Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was one of those who sacrificed their lives in the freedom movement of India. He was known for his dynamic personality and courage and was the role model of numerous young people of his time. Hence, on his birthday centenary, and in the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the independence of India, it is appropriate to pay our tribute to this glorious son of India.
Subhas Bose was a born leader. People were always ready to risk their lives on his call. He was brilliant in studies but intolerant of prejudices against India. When his English teacher at Presidency College (Calcutta), Mr. Otton, made negative remarks about Indians in his classroom, he protested. He successfully organized a strike, demanding a public apology from the teacher. Consequently, Subhas was expelled but was happy that he stood up for a right cause.
After leaving the college, Subhas devoted time in social work. People advised him to go back to the college and complete his studies. With considerable effort he gained admission into the Scottish Church College of Calcutta. Here he joined the National Cadet Corps of the University in order to prepare himself for the battle against the British. Upon the completion of his college education, Subhas went to England and passed the civil service examination with merit. He then decided to dedicate his life for the fight of India’s freedom.
Subhas was in favor of armed revolution in order to drive out the British. Mahatma Gandhi was then the leader of Indian Politics, and a supporter of nonviolence. Though Gandhi disagreed with Subhas’ path to freedom, he suggested Subhas to join Chittaranjan Das, who was then the leading politician of Bengal. The British, at that time, extended self rule to the Indians and allowed them to democratically elect their leaders in such civilian administrations as municipality. Chittaranjan Das founded the Swaraj party and Subhas worked hard in its landslide victory for the election of municipal seats of Calcutta Corporation (1924). Subhas became the chief executive and Chittaranjan Das, the mayor of Calcutta.
Soon Subhas introduced khadi, a home-made cloth, as the official dress in place of British mill-made clothes. This was a direct protest of the British policy of making clothes in England for the Indian market. Use of khadi was banned. Subhas protested and sent volunteers to jail. At this time a European was killed and Subhas was blamed for that. He was arrested and sent to Mandalay jail in Burma, notorious for its unhealthy conditions.
Public revolted for keeping Subhas in jail without a trial. Looking into the worsening mood, British government released Subhas unconditionally. Unfortunately, he contracted tuberculosis while in jail. Subhas took some time to recover while planning out his future strategy. Chittaranjan Das had died and Subhas took over the Swaraj party. He began to organize volunteers, making the government uneasy. Finally Subhas was arrested once again. But the people of Calcutta made him the Mayor and the British had to release him.
Soon after, Subhas declared the observance of independence day with a public meeting on January 26, 1931. The government declared it illegal. Subhas defied the orders and was badly beaten by the police. He was then taken to jail, where his health deteriorated. The government got concerned and released him on the condition that he would stay outside India. Subhas traveled to different parts of Europe to promote the cause of India’s freedom through lectures.
Subhas entered India when he was elected the President of All India Congress in 1938. He, however, resigned in 1939, because of his strong differences with Gandhi and Nehru. The British were then deeply involved in war. Subhas suggested an armed revolution which did not receive any political support. He then formed the Forward Bloc party and declared to destroy the Holwell Monument of Calcutta, that stood as a symbol of British rule in India. He was arrested again. In jail, Subhas started to fast until death. He was finally released from the jail but he was restricted to his residence in Calcutta.
Subhas made a daring escape from his residence and went first to Germany by road, and then to Japan in a submarine. He was trying to negotiate an armed attack on the British-owned India. Keeping this in view, Subhas organized the Indian National Army with the soldiers of the prisoners of war (POW) and declared the formation of Azad Hind Government on October 21, 1943. Subhas’ army hoisted the national flag of India in Kohima, Assam, which was in the British territory, on March 18, 1944. When Japan surrendered on August 16, 1945, Subhas could not continue his struggle. He decided to go underground and left in a war plane for an undisclosed destination on August 17, 1945. It is now speculated that the plane crashed on the sea due to lack of fuel.
Let us pay our homage to those patriots like Subhas Chandra Bose whose sacrifice made India a free nation fifty years ago.