Respected Leader - Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, was one of the most important leaders for Indian Independence against the British colonial rule. He was born Subhas Chandra Bose but he is known to people as "Netaji" which means 'respected leader'.

Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23rd, 1897. His Bengali family was affluent and lived in Cuttack, Orissa. His father, Janakinath Bose, was a member of Bengal Legislative Council. He was a public prosecutor. Subhas went to Raven Shaw Collegiate School in Cuttack. Then he entered Scottish Church College in Calcutta and also went to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University. When Subhas took the Indian Civil Services entrance exam in 1920, he came in fourth with the highest marks in English. But his career in the Indian Civil Service was short lived as he resigned in April 1921 to become one of the driving forces of the Indian Independence Movement. He joined the Indian National Congress and was very active in its youth wing.

Immediately after his resignation from the Indian Civil Service, Bose organized a boycott of the celebrations that were to mark the Prince of Wales' visit to India. He was arrested and imprisoned by the British. In April 24th, 1924, he was elected as the CEO of the newly formed Calcutta Municipal Corporation. In October of the same year, he was again imprisoned on the suspicion of terrorism. He was jailed at the Alipore Jail but later exiled to Mandalay, Burma. He led a procession to protest against the British rule in India and was arrested on January 23rd, 1930. He was released on September 25th, he was immediately elected as the Mayor of the City of Calcutta thereafter.

During the 20 year period, Netaji was imprisoned by the British eleven times. He was sent to jails in either India or Rangoon, Burma. He was exiled by the British in the mid 1930s. He left for Europe, where he campaigned with world leaders for the aspirations of Indian people for independence and self-governance. He met leaders in gatherings and conferences.

Although Bose had a clear contention to the British rule and colonialism, he was impressed by their systematic and methodical approach. He often wrote in his letters about the British system. While in England, Bose exchanged his ideas on the future on India with British Labour Party leaders and political movers and shakers alike.

Bose believed that independent India needed a Socialist authoritarianism like the Turkish leader, Kemal Ataturk for at least two decades. However, Bose was never granted the permission to meet him for political reasons. During his travels in England, only the Labour Party and Liberal politicians agreed to meet Bose. The Conservative Party leaders and officials refused to meet him, as a sign of their disapproval of a politician from a 'colony'.

Among the leaders that he met were Arthur Greenwood, Harold Laski, J.B.S. Haldane, Ivor Jennings, G.D.H. Cole, Gilbert Murray and Sir Stafford Cripps, Lord Halifax, George Lansbury, and Clement Attlee. It was during the Labour Party's control of 1945-1951, under then Prime Minister Attlee that India gained her independence.

By 1938, Subhas Chandra Bose became the president of Indian National Congress. He was elected to be president for two consecutive terms. However, there were ideological conflicts with another leader of Indian Independence Movement – Gandhi. Bose was an advocate of violent resistance. Getting total independence or "Swaj" by any means possible. He believed that Mahatma Gandhi's tactics of non-violence would never be sufficient. Gandhi also commented that "Subhas's victory is my defeat." Gandhi's continual opposition to Bose, led to Bose's resignation from the Congress Working Committee, the executive arm of Congress. Bose went on to establishing a separate political party, the All India Forward Bloc, which demanded the full and immediate independence of India from the British.

Subhas Chandra Bose stuck to his beliefs even at the on set of World War II. Bose's ideology was largely influenced by the Italian patriot and statesmen Guiseppes Garibaldi and Mazzini. The Gandhi-Nehru camp, a section of the Indian Congress leadership wanted to wait until the end of WWII. They believed that the British would grant India her independence then.

Bose saw the political instability as a chance to topple the British. When WWII broke out, Bose organized a massive protest against the Viceroy's declaration to enter into war for India without the consent of the leadership from the Congress. Gandhi was not convinced but Bose went ahead and called for civil disobedience and protests in Calcutta.

He was arrested and sent to jail by the British. After a seven day hunger strike, he was released to his home but the authorities kept Bose under a close watch. There were two court cases pending for Bose and it was clear that they would not let him go before WWII ended. So he escaped to Germany via Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. Bose travelled to the Soviet Union, Germany and Japan to seek alliance so the British could be attacked – leaving India.

With the assistance of the Japanese he freed the Indian prisoners of war and plantation workers from Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore. He reorganized the Indian National Army to battle against the allies in Impal and Burma during the Second World War. The Japanese gave Bose military, monetary, political, and diplomatic assistance. Bose formed the Azad Hind Government while in exile.

Bose's connection with the Japanese and the Nazis was controversial. It has been a point of arguments and disagreements among politicians and historians alike. He had been accused of being a Fascist sympathizer. Most people in India however believed that his doctrine of realpolitik as a manifesto had guided his choices in socio-political matters.

On August 18th, 1945 while flying to Tokyo, his plane allegedly crashed over Taihuku ,Taiwan. ( Though Taiwan Government later denied any incidence of plane crash on that day) . Although officially it was declared as an accident, contradictory evidence also exists that suggest otherwise. As a result there were many legends and theories as to Bose's whereabouts. Some stories claim that he died in Siberia while in a Soviet prison. Some claim that he survived the plane crash. Government of India has set up several committees to probe an inquiry into this matter.

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