The very name of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose conjures up the vision of a leader who captured and captivated the minds of millions of Indians during the our Freedom Struggle. What is remarkable he continues to be the most venerable and popular leader among the youth of post Independence years. His extraordinary life which was totally committed to liberate from the yokes of the alien rule, was a saga of a true patriot. His was clear about his goal and would not brook any patience in achieving his goal.

 

Although he was part of the Congress Party but he disapproved its dithering on the main issue of complete freedom. In these days when there are endless divisions on the caste and communal and linguistic lines. It is worth recalling Netaji's teachings and contributions to the unity of India. Even some people wonder whether he could have the successfully negotiated the prickly issue of partition and avoided it. It is just not a remarkable coincidence that his birthday is celebrated in the same month in which India declared herself to be a republic- the people of India whom Netaji loved and who were so dear to him ,were made the masters of their destiny!

 

Born into a distinguished family he was the ninth child of his parents. His father J.N.Bose was a very leading lawyer of his times. It would be surprising to know that young Suhas was more attracted to spirituality at a tender age. He was a voracious reader and a brilliant student and studied the works of Swami Vivekananda whom he regarded as his spiritual guru. In the works of Swamiji he got a first hand account of India's basic problems of acute poverty, casteism and its by-product the heinous practice of untouchability - the ultimate act of indignity committed on a fellow human being. In fact, he was so much overwhelmed by the teachings of Swamiji that he left home to renounce this material world to become a sanyasi!

 

As was the practice in most of the distinguished families to send their wards to England either to become barristers or a cadre of the Indian Civil Service, Netaji's family was also no exception. After competing his studies in India in the course of which he showed the flashes of his patriotic spirit. When he was studying at Presidency College he was involved in a violent protest against the anti-Indian comments of a European professor who made it habit of making such derogatory comments. An act which earned him an expulsion from the college. Later with the intervention of the famous educationist Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee , he could complete his graduation at Scottish Church College in Calcutta.

 

Soon he left India to fulfill the wishes of his father to appear in the Indian Civil Service examination and came off with flying colours by standing fourth in the order of merit. The political scenario of the country at that time was one of turbulence with the entire country seething in anger against barbarism perpetrated on defenceless people who gathered at Jallianwalla Bag. Subhas was aghast at this and left his civil service apprenticeship halfway to return to the country and in consultation with his elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose who too was a great freedom fighter and other members of his family, took a momentous decision not to join the civil service. And the rest was history.

 

He plunged headlong into politics under the able guidance of one the most famous leaders in those days Deshbandhu C.R.Das and joined Indian National Congress Party and became President of the Party twice. His relationship with the Congress Party was mixed. While he accepted Mahatma Gandhi as his leader and remained very deeply reverential till the very last day, he found some of his ideas and policies to attain freedom. Netaji was a pragmatic leader who wanted to fully exploit the political situation prevailing then arising out World War II to achieve independence for his country. Unfortunately there differences came to a head and he was forced to leave the party to form his own. When the Britishers grew extremely suspicious of his motives, he was put under house arrest. But he managed to escape and went out of India to form Azad Hind Fauz. The glorious acts of valour of the members of this army are now parts of folklore. It marched into the soil of India and hoisted the National Flag.

 

Unfortunately the leadership of Independent India was most uncharitable to the memory of this great leader. Despite his differences with Mahatma he had deep regard for him by naming a brigade after him “Gandhi Brigade”. He coined the term “Father of the Nation” for him. He had even named “Nehru Brigade” after Nehru! The communists called him a “Quisling”. There were attempts to erase his name and legacy by manufacturing history in the form of capsule which was buried which had no mention of his name. But Nehru once declared that he would be the first person to behead him if he ever returned- a return millions of his admirers fondly looked to! Mystery and controversy never ceased to be a part of his life, even the controversy surrounding his death remain unresolved.

 

What is Netaji's legacy which we should treasure? He was pragmatic to the core as Congress President he formed first Planning Commission for the country as he knew that once the country attained freedom for the alien rule, the next biggest enemies would mass poverty, illiteracy etc on which the State had to be proactively involved. He was a secularist personified. Under the umbrella of the Indian National Army he successfully brought all sections of people irrespective of their caste, creed and religion and commanded their profound respect to earn the title “Netaji”. Our pseudo secularist should do well to emulate him. He accorded special importance to place of women of India and formed a separate women brigade in Azad Hind Faus just goes to demonstrate that even in hazardous war operation he underlined their leading roles. Let us bow our heads to the sacred memory of this great son of India!


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