Subhas Chandra Bose, the sixth son of Jankinath Bose, was born in a Kayastha family on January 23, 1897 at Cuttack in Orissa, where he lived for the first sixteen years of his life. The family in which Subhas was born was regarded as a well-to-do middle-class family. Naturally he had no personal experience of what want and poverty meant, and he had no occasion to develop those traits of selfishness, greed, and the rest which are sometimes the unwelcome heritage of indigent circumstances in one's early life. At the same time, there was not that luxury and lavishness in his home which has been the ruin of so many promising but pampered young souls or has helped to foster a supercilious, high-brow mentality in them. Considering their worldly means, bis parents tried to bring up their children in an atmosphere of simplicity and discipline. So was the case with Subhas.
Bose's early education (upto High School standard) was obtained in Cuttack. These were the years of violence. In them the frustrated nationalism of Bengal, tinged with religious revivalism, spread from the few to the many, till the whole province was in the grip of terrorism. The partition of Bengal in 1905 had precipitated the mischief. This measure, proposed for cogent administrative reasons, was carried out in the teeth of Hindu opinion and sentiment. Bengali nationalism, rooted in a language and literature of its own, and older than any all-India feeling, saw it as a wanton outrage ard challenge to patriotism. Agitation against the British became hysterical. There seemed to the nationalists no hope of a peaceful liberation : "Only military power, actual or potential, could drive out the British."48
The repeal of partition in 1911 had brought some relief, but there seemed to be no reconciliation. The target was simply foreign rule. In fact, Bengal dreamt dreams of revolt, and her poets sang great songs of freedom. These were the songs of Bose's boyhood, which he must have heard. His own family background was in no way less conducive to this sort of nationalist spirit. His father was an able, public-spirited lawyer of broad social interests and orthodox nationalism : from 1905 he was Public Prosecutor in Cuttack and from 1912 a member of Bengal Legislative Council. Bose's mother
great political thinkers
was also a srong and.sensible woman who mlcd her large family firmly. By and large, it was a healthy and disciplined home, and Bose learnt to respect industry and good behaviour.
His uneasiness at games, his dissatisfaction with an English atmosphere in the Baptist Missionary School wherein he passed his first seven years, and his attraction for nature made him a reserved and serious boy—an avod reader, introspective, his mind turning in upon itself in a precocious concern for religious truth, self-control and psychic harmony. The sadhtis and pilgrims at Puri, near his home, attracted him ; he was fascinated by yoga and myticism. During his college period in Calcutta, he developed a quick active, compassion, which would drive him to seek opportunities of social service, a slow political awakening and some contact with the secret societies of Calcutta. The conflict between mystic and man of action thus came during the period of his education. At the age of fifteen, he came by chance on the writings of Swami Vivekananda who taught salvation through service, service to humanity, particularly to Mother India. He read all he could of Vivekananda and his master, the saintly and ascetic Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Selfless service became the ideal of his life. He began to read philosophy at the Presidency College, Calcutta.
Formal philosophic study served only to intensify his inner struggle. How was the ideal to be attained ? In 1914, unknown to his parents, he went with a friend on a search through Northern India, looking for a spiritual mentor to show him his way. But he returned disillusioned to his sorrowing family. Nevertheless, in the disillusion that followed his vain pilgrimage, political activism began to assert its hold on Subhas. He was already a leader among the students, playing a full part in college life.
Then there occurred the incident which Bose afterwards called the turning point of his career : he was expelled from his college for his leading part in an assault on one of the English lecturers. The lecturer had been indiscrete and impatient, and the students too were ready to take offence. When the lecturer was assaulted, Bose was present and his leadership was taken for granted : he would neither deny it nor apologise, and was expelled in February 1916.
This interrupted his studies for a year. But it left an indelible impression on his mind. At Cambridge, later on when he was able to see more of Englishmen and feel for the first time the colour bar against Indians abroad, the old prejudices returned, and he felt that such arrogance was intolerable. He was sent to England in 1919 to imbibe the best spirit of that country and forget his past experiences of social arrogance With many misgivings he had agreed to go to qualify for the Indian Civil Service. But this was no change of heart: to enter the Indian Civil Service was still consistent with Indian nationalism, and the examination would serve him as a final test of his superiority over the European. His over-sesitivity easily found for him several examples of racial prejudice in England. Bose passed
SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE
the Civil Service open competitive examination brilliantly in 1920. attaining fourth place, a considerable achievement for one who had been in England barely eight months. To be in the Indian Civil. Service meant for him an easy access to power and glory, but Bose hated such an easy path. He had his eyes and cars open, and saw and heard things for himself. So he returned a rebel.
For his hatred against the British rule in India and his love for the freedom of his motherland, Bose could not remain in Indian Civil Service. In 1920, when despite official action against General Dyer and the repudiation of his methods by the House of Commons, the English people as a whole appeared to support what he had done. Gandhiji had turned against the British Government in India. The Indian National Congress adopted his programme of non-cooperation and his call to Indians to renounce their British titles and appointments. Subhas thought over the matter seriously and made up his mind in January 1921. He decided to offer himself for work at the Congress National College in Calcutta, and on the new Nationalist paper Swaraj. He resigned from the Indian Civil Service in April. 1921.
Now the future was well set for Subhas Bose. His fate was tied with that of his motherland, and he was to work for her emancipation and had to undergo all kinds of hardships and hazards in life which seemed to be inevitable on the path of his mission. He returned to India in July 1921 to throw himself at the feet of Gandhiji. Gandhiji had just made his promise of independence for India within a year, and Bose had put his own interpretation upon it. His return then was as a would-be revolutionary, eager to be called upon for some deedof daring that would justify, to himself and to his family, his spectacular sacrifice of orthodox brilliance. He found Gandhiji in Bombay and experienced fascination for him.
For the next two years, Bose served a hard political apprenticeship under the guidance of Mr. C. R. Das—in theCongress National College of which hewas the Principal, on theNationalist newspaper Swaraj, and as member in charge of publicity on the executive of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee. Mr. Das was a more aggressive nationalist than Gandhiji, even as Bengal Congress opinion was more turbulent than that of the Congress as a whole. Bose won his confidence and soon he was at the heart of Congress affairs in Calcutta. He attended Gandhiji's secret conference in September 1921, taking down the Mahalma's answers and listening to his instructions for the new non-cooperation programme. He also took a prominent part in the agitation against the Prince of Wales's visit. But Bose felt highly disappointed and was overwhelmed with indignation when Gandhiji, following the ChauriChaura incident, withdrew his civil disobedience in 1922.
At the Congress Assembly of December 1922, C.R. Das as President, sought backing for his new ideas: Bose was his secretary and
GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS
active partisan. But although Gandhi was in goal, his influence against the policy of 'Council entry', as it was called, was too strong, and a month later Das resigned to form his own 'Swarajya Party' and contest the 1923 elections. In April, 1924, the 'Swarajists won control of the Calcutta Corporation. Das became Mayor of Calcutta and Subash Bose was elected Chief Executive Officer. Under its new constitution, the Corporation of Calcutta was largely independent and Bose found himself a privileged official with wide powers.
But Bose's downfall was soon being prepared. There had been in 1923 a recrudescence of violence in Bengal, and the Swarajists were believed to be actively involved in terrorism. In 1924, the situation grew worse. In October 1924 when the suspected terrorist leaders were rounded up under an emergency ordinance, Bose too was arrested though he had no active hand in the conspiracy against the British. No charge was ever brought against him. For two months he performed his municipal duties in Alipore Jail, and then in February 1925, he was removed with seven others to the graat fort of Mandalay in Burma.
Bose remained in Mandalay for nearly two years, but these two years were to be among the most important in his life. There he turned a seasoned politician. When he left prison in 1927, he had a clear political conception of his own. Mr. Das was dead, and he was widely regarded as the natural leader of Bengal after Das. His political conclusions were : The future constitution of India would be republican ; there must be no repressive ordinances : barriers of wealth, class and caste must go; women must have equality of status with men, and there should be no distinction between Hindu and Muslim at election times. He regarded communal representation in the legislatures as a device of dividing India and supports foreign rule. He was sure that if the communal question was ignored, it would automatically vanish : and he held this view to the close of his life.
In November 1927, Bose was elected Chairman of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee. In the same month, a British Parliamentary Commission, known as Simon Commission, was appointed to consider the next step in India's constitutional development. But Indian nationalism had long been thinking in terms of early Dominion Status. For Bose, this ideal also appeared to bs too short of his dream of full freedom. And so he roared : "Consecrate your lives at the altar of freedom,1 India shall be free; the only question is when.'3 Of Subhas it may be said that although he did not hesitate, on occasion, to oppose the majority, he never doubted the crowd's authority if its voice agreed with him. In this lay great danger, for his driving vehemence was such that he could carry a crowd with him and then himself be carried away by the enthusiasm he had generated.
Hindustan Times, December 18, 1929.
Ibid., November 29, 1929.
subhas chandra bose
1928 had given Bose, new opportunities for distinction in Congress affairs, a rising distinction which held him in the long drawn-out process of establishing his political succession to C. R. Das in Bengal. With Jawaharlal Nehru, he had become a General Secretary of the Congress in December 1927. He was a member of the All Parties Committee which worked out in the summer of 1928 an Indian answer to the challenge of the Parliamentary Commission. When this answer recommended acceptance of Dominion Status, he shared with Mr. Nehru in the forrm tion of 'Indian Independence League' to campaign against any qualification of independence. But the next crisis in the Iudian struggle wa* now drawing near. In October 1929, Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, announced that Dominion Status was the 'natural issue' of India's constitutional progress, and that a Round Table Conference would be held after the publication of the report of the Parliamentary Commission. For few weeks, it seemed that this gesture would win the cooperation of the nationalist leaders, but the phase passed and 1930 saw the commencement of a full-scale civil disobedience campaign. Bose was arrested on his birthday. January 23, for leading an Independence procession, and sentenced to a year's imprisonment.
But he was soon released as he was injured in April. And when he emerged from prison on September 25,1930, he was Mayor of Calcutta, because the elected Mayor—also a prisoner—had failed to take oath within six months. He was also elected as Chairman of the All India Trade Union Congress. He was again arrested on January 26, 1931 for leading a demonstration on'Independence Day'. Six weeks later, he was released with other political prisoners under the agreement between Gandhiji and the Viceroy, known as the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. There followed ten months of liberty before the new crisis, on Gandhiji's return from the Second Round Table Conference in London in December 1931, led to a new trial of strength.
While Gandhiji had been negotiating, Bose had abstained from embarrassing him, although he found no hope of a successful settlement of the issue. But as the unrest of 1931 began to grow, he became a thorough nuisance to the authorities in Bengal. He was naturally included in the general arrests of leading Congressmen on the 2nd January 1932, But he was released on February 22, 1933 on the ground of ill health with an instruction that he would go to Europe for the medical treatment recommended by his doctors. And he entered Dr. Furth's sanatorium in Vienna on March 11, 1933.
In Vienna Bose met Sardar Viuhalbhai Patel who was also invalid and receiving treatment there. The two men watched events in India closely. In April, Gandhiji's correspondence with the Viceroy showed a softer mood, and about a month later (May 8th) the former suspended the civil disobedience campaign for which he had gone to prison in 1932. To both Bose and Patel this kind of gesture of Gandhiji appeared to be atotal surrender. Bose remarked to a journalist : "Gandhiji is anold, useless piece of furniture. He had
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done good service in his time but is an obstacle now."' The Round Table Conference, Bose held, had been a waste of time, for "no real change in history has ever been achieved by discussions. The only alternative is war !"*
The above remarks of Bose not only show his total disagreement with Gandhiji's weak-kneed policy, but they also indicate his future plan of action.
In November 1934, Bose published his own account of Indian nationalism, The Indian Struggle. In it he rejected both cooperation with the constitution and the compromises of a wavering, declining Gandhi, and pointed to a new way for India, a middle way. This lay not between democracy and dictatorship, but between Communism and Fascism, two different forms of dictatorship. Bose had been stirred by what he had seen in Rome and Istanbul—a strong party organization in the one, Mustapha Kemal's swift modernisation of a backward oriental state in the other. India, he thought, was in need of material and social reconstruction on the same scale and must, b e governed by a dictator. There must be "a strong Central Government by a strong party bound together by military discipline."8 Only by these means could India be held together while she was achieving statehood.
Bose was much perturbed by the way Gandhiji played his cards at the Round Table Conference. He did not appreciate the simple humanity and the open-heartedness with which Gaudhiji dealt with situation. Gandhiji should have spoken, he felt, at the Round Table Conference with a firm voice of political strength. He writes in The Indian Struggle : "If the Mahatma had spoken in the languag e of Dictator Stalin, of Duce Mussolini or Fuhrer Hitler, John Bull would have understood and bowed his head in respect."49 Bose was of the opinion that a nation could never be built on the principle of expediency. He said that the task of winning freedom required great moral preparations ; and in support of his conviction he repeated Vivekananda's statement that there was no realization without renunciation, and that for political freedom it was essential to undergo highest sufferings.
6 The Indian Struggle, Thacker Spink & Co., Calcutta (1948), pp. 344-45.
In politics, Bose was a realist in spite of his belief in the philosophy of self-realization and suffering for the welfare of others. As a realist, he came to believe that mere political freedom was not enough for India, and that 'internal social struggle' between the landlord and peasant, the capitalist and labourer, the rich and the poor
SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE
could not be postponed. He also felt that the 'haves' in the Indian society would ultimately join the British Government for the safety of their vested interests. This is what the course of history tells. He writes, "The logic of history will, therefore, follow its inevitable course. The political struggle and social struggle will have to be conducted simultaneously. The party that will win political freedom for India will also be the party that will win social and economic freedom for the masses."*
During the course of his political activities, Bose had come apparently under the influence of Marxism and seemed to be apparently committed to a socia'ist society. He was also recognised as a forceful spokesman of the leftist forces. But he was never committed to any ideology whole-heartedly, and he had his own interpretation of Leftism or Socialism. In his Presidential address at the All India Compromise Conference, held at Ramgarh on March 19, 1940, Bose explained his meaning of Leftism : "A word is necessary here in order to explain
what we mean by Leftism Our main task in this age is to end
imperialism and win national independence ..Those who waver and
vacillate in this struggle against imperialism cannot be by any
means Leftists. In the next phase of our movement, Leftism will be
synonymous with Socialism "• As Bose was deeply rooted in the
concepts of Hindu metaphysical philosophy, he could not accept the materialistic dialectics of Marxism. But he was a socialist in the sense that he considered the problems "relating to the eradication of poverty, illiteracy and disease and to scientific production and distribution" to be tackled effectively along socialistic lines."1' He strongly pleaded for the abolition of landlordism and liquidation of agricultural indebtedness. He accepted the necessity of incorporating scientific techniques into agriculture. At the same time, he sponsored a comprehensive scheme of industrial development under state-ownerslvp and state controll.50
8 Ibid., pp. 413-14.
9 Sitaramayya, Dr. Pattabhi, History of the Indian National Congress, Vol. L, Padma Publications, Bombay, 1946, pp. 330-31.
10 Varma, Dr. V. P., Modern Indian Political Thought, Lakshmi
Narain Agarwal, Agra, 1980, p. 577.
12 Indian Struggle, p. 120.
Bose rightly came to understand that the Indian people would never be sympathetic to the anti-religious and atheistic Communism, because in India there was no hostility against religion as it happened to be in Russia due to the support of the Orthodox Church to the Czarist autocracy. Further, he felt that in free India the state would act as an organ of the masses, and hence there would be no need to repeat the story of class-conflict that occurred in Soviet Russia.1* And Bose ultimately hoped that a revitalized leftist party would grow in India, because the Congress under the leadership jf Gandhiji was "a
GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS
conglomerate sttucture trying somehow to combine socially heterogeneous and even antithetical elements."1*
Socialism, Fascism andForward Bloc
Gandhism was almost staggering in 1933. Bose's differences with the Congress High Command were not confined only to Gandhism and the Gandhian policy of the Congress. About Communal Award too he had crossed swords with them. He had during his brief visit to India in those days denounced the official stand of the Congress about the Communal Award. In this he had the entire Bengal behind him. In fact, the Congress High Command was not the only opponent of Subhas Bose. He had during his visit abroad hit at all political parties—the Communists as well as the Congress socialists.
After the Munich Pact in September 1938, Bose began an open propaganda throughout India in order to prepare the Indian people for a national struggle which synchronised with the coming of war in Europe. Throughout 1938, he repeatedly advised the Congress Socialist Party to broaden its platform and form a left bloc for rallying all the radical and progressive elements in the Congress. But this was not done. "The mistake of the C.S.P., said Bose, "was that it talked too much of socialism, which was after all a thing of the future. India's immediate requirements were an uncompromising struggle with
British imperialism Gandhism had been found wanting, because it
was wedded to non-violence and therefore contemplated a compro-
mise with Britain for the solution of the Indian problem A party
was needed which could remedy these defects and bring about the complete liberation of India."51
In 1938 at Haripura, Bose was unanimously elected as President of the Congress Party. But the alliance between Bose and Gandhiji in 1938 remained precarious, and as the year passed the breach between them seemed to be inevitable. At the presidential election in January 1939, Bose was vigorously opposed by the Gandhian wing as well asby Pt. Nehru. Nevertheless, Bose was victorious with a comfortable majority. The Meb^trra suffered a public defeat. When Bose, as President, made a ei«ar proposal at the annual session of the Congress that the Indian National Congress should immediate!) setd an ultimatum to the British Government demanding indepecdedce within six months, it was opposed by the Gandhian wing and Nehiu, and was thrown out. Consequently, Bose resigned the presidentship of the Congress on 29th April, 1939, and immediately proceeded to form a radical party, bringing the entire left wing under one banner. This party was called the Forward Bloc. The first President of the Bloc was Subhas Bcsc, and its Vice-President was Sardar Sardul Singh Cavesheer of Punjab.
13 Ibid., pp. 427-28.
From May 1939 onward the propaganda offensive of theFor-
subhas chandra bose
ward Bloc was in full swing. In July, the Gandhi wing reacted by trying to curb this activity. On some pretext or the other, 'disciplinary action' was taken against some members of the Bloc by the Congress Working Committee. But this only served to strengthen the morale of the Bloc members and to increase their popularity among the masses.
When Forward Bloc was formed after the Calcutta Session of A.I.C.C., Subhas Bose declared that its' object was to consolidate all the Leftist elements in the country under its banner, so thatvthe Left might be able to have alternative leadership in the Congress. The Rightists, he said, had refused tocooperate with them, and it was therefore essential to have a separate party which should offer opposition to the programme of Rightists, i.e., the devotion to Parliamentary activities to the exclusion ofall other forms ofpolitical action. A Left consolidation committee was formed in which the Socialists, the Communists, the members ofRoy group and the Left Nationalists of Bose group participated. But this coalition met the same fate in India which fell to Left parties in Germany on the rise of Hitler ; German S.D.P. which had been talking about general strike if Hitler assumed power capitulated without firing a shot. In India, this role was played by the C.S.P. For so long actively remaining anti-Gandhist, it could not unite with other left parties when the crucial moment came. In fact, Bose had failed to satisfy them on certain vital issues. They were doubtful about the future policy of Forward BIcc. They disliked its foreign policy also. The differences between the policy ofBose and the Congress appeared to ihe Socialists as slight. In spite of their past association with Bose they never looked upon him as one of them. They had respected him as a great patriot with mildly socialist view, and faith in extreme nationalism. To understand why the For-woard Bloc was coldshou'dered by the Socialists, let us remember the opinion ofJawaharlal Nehru. Nehru hrd said that "allsorts of people had come into the Forward Blcc— opportunists, people who had one or other grievances against Congress High Command, extreme nationalists, and men who if the war broke out in Europe would favour the countries which politically inspired them, namely, Germany and Italy."18 And the rciult of the opposition of the Socialists was that Forward Bloc was isolated from its very inception. The left consolidation broke without doing anything.
"Anti-Fascist and Anti-Nazi" sentiment was on the increase ever since the Italo-Abyssinian War, and such an attitude was adopted by the Congress in its foreign policy under the influence of Jawaharlal Nehru. Bose thus found in 1938-39 the Congress following a foreign Policy entirely different from what he had enunciated in 'Samavadya Sangh' in Europe in 1934-35. His idea then was to organise a new radical party bearing the stamp of ideas preached in Germany and Italy at that time. The party which he then envisaged would try to synthesize some of the principles of both Fascism and Communism.
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Describing tho points of resemblance between Communism and Fascism Bose said, "In spite of the antithesis between the two, there are certain trails common to both. Both believe in the supremacy of the State over the individual. Both denounce parliamentary democracy. Both believe in party rule. Both believe in the dictatorship of the party in the ruthless suppression of all dissenting minorities. Both believe in a planned industrial organization of the country. These common traits will form the basis of the new synthesis. This synthesis is known as 'Samavadya'—an Indian word, which literally means the doctrine of synthesis."18 But in 1938-39 the situation in India had changed, and Bose had to adjust himself accordingly. Forward Bloc was formed, more or less, on the pattern of 'Samavadya Sangh'. Now his main plank of attack on' the Congress High Command was that it was Rightist, Hitlerite and pursuing Fascist methods. Just as the Liberals had won the election in 1918 in England on slogan of'Hang the Kaiser', so Bose had won Tripuri election on the slogan of 'End Fascism in the Congress'. It is a strange irony of fate that the man who had so much praise for Hitler's organisation when abroad should have to launch his campaign in India by calling his political opponents—'Hitlerites'. And he was not wrong in that. The Congress High Command was using Hitlerite methods : but if he had been in power, he would have done the same only more ruthlessly and more efficiently.
Bose had condemned Hitlerism and he continued to condemn it. In this sense his stand in 1939 was different from 1935. But it was only about foreign policy. About Forward Bloc it may be said that after it had tried to get other left parties inside it and failed, it stuck to one province—Bengal, with minor following in other parts of India. There it was organised and run on the lines Subhas Bose wanted his 'new political party' to function. It believed in leader-principle, organisation of youth, military discipline, changing the standard of living of the workers and peasants to a high level, one party state, and most of other doctrines of'Samavadya Sangh4.
It was thus a synthesis of Socialism and Fascism. With the outbreak of World War 11, the situation slightly altered. He was invited to attend the Working Committee of the Congress, although he was not its number. The Gandhists did not wish to ignore him at such a time. But Bose soon discovered that the foreign policy which the Congress wished to follow was not his, but of Jawaharlal, who had flown all the way from China to take part in the working Committee meeting. The Congress wanted to denounce German action and negotiate with Britain. Subhas Bose left the meeting, because he felt that his presence was of no use there. His view about the war crisis was that he was opposed to Hitlerism, but he liked to turn this opportunity to India's best advantage. Speaking at Delhi on October 12, 1939, he said : "I am opposed to Hitlerism whether in India, within the Congress or any other country, but it appears to me that Socialism is the only alternative to Hitlerism. 1 do not think
16 Ibid., p. 45.
subhas chandra bose
Britain and France are to welcome the rise of socialists to power in Germany as they were already supreme in Russia. All European countries would come under the influence of socialists if they came into power in Germany and France besides Soviet Russia."17
Subhas Bose believed in Socialism, but it was not the socialism of Nehru, C.S P. or of the communists. It meant taking some of the principles of socialism, and applying them in a one^paity statesociaiism as far as it was laid down in the principles of Forward Bloc'. This fact is important because while the socialism of Nehru, C S.P. and the Communists led them to interpret war as an imperialist war, Bose, who was an extreme nationalist and anti-British above all things, did not look upon the situation as they looked. After the first few weeks' denunciation of Hitlerism he became more and more interested in what India was going to get out of the war.
Escape from India and I.N.A.
As already made clear, Subhas Bose was an aggressive nationalist and his differences with the Congress, as also with C.S.P., increased to the highest degree by 1940. In India, he saw no prospect of procecdinp with his plan. His 'Forward Bloc' was also not successful due to non-cooperation of the socialists and communists, particularly on the matter of foreign policy. Hence, "1 was anxious to get out of India in order to render greater service to my country."1' His conviction was that the British would not quit India until and unless they were thrown out by a bloody revolution. The British had never freed any country willingly. He mentioned Ireland by way of example. Ireland passed through the fire ofpurgatory and after seven hundred years of struggle and sufferings she sould win her freedom, but stili Ulster was there. The British people were engaged in a mortal struggle in the World War II and for the sake of independence of India, Indians should take advantage ofthe psychological world situation. The British had created such a situation in India as made a successful revolution an impossibility. History tells us that all successful revolutions were brought about with the help of a foreign power. Russia and America won their independence with the help of Germany and France respectively."19 Bose had perfect faith in India's destiny and was prepared to stake every drop of his blood for her liberation.
Now the question was how and wherefrom to receive a modicum of military support to break through the crust, as it were, of British power. Bose had once admired Mussolini ; about Hitler he had also cherished no illusions Tl.n Axis, he thought, would certainly Win, but it would not give disinterested help to India. Russia, he seemed to have thought, who still remembered the agony of her own revolution, might understand India's need. Somebody had to be the
Ibid., p. 78.
Sharma, Sri Ram (Ed.). Netaji : His Life and Work, Shiva Lai Agarwal & Co., Agra (1948), p. 149.
Ibid, p. 156.
xxtii GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS The first broadcast to the world over the (secret) Azad Hind Radio was made on February 19, 1942.
emissary, somebody well-known, who would be taken seriously. These were the thoughts which perturbed his mind in jail at the end of the year 1940. But first he was to get out of prison. Knowing that the Government would not allow him to die in goal, he announced that he would starve himself to death, if he was not released.
So eloquent was his moral protest that the Government could not dare to ignore it. Having resisted forcible feeding, Bose was released after six days of his fast and allowed to go home. He returned to his home, and there he was almost 'in retreat' for a few days and would receive nobody. On January 16, 1941, a few of his friends noticed that he wore a neat beard. On January 17, 1941, he left Calcutta disguised as a Muslim religious teacher, Maulvi Ziauddin. Soon he managed to elude the all-powerful British C.I.D. and the police and escaped from this unhappy land.
Bose's disappearance became known in Calcutta on January 26. It was the day fixed for his trial for sedition, but he was not to be found. Via Peshawar and Kabul, Bose reached Moscow on March 27, stayed there for a night, and on the next morning he flew from Moscow to Berlin. Although his presence in Germany was not officially admitted, he was still referred to as Sigtior Orlando Massotta. His Excellency Massotta, as they called him from the beginning of 1942. became known to more and more people in Berlin. It was there that 'Jai Hind' was first used. Some of the younger men volunteered for the Legion—the formation of an Army of Free India, and with emotion he gave to each man a flower, all he could offer in his exile. To them all he was now 'Netaji', revered leader, a title he was to make peculiarly his own.
In Germany, Bose set up an office which he called the 'Indian Independence League', or'Free India Centre'. In December 1941, 'Azad Hind Radio' w3s also set up." He also visited Italy and had discussions with the Duce. Meanwhile the Japanese had made swift advances in the East. Bose tried to pressurize both Hitler and Mussolini to make a tripartite declaration in favour oflndian independence with the cooperation of Japan. Mussolini seemed to be in favour of this proposal of Bose and also urged him to set up a 'Counter Government'. The Japanese too were eager for such a step, but Hitler did not like the idea. Hitler's reaction was : "However, emigre governments must not live too long in a vacuum. Unless they have some actuality to support them, they only exist in the realm of theory."52 However, Bose was allowed to go ahead with his plan. Azad Hind Fauj (Free India Army) was raised in 1941, and the recruits were the prisoners of war from North Africa. By the end of January 1943, the Second Battalion was at full strength : and the third began to form in February 1943.
SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE xxiv
But Bose could not stay in Germany any more. He saw his hope to be better and more successfully realized with the assistance of Japan than through Germany and Italy. However, he had to wait for eight months before his passage to Japan could be arranged. He reached Tokyo on June 13, 1943, after a tedious journey of eighteen weaks.
His welcome in the Far East was sure : the turbulent past, the still mysterious escape from India, his negotiations with the Dictators, and his achievement in Europe—all guaranteed that. He was already known to the people in Tokyo and Singapore. His work, The Indian Struggle, had been published in Malaya in August 1942. Before his coming to Japaa, a conference of representatives of Indians from all over East Asia was held under the presidentship of Rash Behari Bose, and it was decided there to raise an Indian National Army under the command of Captain Mohan Singh. The names of volunteers who wished to join the army were asked amongst the Indian prisoners of war. Within a couple of months the INA was organised with the blessings of the Japanese Government, and it was officially inaugurated on the 1st September 1942 in Singapore. Bose inspected the INA on July 1, 1943, and took a General Salute. It was on this day that he declared that our goal was Delhi and to hoist our Tricolour Flag on the Red Fort, and that he gave the slogan 'Chalo Delhi'.
Nearly three months after, on October 21, 1943, the Provisional Government of Azad Hind was established, and its first act was to declare war on Britain and America. This Government was subsequently recognised by no less than nine countries. It was also ->n this day that the Rani of Jhansi Regiment Training Camps were started simultaneously in Singapore and Rangoon. The donations were received from all over the Far East to run the Army and the Government. Bose's determinalion to abolish or ignore caste, religious and sex distinctions had a salutary influence on the officers and soldiers of the Army. For them, everything was Jai Hind. Their devotion to the Motherland and their determination to free India from the yoke of British imperialism kept them united even in their hard days.
The INA's battle for India's liberation in a way began on February 4: 1944, from the mountainous region of the Arakans on the Indo-Burma border. The actual thrust of the army was in eight sectors, westwards towards Kohima and Imphal, northwards towards Patel, to the rear of Imphal and southwards towards Akyab. In May, the INA forces also crossed the Indo-Burma border from the southern direction. Now the British had to fight the last ditch battle. The Imphal campaign due to lack of reinforcements in men and supplies to the fighting front and torrential rains was, however, suspended in August 1944. Thereafter, the war situation gradually deteriorated. In the afternoon of August 15, 1945, Tokyo formally announced the surrender of Japan. On the next morning, Bose left Singapore in a plane with Col, Habibar Rahman to make again 'an adventure into the unknown'. In September 1945, the three INA Commanders (Shah Nawaz. Sehgal and Dhillon) were made prisoners by the British.
great political thinkers
who were to be tried by court martial in Red Fort (Delhi)-in the forthcoming November (5th November, 1945). Was Subhas Bose a Fascist ?
In spite of the fact that Subhas Bose studied philosophy, was given to philosophic contemplation at times, and had a decisive influence of Vivekananda (upon his mind) from whom he had drawn the ideals of fearless manhood and the good of humanity, his approach to the question of political freedom for India was quite positive and realistic.
No doubt, Bose lived in Germany for about two years (from 1941 to 1943) and had urged both Ribbentrop (Foreign Minister of Germany) and Hitler to make a declaration in favour of Indian independence. But he had no misgivings about the feeling of Indian people for Fascism. When Bose met Ribbentrop in Vienna in April, 1941, he had told him frankly that "Indian people had no sympathy for Fascism". Only a decisive guarantee of independence could influence a section in India to cooperate with Germany. Bose claimed for an official German declaration of India's independence which Ribbentrop refused.11 Bose also met Mussolini on the 5th May, 1942, and convinced him of the need for a declaration on India's independence. Accordingly, the Italian Government informed the German Government that Mussolini favoured public support of Indian independence.11 Keeping in view Mussolini'sassurance to Hitler on 29th April, 1942 at Salzburg that Italy would not support Bose's demand, the revised decision of Mussolini to recognise India's right for independence proved Bose's great diplomatic skill.
However, Hitler whom Bose met on May 29,1942, did not agree to his proposal. Hitler made it clear that an immediate declaration of India's right to self-determination could not be of any political value. He also remarked that according to him India would not be able to rule b^rself for another 150 years. This annoyed Bose, and he angrily told Von Trott in English : "Please tell His Excellency that I have been in politics all my life and that I do not need advice from anyone."28 Bose was advised by Hitler to join the Japanese in order to carry his revolutionary struggle from the borders of India into the country itself. Hitler's intransigence thus deprived Bose of his success in extracting a joint Axis declaration on India. Bose felt highly disgusted and annoyed by the attitude of Hitler. And when in the middle of 1942 the German authorities wanted to utilize the Indian Legion to disturb the British war efforts in India, Bose, according to Harbich and Lever Kuehn, resisted their attempt with vigorous determination. He was, in the words of a German critic, "not satisfied with playing
21 "Amrita Bazar Patrika", November 2, 1969 (Quoted from Netaji Through German Lens by Nanda Mookerji, Jayshree Prakashan, Calcutta, 1970, p. 93).