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Birth Anniversary: On the occasion of the 124th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, we will look back on his life and all that he accomplished as one of the most celebrated young freedom fighters of India.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (23 January 1897 – 18 August 1945) is one of the most celebrated freedom fighters of India. In 1942, he earned the honorific title ‘Netaji’ (meaning “Respected Leader” in Hindi), in Germany by the Indian soldiers of the Azad Hind Fauj or the Indian National Army and by the German and Indian officials in the Special Bureau for India in Berlin. Netaji’s death is one of the most discussed and mysterious deaths in India, which has led to theories and conspiracies regarding his possible survival after his disappearance in 1945.

On the occasion of the 124th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, we will look back on his life and all that he accomplished as one of the most celebrated young freedom fighters of India.

Subhas Chandra Bosewas born on 23 January, 1897, in Cuttack, Orissa Division, Bengal Province, to Prabhavati Dutt Bose and Janakinath Bose, an advocate. He belonged to a well to do family and was the ninth of 14 children. Bose studied at Presidency College, Calcutta where he was later expelled for attacking a professor making racist remarks towards Indians. He then joined the Scottish Church College and earned his B.A in Philosophy. In 1919, under pressure from his father, Bose headed to London to give the Indian Civil Services (ICS) examination; he came fourth and was selected. Bose, however, resigned from Civil Services as he believed he could not side with the British.

In 1921, Bose worked under Chittaranjan Das, a powerful politician in Bengal. He worked as the editor for Das’s newspaper, Forward, and later started his own newspaper, Swaraj. In 1923, Bose was elected the President of the All India Youth Congress and also the Secretary of Bengal State Congress. He also served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, with Das as mayor of Calcutta. He was regarded as a vigilant and charismatic youth icon in the Indian National Congress. Bose was arrested countless times, and deported to Burma (Myanmar) in 1925 because he was suspected of connections with secret revolutionary movements. During the mid-1930s Bose travelled in Europe, visiting Indian students and European politicians, including Benito Mussolini. He observed party organisation and saw communism and fascism in action. In this period, he researched and wrote the first part of his book The Indian Struggle, which covered the country’s independence movement in the years 1920–1934.

When Bose returned to India, he took over as the elected President of Congress in 1938; he stood for unqualified Swaraj (self-governance) and the use of force against the British which then combated against Mahatma Gandhi and his views. Bose soon resigned from the presidency and formed the All India Forward Bloc, a faction within the Indian National Congress. He aimed at consolidating the political left, but was arrested again, and released following a seven-day hunger strike. Bose’s house in Calcutta was kept under surveillance by the CID.

In 1941, during his house arrest, Bose set the scene for his escape to Nazi Germany via Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. In Germany, in the Special Bureau for India under Adam von Trott zu Solz, Bose formed the Azad Hind Radio. He and other Indians who had gathered in Berlin made regular broadcasts from the Azad Hind Radio beginning in January 1942, speaking in English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, and Pashto. In 1943, Bose travelled to Tokyo, Japan via submarines and took leadership of the Indian Independence Movement in East Asia and proceeded, with Japanese aid and influence, to form a trained army of about 40,000 troops in Japanese-occupied Southeast Asia known as the Indian National Army.

The INA was first formed under Mohan Singh and Japanese Major Iwaichi Fujiwara, and comprised Indian prisoners of war of the British-Indian Army captured by Japan in the Malayan (present-day Malaysia) campaign and at Singapore. The army was declared to be the army of Bose’s Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind (the Provisional Government of Free India). Under Bose’s leadership, the INA drew ex-prisoners and thousands of civilian volunteers from the Indian expatriate population in Malaya and Burma.

In 1943, the troops of the INA were under the aegis of a provisional government, the Azad Hind Government, which came to produce its own currency, postage stamps, court and civil code, and was recognised by nine Axis states. Bose advanced to Rangoon, Myanmar after the capture of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, to make his way into India through Kohima and the plains of Imphal. In 1995, The British Indian Army retaliated to the capture of Manipur, Kohima and Imphal by killing almost half of the Japanese forces and the entire participating INA contingent.

The INA was driven down the Malay Peninsula and surrendered with the recapture of Singapore. Bose escaped to Manchuria with a view to seeking a future in the Soviet Union which he believed to be turning anti-British. He is said to have died from third-degree burns when his plane crashed in Taiwan on 18th August 1945. However, there was a theory according to which some people did not believe that the crash had occurred, and thought that Bose would return to gain India’s independence.

Bose is credited with the very famous slogan, “Give me blood, and I shall give you freedom!” as well as “Jai Hind. ” He is also credited to be the first man to call Mahatma Gandhi “Father of the Nation”, in his address from Singapore, when he also asked for his blessings and good wishes for the war he was fighting. Bose’s ashes are stored in the Renkōji Temple, in Tokyo. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will always be remembered for his sacrifices he made.