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This and That - LBC Blog Post

My daughter, whom I personally call 'the princess', is studying history and political science nowadays.  Sometimes, when I get a spare minute, which admittedly isn't often, I look over her shoulder and have a look at her course material.

I got to proof-read one of her essays recently on an Indian patriot named Subhas Chandra Bose.  Now as someone who has been involved with or lived in India for the last thirty-odd years, I have read my share of official Indian history and could be forgiven for thinking that the Indian freedom struggle was all about Pandit Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi and very few others.  

But that's wrong.  Very wrong.

Yes, I'd heard about Subhas Chandra Bose here and there, but I'd never really taken much notice of his story.  However, I looked it up yesterday and I was literally stunned.

The man was phenomenal. He dared to do what very few would ever think of doing. If he had been successful in his mission, the story of modern India would have read quite differently. The man literally sacrificed everything for his country.

I just want to say that I am an apolitical person.  I can't vote because I'm not an Indian citizen and I don't live in my own country.  Also, I don't believe in violence and I would have probably preferred Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent approach had I been an Indian living through the freedom struggle. But having said that....

Just like Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, Subhas Chandra Bose was born in a wealthy lawyer's family. He excelled in studies and passed the examinations to join the Indian Civil Service in 1920.  However, it seemed wrong to him to serve an administration to which he could not be loyal, as he felt that India should try to become independent of foreign rule. So he left and edited a newspaper which promoted the independence ideology.  He joined the Indian National Congress and worked to raise the people's awareness of the need to break free of colonial domination. He was quite the intellectual and from the little I've read, was a very lucid writer. However, first and foremost, he was a man of action. 

From the time he left the government service in 1921 until the late 1930s, he worked very hard to promote the idea of independence for India.  He also travelled to Europe and wrote some books about the Indian freedom struggle. He appears to have visited Ireland too and met Eamon De Valera, Ireland's first Taoiseach (Prime Minister).

The Second World War sees him coming into his own.  He decided that India should not support Britain during the war.  There were many who disagreed, so he walked alone in this respect, although, of course, he had his followers. It was suggested to him that he should try to go to Germany and meet the German Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, so they could co-operate with each other because of their 
common anti-British stance.

At this time, he was being watched by the administration.  He confined himself to his room, pleading illness and grew a beard. Then one night, dressed as a Pathan tribesman, he fled from Calcutta to Afghanistan. It must have taken a long time to reach Afghanistan because there's a huge amount of land to cover to get from one to the other.  From Kabul he went to Moscow, another huge journey and from Moscow to Germany where he was able to meet Adolf Hitler, who apparently received him warmly.  Bose stayed in Germany for several years and he lived with Emilie Schenkl, an Austrian woman he'd met and secretly married several years earlier, when they worked on a book together. During this time their daughter Anita was born.  Bose was well into his forties by this time.

Meanwhile, the Indians living in Asian countries had begun to get together and try to do their bit for Indian independence. Some meetings took place and it was decided to call Bose to Japan and get him to head a provisional government of free India and lead a free Indian army. How did they know where to send him the message?  It might have been known in Japan, Germany's ally, that Bose was a guest of the German government.

Bose seems to have been disillusioned with Germany.  He was a man who believed in equality regardless of caste and creed. He may have noticed the racism in the German regime. He was also horrified when Germany invaded Russia, a country he admired. Somehow, he realised that his purpose would be better achieved going to Japan.  So, he slipped away quietly in a German submarine and travelled halfway around the world, transferring to a Japanese submarine on the way and eventually ending up in Japan. He was made the leader of the Provisional Free Indian Government and he took the headship of the Indian National Army. On the north-east side of the country, Bose's INA bravely fought the British and the women soldiers drew great admiration from many for their bravery and endurance.  However, when the USA dropped the atom bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan surrendered, Bose knew that it was time to give up. He boarded a plane in Saigon and it was reported to have crashed on the island of Formosa, now Taiwan.  Bose reportedly died in the plane crash.

The end of the man's life was tragic, but what a life he lead! His story reads like a thriller in parts I mean, not every person can just get around the world, from Germany to Japan on a freaking submarine!  Sorry, two submarines! A Bengali speaking man, communicating in Germans and Japanese people - it's an awesome story by anyone's standards.

We don't hear quite as much about Subhas Chandra Bose as we do about other heroes of the Indian freedom struggle, but this man deserves to be remembered for his innovative efforts to serve his country and for his remarkable tenacity.

He hasn't been forgotten in India. His legend lives on, including an interesting story that he didn't actually die in the plane crash in Formosa, but I'm not even going to go there. That's another story entirely.

In my apolitical way, I just think the man was amazing.  That's about it! 

What does Subhas Chandra Bose have to do with this and that, the blog post topic for the LBC this week?  Nothing really. That topic was proposed by me and nothing has anything to do with it. If I'd written this post two hours before, it probably would have been about stray dogs, a favourite topic of mine.

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserPravin,  ShackmanMaxi,  The Old Fossil Lin and Ashok, and  Padmum have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I wouldn't have otherwise done so. 

Thanks to freedigitalphotos for the image, 'Parachutist' by Watiporn


  1. Wonderful post, Maria. I'm with you about non-violence.

    There are two types of people: those who watch things happen and those who make things happen.

    It seems that Subhas Chandra Bose was on a mission.
    blessings ~ maxi

  2. Thank you, Maxi. It's great to see you over here.

  3. I am a very political person and I agree that Bose has not received the attention and adulation that he so richly deserves. Had he been allowed to become the leader of the INC instead of JN as MG wanted, our entire history would have been different. Just imagine he and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as PM and Home Ministers after independence!

  4. I spent half of yesterday proof-reading the princess's essay and I double-checked the facts online and I was in awe. I mean, it's a remarkable story by any standards, Ramana. BTW your blog just ticked me off for posting comments too fast. Was that you or does your blog have a life of its own?

  5. WP has a life of its own! When I want ot tick you off I speculate about your romantic life in my blog posts.

  6. Netaji as we called him is a true Indian hero. You put the right phrase.. he was a man of action and would probably be a more visionary first PM of India. People of Bengal in particular feel let down by the action of the then leadership of India.
    Thanks for blogging about our hero.

  7. Rummuser, was that your blog or you talking through your blog?

    Sumandebray, it was my pleasure. I would love to write more, in fact.

  8. Thanks for writing such a good article, I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing...
    Tobacco Machinery


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