5 Things About the Life and Times of Subhas Chandra Bose


A 28ft black granite statue of Subhas Chandra Bose was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at India Gate on Thursday September 8. The statue is placed under the large canopy of the monument and was inaugurated along with Kartavya path, formerly known as Rajpath.

The beginnings of Subhas Chandra Bose

Born into an upper-class Bengali family in 1897 in Cuttack, Subhas Chandra Bose was the ninth child of Janakinath and Prabhavati Bose. A well-known lawyer, Janakinath sent his sons to an English-speaking school where Bengali was not taught, so that they could learn perfect English which he considered essential for assimilating into English society. Prabhavati, on the other hand, was a devout Hindu and observed Bengali Hindu customs and pujas which all her children had to attend.

In 1909, Subhas Chandra Bose moved to Ravenshaw Collegiate School, where he completed his secondary education. Here he learned Bengali and Sanskrit, as well as the Vedas and Upanishads. While pursuing his European education throughout his life, he became less attracted to Anglicized ways than his family members during his schooling and, according to historian Leonard Gordon, “began to make his own synthesis Western and Indian cultures”.

Influenced by the teachings of Ramakrishna and his disciple Swami Vivekananda, as well as the themes of Bengali novelist Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in his novel Ananda Math, Gordon notes that Subhas found what he was looking for: “freedom and renewal of his fatherland” (in Brothers Against the Raj: A Biography of Indian Nationalist Leaders Sarat and Subhas Chandra Bose).

After school, he entered the Presidential College in Calcutta in 1913, where he studied philosophy. His first battle with British authority came when he was a student, against history teacher EF Oaten, who had once spoken in class about England’s civilizing mission in India.

The students felt insulted by his remarks and their anger then boiled over after an altercation with the teacher resulted in him being beaten with sandals by Bose and his friends. Expelled for his actions, he resumed his studies at the Scottish Church College in Calcutta.

Bose’s disagreements with Gandhi

Subsequently, Bose went to Cambridge University to prepare for the Indian Civil Service Examination (ICS) in 1920. But later, determined to join India’s freedom struggle, he abandoned the project and resigned from the ICS to join the national organization led by Mahatma Gandhi. movement.

Arriving in Bombay, now Mumbai, in 1921, he obtained an audience with Gandhi to better understand his plan of action. While he had great respect for the Mahatma, Bose left the meeting unsatisfied with the responses he received.

Of the ideological divide between the two leaders, historian Satadru Sen notes that while “Gandhi was willing to wait a long time for Independence, Bose wanted immediate action, if not immediate results. Gandhi was anti-materialist and hostile to modern technology, Bose saw technology and mass production as essential to survival and dignity. Gandhi wanted a decentralized society and disliked the modern state; Bose wanted a strong central government and saw the modern state as the only solution to India’s problems. And finally, Bose did not share Gandhi’s dedication to nonviolence.

Despite the tensions between the two, Bose was well aware of the importance of a leader like Gandhi. Bose was the first to call him the “father of the nation” during a speech by Singapore’s Azad Hind radio in July 1944.

The split in Congress

Over the next two decades, Bose devoted his life to the nationalist movement, gaining considerable political influence and becoming one of the Congress party’s most powerful leaders.

In 1938 he was elected President of Congress at the Haripura session, where he attempted to push swaraj as a “national claim” and opposed the idea of ​​an Indian federation under British rule. He ran for re-election in 1939 and defeated Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, the candidate supported by Gandhi. Sekhar Bandhopadhyay notes that Gandhi took this as a “personal defeat” and 12 of the 15 members of the Working Committee resigned from their posts (in From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India). These included Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Rajendra Prasad.

Bose tried to set up another working committee, but after being unable to do so, was forced to resign and was replaced by Prasad. Within a week, he proposed the creation of the “Forward Bloc” within the Congress Party, in order to bring together the radical left elements of the party. According to historian Sugata Bose, his political goal was to convert the majority of members of Congress to his radical views and provide the people of India with an alternative leadership based on “uncompromising anti-imperialism in the current phase of politics. Indian”. and undiluted socialism once freedom is gained” (Her Majesty’s Adversary: ​​Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle Against Empire).

A dramatic escape

Bose was arrested in 1940 before he could launch a campaign to remove the monument to the victims of the Calcutta Black Hole, an incident in which a number of European soldiers died while imprisoned in 1756.

After going on a hunger strike, he was released from prison in December. Historian Ishita Banerjee-Dube writes that he soon began his escape from India, traveling by road, rail, air, and on foot in various disguises to avoid British surveillance. He entered Soviet-held Kabul via northwest India and eventually reached Nazi Germany, where he remained for two years. He received assistance in defeating the British, and Bose was allowed to start Azad Hind radio and received a few thousand Indian prisoners of war captured by Germany (from A history of modern India).

Bose quickly focused on Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore, a British stronghold that had been taken over by Japan, which Ishita Banerjee-Dube said had shown increased interest in independence from the nation. India vis-à-vis the British. However, leaving Europe at the height of World War II was no easy task. In February 1943 he left Germany with his assistant Abid Hasan in a submarine and sailed down the Atlantic Ocean, crossing the Cape of Good Hope in Africa before entering the Indian Ocean past Madagascar. Here, Bose and Hasan were taken on a small rubber dinghy provided by the Japanese, before taking them to Sumatra and finally arriving in Tokyo by plane, marking the end of a grueling and dangerous 90-day journey.

The INA and the Second World War

The Indian National Army was formed in 1942, consisting of thousands of Indian POWs captured by the Japanese and supported by Japanese troops.

After arriving in Singapore, Bose announced the formation of the Azad Hind Provisional Government in October 1943. Sugata Bose notes that the seat of the Provisional Government was moved to Rangoon in January 1944, and after fighting at the Arakan Front , the INA crossed the Indo-Burma border and marched to Imphal and Kohima in March.

The Chalo Delhi campaign ended at Imphal, however, as the British and British Indian armies, along with American air support, were able to defeat the Japanese and INA forces and drive them out of Kohima as well.

In April–May 1945, Bose, along with the INA soldiers as well as the women he had recruited for the Rani regiment of Jhansi, was forced to retreat on foot to Thailand, while facing incessant enemy fire. . After the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the war ended.

After the Japanese surrender on August 16, Bose left Southeast Asia in a Japanese plane and headed for China. The plane, however, crashed, leaving Bose badly burned, but still alive, according to historian Satadru Sen.


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