Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was a great patriot and selfless leader and popularly known as Netaji. His immense contribution to the freedom movement was highlighted in Congress’s marginal way. This year, it’s Netaji’s 125 birth anniversary, and rightly the Government of India has declared that the Day will be celebrated as the Parakram Diwas. Yes, he was Parakram, extraordinarily brave. It is pertinent to mention that this year the Republic Day celebration has also been set to begin from 23 January instead of 24 January, a great gesture to Netaji.
Netaji was born on 23 January 1897 in Cuttack of present Odisha. He is still respected not only in India but also in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Many Pakistani and Bangladeshi academicians told me and praised him when I was in abroad as a faculty member.
Netaji Subhas with heart and soul was Indian and never tolerated any foreigner talking against Indians. In this context, an incident may be cited. He thrashed a British Professor E.F. Otten in the Presidency College of Calcutta in 1916 for Prof Otten’s racist remark against Indians and for this Subhas Chandra had to suffer also, however with the intervention of Indian scholars and other stalwarts the matter was resolved.
We all read about the Indian National Army/Azad Hind Fouz’s contribution under the leadership of Netaji Subhas which consisted of all religious groups and castes. Netaji was the key person to form the Rani of Jhansi regiment (women regiment) of the Indian National Army, under the commander Lakshmi Swaminathan. I believe also many have told me India would not have been divided if Azad Hind Fauz came to power.
The Congress Government after independence always highlighted a few leaders’ contributions towards the freedom movement but not much about Netaji’s contribution. There is a controversy whether a great leader of independent India wrote a letter to Mr. Attlee, describing Subhas Chandra Bose, as a war criminal.
Anyway the British acknowledged Subhas Bose’s contribution. Clement Richard Attlee, who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951 and the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955 agreed Netaji was the toughest challenge the British Empire faced. In 1956, Clement Attlee came to India and stayed in Calcutta (now Kolkata) as a guest of the Governor, P.B. Chakraborty who was at that time Chief Justice of Calcutta High court and acting Governor of West Bengal. He asked Sir Attlee “… since Gandhi’s Quit India movement had tapered off quite some time ago and in 1947 no such new compelling situation had arisen that would necessitate a hasty British departure, why did they have to leave?” As stated by Chakraborty “Mr. Attlee cited several reasons, the main among them being the erosion of loyalty to the British crown among the Indian Army and Navy personnel as a result of the military activities of Subhas Chandra Bose”.
Netaji was a good writer also. His book “The Indian Struggle, 1920–1942” is a two-part book that covers the 1920–1942 history of the Indian independence movement to end British imperial rule over India. The book was banned in India by the British government but in 1948 after independence it was published.
Gandhiji and Netaji’s role in the independence of India was immense but many believe that Gandhiji was later on very much mentally disturbed as his eldest son Harilal was ‘derailed’. It is pertinent to mention that “in June 1935, Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal, accusing him of “alcohol and debauchery”. Mahatma Gandhi stated that Harilal’s problems were more difficult for him to deal with than the struggle for an independent India” (wikipedia.org/wiki/Harilal_Gandhi).
On the auspicious occasion of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birthday, I offer my Pronam to this great soul.