Bose – An Epitome of Parakram

On January 23, India celebrated ‘Parakram Diwas’ to celebrate the values, the courage, and the life of great Indian nationalist and freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose. Fondly called Netaji, Bose was born on January 23, 1897, in Cuttack, Bengal Presidency. He belonged to a wealthy and aristocratic family and was the 9th child of eminent lawyer Jankinath Bose and Prabhavati nicknamed Ranga. Bose studied in Ravenshaw Collegiate School, Cuttack, and was a brilliant kid. In his growing years, headmaster Benimadhav Das saw his inclination towards spirituality. Thus, he instilled a love for nature and moral values in the mind of young Bose.

His penchant for books brought him in touch with the philosophy of Swami Vivekananda. The teachings of Vivekananda so much influenced him that he left his home in Calcutta at the age of 17 years in search of a spiritual Guru. Wandering through Hrishikesh, Haridwar, Mathura, Vrindavan, Varanasi, Gaya, etc., he returned to Calcutta barehand. Studying Vedanta Philosophy, the idea of self-rule got clearer in his mind, and he began hating foreign rule over the motherland. He got suspended from Presidency College of Calcutta for misbehaving with a British Professor. While studying in Scottish Church College, he cleared his B.A. Hons with excellent grades in philosophy. In his college years, the spirit of nationalism got ignited in Bose’s mind. His political ambitions were becoming stark with participation in various political activities. He believed; Political division could not divide the hearts of Indian people.

In 1919, Bose’s father sent him to England to prepare for the ICS exam. Bose got admitted to Cambridge University, and within eight months of preparation, he cleared the prestigious and toughest exams of those times, ICS, and bagged 4th rank. However, he didn’t budge from his aim of liberating India from the socio-economic, political, and spiritual bondage of British rule. Bose was on probation when the Jallianwala Baug massacre took place. He resigned from ICS and, in 1921, came back to India. Here he got in touch with Mahatma Gandhi and joined Indian National Congress.

These were formative years of Bose’s political career, and Gandhiji advised him to work under Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das. During a protest against Prince of Wales, Bose and Das were arrested and sent to jail for six months. After his release, Bose got engaged in flood relief work, the edition of Forward Magazine, and campaigning for Swaraj Party. In 1923, he became the Indian National Youth Congress President and General Secretary of Bengal Congress. His speeches moved common youth and brought them into the mainstream of the Indian Freedom Struggle. Tarkeshwar Satyagraha was a milestone in Bose’s life. In 1924, he became CEO of Calcutta Municipality with Das as Mayor. He became President of the Bengal Congress in 1927.

Along with Nehru, he became General Secretary of the Indian National Congress. They represented a militant, left-wing faction of the party. During Civil disobedience Movement, Bose was in detention for his association with underground activities of Bengal volunteers. Released and rearrested many times, he wrote books in his detention period, such as Indian Struggle 1920-1934. He wrote this book when he was in forced exile in Europe for treatment of Tuberculosis.

When he returned from Europe in 1936, he was arrested again and released after a year. Bose often found himself out of terms with Gandhiji’s long term and non-violent plans and less confrontational approach. Bose became the youngest president of Congress in its Haripur session in 1938. He again contested in 1939 and defeated the confidant of Gandhiji, Pattabhi Sitarammaya, in the Tripuri session. But, viewing the tilt of the party towards Gandhiji and evading support for Bose, he resigned from the presidency and eventually from Indian National Congress. When he was president in 1938, he formed a National Planning Committee that formulated a broad industrialization policy in stark contrast to Gandhiji’s notion of cottage industry-led development. He founded Forward Bloc in 1939. When arrested again, he chose to undergo fast to death and was released. On January 26, 1941, he escaped in disguise from his Calcutta home and traveling via Kabul, Moscow, he reached Germany in April.

Along with fellow Indians, Bose made regular broadcasts from German sponsored Azad Hind Radio in various Indian languages. As the Japanese invaded South East Asia, Bose traveled in German and Japanese submarines and planes and reached Tokyo in 1943. He assumed leadership of the Indian Leadership Movement in East Asia and, with Japanese aid, formed a trained army of about 40,000 troops in South East Asia. Rash Bihari Bose handed over the Indian National army to Subhash Chandra Bose, who named it ‘Azad Hind Fauj.’ On October 21, 1943, Bose proclaimed the establishment of a provisional independent Indian Government in Singapore. Alongside Japanese troops, INA marched to Rangoon in Myanmar and to North-East India. The Army was defeated and forced to retreat. But the act of valor of INA became famous.

However, INA maintained its status as Liberation Army based in Burma and Indo-China border for some time. With the Japanese defeat in 1945, Bose’s plans received a setback. A few days later, Bose reportedly died in a plane crash in Taipei, Taiwan.

Bose’s slogan of ‘Chalo Dilli’ and ‘Jai Hind’ reverberated in Indian soil while he was away from the motherland. His call for ‘Give me blood and I shall give you Independence’ became a war cry for the upcoming phase of freedom struggle. Today’s youth can learn a lot from Bose’s life though they do not agree with his means.

Nevertheless, Bose’s INA showed British forces a glimpse of organized Indian Forces’ fighting spirit. Bose always emphasizes the strength of character. He said that cause is more important than any post. He urged people to go against the stream if required but stick on to their job and do not let the other side dictate the terms of their engagement.  This courage or ‘Parakram’ guides the Indian youth to do more for the development of the country.