Subhas Chandra Bose is one of the most charismatic figures in the list of revolutionaries who worked tirelessly to achieve India’s Independence.
The man who gave the slogan that caught the people’s imagination, “Give me Blood and I will give you Freedom”, Subhas Chandra Bose is known for his political knowledge and military skills.
On his 122nd birth anniversary, here are some interesting facts about his extraordinary life and fight for freedom.
Born on 23 January, 1897 in Cuttack, Odisha (under the then Bengal Presidency), Subhas was the ninth child of the 14 children of Janakinath Bose and Prabhavati Devi.
He excelled at his studies as a child and later enrolled at the Presidency College, Calcutta, in 1911. He was, however, removed from the college on the charge of taking on a Professor for his anti-India comments.
He went on to get a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Scottish Church College at the University of Calcutta in 1918.
Later, he went to the Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge to prepare for the Indian Civil Services Examination (ICS).
Bose cleared the examination with a fourth rank and secured a job with the civil services but he left it and returned to India.
Subhas fell in love with Emily Schenkl in Berlin and married her in 1937 in a secret Hindu ceremony.
Joining The Freedom Struggle
After returning to India, Subhas joined the Indian National Congress and started the newspaper, ‘Swaraj’. He took charge of publicity for the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee.
Later, he was appointed the President for the All India Youth Congress and served as the Secretary for the Bengal State Congress in 1923.
He became the editor for the newspaper, ‘Forward’, founded by Chittaranjan Das and also served as the CEO of Calcutta Municipal Corporation.
In 1925, he was sent to prison for two years in Mandalay.
A Leader Of National Stature
After coming out of prison, Bose got the position of the general secretary of the Congress party and started working alongside Jawaharlal Nehru.
Bose became the Mayor of Calcutta in 1930.
During this period, he travelled extensively in Europe, visiting Indian students and European politicians, including Benito Mussolini.
With his popularity growing, Subhas rose to become a leader of national stature and was nominated for the post of Congress President.
The Falling-Out With Mahatma Gandhi
Subhas Chandra Bose’s ideology did not match with Mahatma Gandhi and other Indian National Congress leaders as he envisioned a complete Swaraj from British Raj, even if it meant using force against the British.
This resulted in a split in the Indian National Congress, with Bose forming his own group.
Bose defeated Pattabhi Sitaramayya (Gandhiji’s chosen candidate) in the 1939 Congress President elections. He could not serve the post for long owing to a clash in his belief system and those in the Congress Working Committee.
He resigned from the post to organise the Forward Bloc on 22 June 1939.
World War II
During the World War II, Viceroy Lord Linlithgow declared war on India’s behalf without consulting the leaders of the Congress. Subhas Chandra Bose supported the mass civil disobedience to protest against the decision.
Consequently, he was jailed for seven days and placed under house arrest for 40 days.
On the 41st day of house arrest, Bose escaped, dressed as a Maulavi and reached Germany under the fake Italian passport with the name Orlando Mazzota.
With the help of Adam von Trott zu Solz, Bose founded the Special Bureau for India, which broadcast on the German-sponsored Azad Hind Radio.
Subhas sought the cooperation of Germany and Japan to fight against the British Empire.
Later, he organized the Free India Center in Berlin. Around 3,000 Indian prisoners had signed up for the Free India Legion who had previously fought for the British in North Africa.
Bose left Germany to reach Japan in 1943 after Germany’s fall in the war.
The Transition To ‘Netaji’
With Bose’s arrival at Singapore, the hopes of the Indian National Army (INA) were revived.
INA was originally founded by Captain General Mohan Singh in 1942 and then headed by nationalist leader Rash Behari Bose.
The complete control of the organisation was given to Subhas by Rash Behari Bose.
Later, INA came to be known as the Azad Hind Fauj and Subhas Chandra Bose as ‘Netaji’.
He not only re-organized the army troops but gathered support and financial assistance from people.
The Azad Hind Fauj expanded and started functioning under a provisional government, the Azad Hind Government, with its own postage stamps, currency, courts, and civil codes, and was recognised by nine Axis states.
Interestingly, the Azad Hind Fauj was the first unit to come up with a separate women’s unit.
Working For Freedom
The army with Netaji as the Chief Commander started their journey to free India from British Raj.
On its way, it freed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, naming the two islands as Swaraj and Shaheed.
The new base camp for the army was Rangoon.
On the Burma front, the army fought against the British and hoisted the Indian national flag on the grounds of Imphal, Manipur.
However, the counter-attack by the Commonwealth forces on the Japanese and the German armies which resulted in the fall of the Rangoon base camp.
Undeterred by the defeat, Subhas decided to travel to Russia.
To reach Russia, Subhas boarded a Mitsubishi Ki-21 heavy bomber from Saigon Airport on 17 August, 1945
The bomber reportedly crashed the following day shortly after take-off after a night halt in Taiwan.
Subhas Chandra Bose is said to have died on 18 August, 1945 and was cremated two days later in the Taihoku Crematorium. His ashes were laid to rest at the Renkoji Temple of Nichiren Buddhism in Tokyo, Japan.
A large number of his followers have, however, questioned whether he actually died in this crash.
Due to the mystery surrounding the circumstances of his death, the Government of India has since set up a number of committees to investigate the case.
Remembering Subhas Chandra Bose
PM Narendra Modi paid tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose by inaugurating museums at the Red Fort on Wednesday.
These include the Yaad-e-Jallian Museum (on Jallianwala Bagh and World War 1), Museum on 1857- India’s First War of Independence and Drishyakala- Museum.
These museums being inaugurated today will deepen the connect between our glorious history and our youth as well as add to the patriotic fervour among citizens.
– PM Modi
Subhas Chandra Bose was posthumously honoured with a Bharat Ratna award.
Netaji’s statue has been installed in front of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.
One of the walls of the Indian Parliament has his photo.
In 2004, director Shyam Benegal made his biopic ‘Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero’.
(Note- All the photos have been taken from the Wikimedia Commons.)