Today, the word “Netaji” is used more as a slag and to denote corrupt, pathetic, selfish and the worst of all humans. Just days from Republic Day, people are talking about not “celebrating” the flag hoisting because we live in a country where women are unsafe. Well, wasn’t that the case since 1950, when India celebrated its first Republic Day and yet women were more suppressed then than they are today. Nationalism seems to have been lost and it’s sad that Netaji was once an attribute for the great Nationalist, Patriotic and most selfless of men, who went to great lengths for the country, it was an attribute for the great Subhash Chandra Bose.
Netaji was born on 23rd of January in 1897, and was a great leader who left the Indian National Congress for he felt the need of a more aggressive movement. His planning, his contacts and his vision are hard to achieve even in today’s technological age. But he envisioned an Independent India and went to lengths to achieve it. He escaped home imprisonment and went off to Karachi, where he met a few comrades who were united with his cause. His provocative anti-British and pro-patriotic speeches and articles had ignited many restless Indians as well as offended the English. Bose fled to Kabul, Afganistan, which was governed by no Empire. The freedom he experienced there made his resolve to free India even stronger.
He travelled to Turkey and tried to establish a contact with the Nazi Dictator Adolf Hitler through India’s long term allies and then neighbours, Russia. Through Russian allies, he contacted Hitler and met him in Berlin, Germany. However, the meeting did not go through as planned. Netaji’s dream of liberating India with the support of the Axis Power had failed. In his great words, “I would join hands with the devil if it brought Independence to my country.” Such conviction never dies and Netaji contacted his comrade Rashbehari Bose in Japan, another Axis Power.
He travelled by submarine, kindly provided by the German dictator and unified Indian War Prisoners in Japan to form an Indian National Army or more lovingly called Azad Hind Fauj. It was then that he gave the most outright of messages, “Give me blood and I will give you Independence”. Through Imphal and Kohima, the INA began its battle against the British. They had a part in liberation of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Japanese handed them over to INA. They renamed the islands Saheed and Swaraj. On the Indian mainland, the Tricolour was hoisted for the first time in Moirang, Manipur but it came under heavy siege when British Forces along with US airplanes attacked the INA, forcing a retreat. The INA held its own until the fall of Rangoon. And even Bose’s stirring war cries of Dilli Chalo and Jai Hind or Inquilab Zindabad wouldn’t help. The soldiers fought bravely but had to give in to the advanced weaponry and tactics of the English and the lack of funds from the Japanese.
Bose’s death remains a mystery, though it is famously told that he died in Taiwan on 18th August 1945 in a helicopter crash. But his mysterious disappearance and untimely death have had many speculations pointing fingers to various sources. Bose was the first to refer to Gandhi as the Father of the Nation and also the first and only one to raise an army for liberating India in the 19th Century (many leaders had raised armies against the British before, most famously The 1857 Revolt)
Today, let’s bring back the glory to the shamed and defamed word NETAJI by remembering our great patriot and leader. India would have been a very very different country had it been liberated under Netaji instead of attaining freedom against the British the way we did.