Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Subhas Chandra Bose (January 23, 1897-?)

AFTER Japan surrendered in 1945, Subhas Chandra Bose decided to contact the Russians in Manchuria and move to Moscow to draw support for the war of India's liberation. The ill-fated plane took off from the Saigon Airport at 5.30 p.m. on August 17, 1945 and stopped over in Tourane, where Subhas Chandra Bose and his party stayed overnight. When it resumed flight, the plane crashed soon after takeoff, killing all on board.

It comes as a surprise that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the firebrand revolutionary, was in his early years all set to renounce the world and become a sanyasi. He travelled in the Himalayas, met many hermits, and at the end of it was thoroughly disappointed with the experience. He came back and resumed his studies at Scottish Church College, graduated with a first class in philosophy and left for England to compete for the Indian Civil Service. He was successful but he soon resigned and joined the freedom struggle. He met M.K. Gandhi in 1921 who directed him to work with Chittaranjan Das (Later because of his revolutionary activities Bose was arrested and deported to the Mandalay jail. He was released in May 1927, because of his failing health).

Netaji was not exactly comfortable with Gandhi's non-violent methods, so he parted ways with him and founded the 'Forward Bloc'. He was detained again in 1940 and was kept under house arrest. In January 1941, he made a dramatic escape disguised as a Muslim, and after a long detour reached Berlin. Whatever hope he had of drumming up support for India's liberation were dashed as Hitler was too preoccupied with his own problems.

Disappointed, he went to Singapore in 1943, to boost the flagging morale of the Indian National Army, founded by Rash Behari Bose and Captain Mohan Singh. Netaji declared India free, and formed a provisional Government. As an 'independent country' Bose's India declared war on Britain and the USA but not on China and Russia.

In March 1944, the INA crossed the Indian border with the cries of 'Delhi Chalo'. As many as 16000 INA soldiers were martyred in action because their leader had demanded: 'Give me blood and I promise you freedom.'

Netaji's life is the stuff thriller novels are made of, and today, more than half a century after the air crash, many admirers of Netaji still believe that he is alive, but so far no one has been able to come up with any substantial proof. Unfortunately after independence, the successive governments did not do much to recognise the immense contribution he and his soldiers made in making India free.



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