Subhash Chandra Bose is one of the few heroes in the history of India who have left the deepest impression on the minds of the people of India within a short span of his charismatic life. He was born on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack, Orissa. His father Janaki Nath Bose was a famous lawyer and his mother Prabhavati Devi was a pious and religious lady. Subhash Chandra Bose was the ninth child among fourteen siblings. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose occupies a unique position in the history of India’s struggle for independence. Although he was a member of the Congress, Bose took a different path in his struggle for Indian independence. Today is his 111th birth anniversary. But he remains largely unforgotten today. Subhash was an indefatigable fighter for democracy within Congress. Mahatma Gandhi loved Subhash and Subhash had the highest respect for him. Gandhi called him “dare all leader”. It is said that the sobriquet, Netaji, was given by Gandhi.
Though Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru have garnered much of the credit for successful culmination of Indian freedom struggle, the contribution of Subhash Chandra Bose is no less. He has been denied his rightful place in the annals of Indian history. He began his political career in Calcutta and soon became the leader of the left wing of the Indian National Congress. Bose was elected President of the Indian National Congress in 1938–39 but resigned from the post following ideological conflicts with Mahatma Gandhi.
Bose believed that Mahatma Gandhi’s tactics of non-violence would never be sufficient to secure India’s independence, and advocated violent resistance. Over a span of 20 years, Bose was incarcerated eleven times by the British, either in India or in Rangoon. During the mid 1930s, the British exiled him from India to Europe, where he championed India’s cause and aspiration for self-rule before gatherings and conferences. In 1941, He escaped and fled to Germany. In 1943, he headed in Singapore a Japanese-sponsored ‘provisional government of India’ and organized an ‘Indian National Army’ (INA). Bose revived the INA, which had initially been formed under Capt Mohan Singh in 1942, immediately after the fall of Singapore in December that year. Subhash Chandra Bose raised the flag of Indian independence and established his headquarters on December 30, 1943 at Port Blair. However, defeat of Japan and Germany in World War II forced INA to retreat and it could not achieve its objective.
Today we must remember the following tribute of Gandhi to Bose: “The greatest and the most impacting act of Netaji was that he abolished all distinctions of caste and class. He was a true Indian who lived and sacrificed his life for his country. What is more, he inspired all under him with the same zeal so that they forgot all distinctions in his presence and acted as a united team.”
As the circumstances surrounding the death of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose remain shrouded in mystery, official documents declassified by the government say the revolutionary leader was a victim of an air crash on August 18, 1945 over Taiwan (Formosa). He was then only forty-eight years old. No Indian could believe the shocking news. The nation still refuses to believe that their true idol of patriotism, Subhash Chandra Bose, is dead.
Did Netaji really die at Formosa? This is a question, which has been asked umpteen times with no satisfactory answer available. This has also been debated time and again by Netaji loyalists as well as the media and the people of India at large. Government, over a period of time has appointed many commissions but nothing concrete has come out of that. It’s amazing how Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose continues to be in news, 63 years after his disputed death. A BBC online poll few years back named Bose the third greatest-ever leader in South Asia after Jinnah and Gandhi.
He may be no more, but he still lives in our hearts forever.