Subhas Bose: The Obverse View of a History Professor: Was He a Stooge of the Fascists?
Bose in Indian Psyche
Indians respect Bose a lot, but then let us also accept the fact that we are hero worshipers and look for heroes everywhere. One reason is that we have had very few victors who could be role models for Indians down the last 900 years. What I am going to write emerged after a discussion with a well known History professor of a leading University, who incidentally is a school mate of mine. He has written books, but its not appropriate to take his name here. I will however give his view which is also incidentally mine own.
Bose and Hitler
Bose first went to Germany to seek the help of Hitler in the liberation of India. Germany was a Fascist state which believed in racial theory of superiority of the German race. Hitler in his " Mien Kampf" ( My Struggle) has opined that British rule was good for India as Indians were not capable of self government. He had nothing but contempt for Indians. Just see that Bose landed in Germany in April 1941 and repeatedly requested for a audience with Hitler, but Hitler had no time for him and kept him waiting for over a year, before he met him in 1942. This was the importance that Hitler attached to Bose.
Another fact worth pondering is that any country like France, Russia or Greece conquered by Hitler's army were not given any freedom of any type. They were made colonies and repression was let loose as the Nazi looted these nations. For arguments sake if Hitler had invaded India, would he have given any freedom to the people who he held in contempt? It's naive to think that Hitler would have brought freedom to India.
Bose and Japan
Coming to Japan. It was also a imperialist state with Fascist leanings and believing that the Japanese race was superior to all others. They behaved in a similar manner as the Germans and when they occupied China, they let loose a terrible oppression. They set up an independent republic of Munchkow under the last emperor of China Pu Yi, but he was just a puppet. The Japanese controlled China and inflicted terrible atrocities. One has read about the rape of Nanking when the Imperial army raped and killed over a million Chinese. This is a fact of history. Incidentally they had promised freedom to the Chinese and talked of a co -prosperity sphere. Where did it go?
In other countries of SE Asia which they occupied their conduct was terrible. They carried out mass scale massacres in the Philippines and Malaya. In Burma they turned on the Burmese national Army led by Ne Win and despite occupying Burma, gave no freedom to the Burmese people.
Japanese and Andaman islands
The Japanese occupied and were supposed to have given " freedom" to the Andaman Islands in 1942. But there was only a nominal head from the Indian National army and power was in the hands of the Japanese army. The massacres of Indians in the Andaman islands are well known. Worse when Bose visited Port Blair in 1944, Indian wanted to apprise Bose of the atrocities of the Japanese army, but he turned a blind eye so intent he was in capturing Delhi.
Let us also understand that Bose could not cause any defection of any great magnitude in the Indian army. If figures have a meaning 2.5 million Indians fought for the English, but the INA had only 40,000 soldiers at the maximum.( Just 2 divisions). These divisions were also not properly equipped by the Japanese with tanks and guns as they never trusted the INA. One cannot forget that the INA commander General Mohan Singh was imprisoned by the Japanese in an island off Rangoon, when he differed with them.
Keeping their occupation of China in mind and the treatment of Pu Yi and other places in SE Asia, where is the chance that if they had conquered India, they would have given freedom to Indians and Bose? More likely Bose would have been "bumped" off as they did to so many other leaders, Bose was thus naive, that he would be leading India to freedom on the backs of the Japanese and the Germans. Both nations were worse imperialists and the English and Gandhi realised this. That is the reason he declared that he would never support Fascism. It is on record, that Gandhi was aware that the fascists would never give India freedom.
The end of Bose
So what about Subhash Bose? We have romantic notions about him, but the great historian William Duff dismisses him as a man of no consequence in world history. There is no doubt that Bose seriously miscalculated by joining the Fascist powers. That was his undoing and for that reason Stalin did not forgive him. There is ample evidence that he escaped to Russia and was imprisoned there and finally died a POW. This is a sad tale, but History means learning from the past and Bose did a blunder by joining the Fascists. In that respect Gandhi realised the danger better and went against them. In a way he supported the British war effort. All said and done, I also admire the courage of Bose, but its a good thing the Japanese did not win, otherwise a worse tyranny would have been imposed on India. Was Bose a Japanese stooge ? Justice Katju former Judge of the Supreme court thinks so, one may or may not agree with him..
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