Relevance Of Netaji
“Give me blood, I will give you freedom”, Subhash Chandra Bose not only gave this slogan, but lived his words too. During the freedom movement, with the clarion call to fight British rule, Netaji, as he was fondly called, has inspired people from all walks of life. Youths and women-all were part of his Indian National Army.
He single-handedly took initiative of meeting the leaders of powerful countries to garner their support in a bid to throw British rule from India. His efforts bore fruit when he successfully laid the foundation of country’s first armed force, which later challenged the British forces.
The country lacks leaders in true sense to whom one can look upon for guidance. We have no leaders who can shoulder responsibility and care for the well being of society.
Each one of us has a hero whom we cherish in our heart of hearts, whom we seek to emulate and look upon as our ideal guide. Netaji has inspired and continues to inspire many. Mr Sailen Sen, a lawyer by profession, was one among them. It was in 1940, when 12-year-old Sen was stunned by the speech of the great leader. He recounts the day, saying “I have seen Subhash Chandra Bose for the first time when he was delivering a speech in 1940 at Chandpur in East Bengal. It was around 2 am, and the whole town was eagerly waiting for his speech. Even in that adolescent stage, I was quite inspired”.
This was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s last visit to East Bengal, after which he fled the country to garner international support in spite of many national leaders ticking off his approach, including Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.
Mr Sen says, “My hero is the great Indian, the patriot of patriots—Subhas Chandra Bose. For me, he embodies the highest qualities a man might possess. He effectively combined in him the noblest ideals with vigorous zeal for planned action and reconstruction. It seems unbelievable that a man so adventurous, so regardless of consequences, so much dedicated and yet so intensely practical, should have risen in this beloved land of ours.”
It is the inspiration which made young man like Sen to work for the country, who was later involved in freedom movement. Sen himself puts, “So far I could recollect, during a protest procession I was hit on my arm, when British forces lathicharged us. Thereafter, in 1942 Quit India Movement, I got involved in writing posters containing slogans such as- British Quit India, Do or Die, Karange Ya Marange, Angrezo Bharat Choro and in putting the posters after 2 am in night all over the town, particularly on government buildings, courts, offices and official quarters”.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was not only a great national leader, but was a great reformer also. His biggest achievement in public life was to bring about the unity of all religious communities of India-Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. Mahatma Gandhi also brought about unity among Hindus and Muslims, but Netaji believed in possibility of what he described as cultural intimacy among different religious communities.
That is why he was very keen that the members of different communities should learn more about the religious faiths and practices of other communities. He felt that on Muslim festivals, Muslims may actually invite Hindus and vice versa.
Even the motto of Indian National Army- itmad (faith), ittefaq (unity) and qurbani (sacrifice) may be the best example of his broad ideas. The INA is the only army which was beyond religion and religious practices, which are still found in our armed forces.
When he was on his submarine voyage, the one companion he chose was a Muslim. When the INA Memorial had to be built, it was a Christian officer who was given the task. These incidents establish Netaji as true leader of the masses.
Bose was deeply influenced by Swami Vivekananda, who is known as a reformist sanyasi, who put forth India’s spirituality on the international stage.
Netaji’s view of future India after independence as emphasized in late 1930s, when he was Congress President for two consecutive terms, is still relevant. India could have avoided the crucial political and socio-economic problems had his vision of socio-economic and political structure was implemented with marginal modification in today’s context. If Netaji had come to India after the war was over, the country would not have been partitioned in the name of independence.
It is also accepted by Netaji’s daughter- Anita Pfaff, who is now in India to celebrate 116th birth anniversary. She termed the partition of country and the subsequent wars and arms race between India and Pakistan as a major disappointment, militating against her father’s vision of post-independence nation.
Describing Netaji as a “far-sighted and visionary leader”, she said that Bose not only loved his country “fiercely”, but was also pragmatic. “He had envisioned many far-sighted measures for the post-independent period. Some came through even after his demise, even without his active role in planning of these ideas”.
“Again, there were other developments which deviated from what he had envisioned. I will name only three—the partition of the country, and the slow progress in eradicating illiteracy and poverty,” she said, while addressing the inaugural session of Netaji’s 116th birth anniversary at Netaji Bhavan in Kolkata January 20, 2013.
It was in fact his movement and activities from the South East Asia through Provisional Azad Hind Govt and Indian National Army which went a long way in weakening the colonialism. Immediately after India’s Independence, the British empire was on the wane.
Today people like Sailen Sen, who were inspired by leaders like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose found it difficult when they see our leaders. Mr Sen says, “To my understanding, in those days, leaders were quite learned and respected, who had dedicated themselves for the attainment of freedom without any ambition. None of them had any kind of blot on his political career. Amongst them, many assumed power after 1947 once India got independence. Present day politicians are of different hues. The present generation should read the unbiased narratives of pre-independence political history and biography of those leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi.”
Even after 68 years of his mysterious disappearance, there is no unanimity about his date of his death. Several commissions have been set up in this regard, but they have failed in their purpose. Even the RTIs filed by activists remain unanswered or not sufficiently answered in this regard.
Has Netaji really been a forgotten hero? Do our leaders want to mould their character according to his ideals. Questions are many, but we cannot deny that our nation needs a leader like Bose today.
By Joydeep Dasgupta From Kolkata