On this day of 23rd January, we remember the patriot, mass leader, the analytic and bold statesman from the chapters of India’s Nationalist Movement, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
Observing this day officially as Parakram Divas gives a strong influence and essence to feel and commemorate the day by paying tributes to the legendary role played by him at the peak time of proceeding towards our light of freedom.
Through the journey of his entire political career, we come to know about the various stages and aspects related to his life. But not much of us know about his role as a strong activist, policymaker, or diplomat. Netaji’s political career began since the time he returned to India after resigning as a probationer from the Indian Civil Services in England.
Soon he joined the Nationalist Movement under the mentorship of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, at first as editor of his newspaper ‘Forward’ following the formation of the Swaraj Party in 1923 after the Delhi Congress Session. Following the appointment of Bose, Forward went on to become a leading local daily in India.
Bose had a special emphasis on guiding the youth and women to lead at the forefront. He formed the All Bengal Youth League and took its Presidency, which was an organization dedicated to the youth with the sole aim to prepare them physically, mentally, spiritually, intellectually, and psychologically strong to bring a revolutionary change in the society.
He encouraged the formation of clubs and associations in every major area of Bengal, which would be pioneer institutions in organizing and building youth power.
At the end of 1923, Bose went on to take the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation following Deshbandhu’s victory in the elections, who took charge as the first Mayor of Calcutta.
Under Bose’s term of office, he had declared wearing Khadi as the official uniform in the premises of a Municipal Corporation situated at the heartland of the Colonial Administration.
His efforts were integrated towards initiating new development in the era of civic progress. All his steps were aimed towards converting all major points of civic rights, progress, and freedom programs into concrete actions.
Some of the notable actions were beginning an Educational Department for the 1st time with appointing a dedicated Education Officer to look after the operations of primary and secondary schools for boys and girls, starting health associations and dispensaries in every locality of Calcutta.
It was aimed towards carrying out health-programs, medical treatment for poor people, and children’s clinics that distributed free milk for poor children. Promoting awareness amongst citizens was his concern, for which the “Calcutta Municipal Gazette’ was started besides workshops to promote handmade and locally produced goods.
Bose also took the task of launching a Satyagraha to democratize and clean the Tarakeshwar Temple of Hooghly district in Bengal, which gave a clear identity of him as a religiously concerned person too. He carried on his tradition to settle all inter-community questions as a mark of showing his sense of justice and generosity.
Basically, his religious affinity stems from the times of his childhood as he had been a strong believer in the monastic philosophies of Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna. Bose was of the view that “terrorism can never be accepted as a form national struggle, but historical truth can be a cause for a national liberation struggle”.
It may not be well known to most of us about his role as an unofficial Ambassador to Europe for India’s Nationalist Movement. However, during the time of his stay in Europe from 1933-36, he played a tactical and strategic role in spreading the propaganda of India’s Movement for the quest for freedom from British imperialism.
He started his activities from Austria and extended to France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, and Czechoslovakia. Even though he was denied permission to enter England, but he continued his efforts to influence the Indians staying in throughout Europe, mostly students who were receiving technical training in Germany.
He had played a key role in establishing the Indo-Austrian society at Vienna and also established successful contacts with various delegates, ministers, senior government officials in Germany. In Czechoslovakia, he established the India-Czechoslovakia Association in 1934, where he gained decisive support to sustain the struggle for Freedom.
The intellectual sphere of Europe containing scholars, teachers, scientists, economists, and authors also yielded strong moral support to carry on the fight against British imperialism. All revolutionary groups in Europe who were dissidents of yielding support to the revolutionaries in India and some Indians who were in exile since the outbreak of the First World War also yielded support.
To modernize India, Bose sought inspiration from Kemal Ataturk’s socio-economic reform movement in Turkey.
During the final stage of his stay in Europe, Bose reached the corridors of the League of Nations where he expressed his stand on the agenda of India’s Independence and even staged his criticisms and disappointment towards the poor functioning of the League and the counsels for ignoring the voice of the Indian people.
During his stay in Europe, he did not leave any single opportunity to spread his propaganda for India’s Freedom Movement. As a last resort, he arranged bulletins in English, French, and German that could be considered as the most progressive steps.
With an experience of the prevailing Socialist Governments and Parties in Europe, Subhash Chandra Bose made gave a clear understanding of the nature of Socialists. He pointed out that the Socialists lacked homogeneity, with poor and outdated programs, and had an unclear ideology and action plan.
He specified that the future parties of India should have a clear ideology with the help of which they can draw the favor of the masses and without any vested interests, but sadly which is not respected with sincerity by the present day’s political leaders. They should also support complete political and economic liberalization.
He stressed the fact that these parties should stand in favor of a Federal government as the ultimate goal under a strong central government entrusted with dictatorial powers for a brief period, which would help India to stand strong at her feet for the later future.
He laid a strong emphasis on planning to re-organize the agricultural and industrial life of India, which would help to break the gender, religion, caste, and creed based differences to build new social structures for the village communities. Most importantly, the party would also work towards abolishing landlordism and introduce a uniform system of land taxation for entire India.
The party must oppose Democracy in a mid-Victorian sense and should encourage a government led by a strong military discipline to prevent any chaos and corruption. The final aim of the party must be to unite all radical organizations under one national executive so that there is a united activity at the national scene.
Netaji was of the view that Communism would never be much successful in India due to reasons, as India’s politics and the Nationalist movement was nationalist in nature aimed towards national liberation of people.
“The Indian National Congress should be on the broadest anti-imperialist front with the two-fold objective of winning political freedom and the establishment of a Socialist regime.”
After learning of his European activities, Netaji was sent a summon letter by the British Government through its Counsel at Vienna. During his visit to London, he had a conversation with R. Palme Dutt, the leader of the Communist Party of Great Britain, to whom he specified and informed of his plans regarding the future role of Congress.
He had set forth, in the next stage, Congress would focus on increasing the mass consciousness, mobilizing, strengthening, and redirecting the force with building the party organization at the right lines. The main goal was to carry on the struggle at an all-inclusive front with a collective affiliation of labour and peasant organizations.
Regarding the operational criteria of the Indian National Congress, he stressed that ‘there must be a two-fold objective of winning political-freedom followed by the establishment of a socialist regime.’
During his Presidential address at Haripura, Netaji reminded the people of their task and duty to ‘fight against British Imperialism in the interest of other enslaved nations’. Britain practiced its ‘divide and rule’ policy in a very skilled and tactical manner but with a ruthless nature.
The Congress was deemed under the policy of non-interference with matters of conscience to religion and cultural autonomy for all linguistic areas of India. He reassured that Congress would fight the freedom movement based on a non-violent Satyagraha, with non-cooperation and civil disobedience at the widest term.
Netaji believed that the party which would be successful in winning freedom would enforce its policies and programs into administrative action in a Democratic manner to prevent the Indian state from becoming totalitarian, with its leaders getting elected at the grass-root level.
With having the 2nd World War at its peak, Netaji planned for a reconstruction task, covering all areas like illiteracy, poverty, diseases, scientific production, and distribution that would be conducted on a Socialistic nature. Netaji stressed the importance of setting up a Planning Commission with 3 immediate objectives, which were;
The presence of a strong central government that unifies and fortify India to withstand foreign invasions was a point addressed to all Congress workers working on minority community-based areas for ensuring cultural autonomy in commonality with governmental affairs.
Netaji was a quite visionary person oo; he stated the importance that the government would work towards tackling population control. It is quite difficult to afford the cost of maintaining a population growing beyond leaps and bounds. Even it is a major factor of perspiration for governments in today’s world while dealing with the population and distribution of resources on both hands.
Eradication of poverty would be the aim of reconstruction, supported by rearrangement of land reforms, liquidation of agriculture with modernization plans, and cooperative methods.
Agricultural development would require industrial development under state ownership at the same hand, which would thereby be the plan of action undertaken by the Planning Commission in the people’s interest.
At his time of first Presidency, the Congress successfully took office at 7 out of 11 provinces of British India. In a letter of the elected Chief Ministers, Netaji urged for observing a change of character and composition of bureaucracy to enforce all policies into action by laying down all reconstruction schemes for health, irrigation, land reforms in uniformity with the Congress Working Committee.
During his previous address at the Haripura Session of Indian National Congress, Bose made some major proposals regarding the organization of Congress;
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 23, 2021
Netaji took the initiative to establish a Planning Committee as a part of the Congress Organization. He appointed Jawaharlal Nehru as the Chairman to accept a proposal from the Working Committee of Planning Commission, which was published in Bombay in December 1938. Netaji gave major importance towards national planning based on certain conditions, such as;
There was massive support in favor of Subhash Chandra Bose within Congress to continue as President for a 3rd term, supporting which Nobel Laureate Poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote a letter to Mahatma Gandhi.
But during his presidency at the Tripuri session of Indian National Congress in 1939 was convinced of having a disciplined left bloc in Congress, or which he took the task of organizing the leftists. A sense of disgust got created within the moderate ranks of Congress, resulting in his resignation.
This was also followed due to scapegoating and interference in his job, and a lack of approval over his policies.
He even decided to make full use of the opportunity due to the outbreak of the Second World War by launching an armed revolution against the British Rule that would weaken and pressurize the British authorities and force them to surrender.
But, his decision was met with disagreement from Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru who were in favor of supporting the Britishers by agreeing to deploy the Indian Soldiers in the War Front.
However, his decision was considered as a positive step by many leaders and intellectuals, one of them was Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote a letter to Subhash Chandra Bose stating;
“The dignity and forbearance shown by you during an appreciating situation have won my admiration and confidence in your leadership. This same perfect decorum needs to be maintained by Bengal for the sake of her self-respect and thereby help turn your apparent defeat into a victory.”
Rabindranath Tagore gave a reception to Subhash Chandra Bose both at Shantiniketan and Calcutta, where he was honored with ‘Deshnaya.’.However, Bose established the Forward Bloc in May 1939 within the Indian National Congress.
The 1st Conference of All India Forward Bloc was held at Nagpur on June 22, 1939, which received great support and enthusiasm from all other former Congress workers.
The formation of Forward Bloc claimed to have created disunity within the Congress, as a response to which Bose answered that, “one should be able to distinguish in the superficial unity resulting into real unity of action from any inaction”.
Bose supported the view that independence from British Rule could be achieved by total economic blockade, mass civil disobedience movement, with complete non-cooperation or non-payment of taxes along with an armed revolution.
After all these situations, the time came, which followed his great escape to Peshawar after a chain of events, such as the establishment of the Azad Hind Government with the help of Adolf Hitler’s Government in Berlin.
His efforts to set up the ‘Free India Mission’ in Berlin attracted successful diplomatic recognition of around 9 countries such as; Germany, Italy, Japan, Thailand, China, Burma, Philippines, Croatia, and Singapore.
As a whole, Netaji’s activities in Europe and East Asia could be understood concerning his; ideological commitment, his strategic objectives in terms of his commitment, and his tactics most suited for the attainment of strategic objectives under the existing international situation.
The Free India Centre under the Provisional Government of Free India had set up a Planning commission for the social and economic reconstruction of India after her independence, which adopted the tri-color as the National Flag; Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Jana Gana Mana’ as the national anthem and ‘Jai Hind’ as a form of official greeting.
The historic Battles of Moirang, Imphal, and Kohima brought popularity and fame to the Azad Hind Fauj, which are remarkable incidents at the chapter of India’s history. These 3 battles had been won by an army of 43,000 soldiers with the Rani Jhansi Regiment.
His sense of respect for women to be the torchbearers of the freedom movement was at the widest sense; he called the regiment a ‘Death Defying Regiment’. On the formation of this regiment, Netaji said;
“I want a brave unit of Indian women to form a ‘Death-defying Regiment’ who will wield the sword, which the brave Rani of Jhansi wielded in India’s 1st war of independence in 1857”.
It is based on some of these ideals and the city of the Indian National Army. The present-day Indian Army has inherited and grown.
Since the last 73 years of India’s independence, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose has always held strong respect, pride, generosity, and an emotional belief amongst Indians at home and abroad. But still, his death remains a chapter shrouded in the blanket of deep mystery with controversial theories.
Despite these circumstances, Netaji still holds a strong ground in the hearts and minds of the on-loving patriotic and charming youth of India. However, it must be the governments’ duty at India’s states and the center to respect and protect the rich legacy and philosophy of Netaji.
To keep his legacy and task as memories, there must be detailed chapters in the pages of History texts rather than making idols wherever possible or using the name as a part of an anonymous object, which can hurt the associated pride and dignity.
On this day of observing the 125th Birth Anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, this must be the pledge for all concerned citizens of this nation.