Assist. Prof. Pyar Singh Thakur
I asked to name the first Prime Minister of India; most people would answer Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Or I asked many students at universities, colleges, schools and intellectuals to name the person who formed the first provisional government of India at his vigor. The history and historians also strangled the contribution and sacrifice of these heroes for the independence of India. The reply will be JL Nehru. In India, many heroes of the Independence of India like Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and Sardar Bhagat Singh and other heroes of India never adored and respected as they should be high esteemed after the independence of India. Even in 1992, the government of India’s decision to confer the award Bharat Ratana on Subhash Chandra was took very late after the independence of India, and opposed the award by those who had refused to accept the fact of the demise of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, including some members Netaji’s extended family. Following a 1997 Supreme Court decision, the press communiqué announcing Bose’s award was cancelled; it is the only time when the award was announced but not conferred. No government of India could prove the mystery of the anonymity of Netaji till date. Now a new hope has been raised again that present central government of India would remove all strangled mysteries of Subhash Chandra Bose as government is showing its stellar efforts to reach the truth of this mystery. But how many would know who formed the first Provisional Government of India? Before India gained Independence, the first Provisional Government of India was formed by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Netaji was also the Prime Minister of this Government. On October 21, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had hoisted the National Flag at Red Fort to commemorate the 75th anniversary of formation of Azad Hind Government. On January 23, 2021, celebrations to commemorate 125th birth anniversary of Netaji will take place across the country. On January 23, 1897, in Cuttack, Odisha, Janakinath Bose made a diary entry saying, “A baby boy was born in afternoon.” The father wanted his son to grow up to become an ICS officer. In the year 1920, his son fulfilled his wish by securing fourth position in the country in ICS exam. But perhaps he was destined to serve his motherland India instead.
At the age of 15-16 years, he wrote to his mother asking, “Is there not a single son of the poor Bharat Mata who shall dedicate his life to the service of the motherland by giving up his vested interests? Tell me mother, when will we wake up from the slumber?” Maybe it was because of this love and patriotism he had towards his country that he could not serve the British Government in his stint as an ICS officer. In 921, as he was on the verge of taking the plunge by resigning from the Indian Civil Service, he wrote to his elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose, “Only on the soil of sacrifice and suffering can we raise our national edifice.” After resigning from the office, he came to meet Mahatma Gandhi on the advice of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das. He became a great freedom fighter and thinker who devoted his entire life to the cause of Indian freedom struggle. The nation knows him by the name of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Netaji was the one who had first addressed Mahatma Gandhi as “Father of the Nation”. During the period of 1921 to 1941, he was imprisoned by the British at least 11 times.
It was on October 21, 1943, that Subhash Chandra Bose announced the formation of the first Provisional Government of India. He became its Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Foreign Minister. Lt. Col. A.C. Chatterjee was the Finance Minister, A.S. Aiyyar was the Publicity and Propaganda Minister and Rash Bihari Bose was the Supreme Advisor in this Azad Hind Government.
Nine countries gave recognition to the Bose Government at that time. Japan was the first one to recognize his Government on October 23, 1943. After that Germany, Phillippines, Thailand, Manchuria and Croatia recognized the Government. The Azad Hind Government in collusion with Japan had formulated a plan to enter the North Eastern part of India via Burma (now Myanmar). Bose made Rangoon, the capital of Myanmar, his headquarters which was then under the occupation of Japan. On March 18, 1944, Bose and cadres of his Indian National Army entered Kohima in India.
EFFORT TO PROTECT AND PRESERVE NETAJI’S HERITAGE
Since 2014, the Government of India has taken several measures towards preserving and conserving the precious heritage of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
On October 21, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoisted the National Flag at Red Fort to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of formation of the Azad Hind Government in honour of Netaji. This was the first time that apart from Independence Day the National Flag was hoisted at the Red Fort. Making the occasion, Prime Minister Modi had said, “This is the same Red Fort where 75 years ago Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had dreamt of a victory parade. Taking oath as the first Prime Minister of the Azad Hind Government, Netaji had announced that the Tricolour would be hoisted with full glory one day at the Red Fort. Today India’s 125 Crore people are moving ahead with the resolution of a New India; a New India that was also envisaged by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.” Not only this, during his visit to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had joined the programme to mark 75th anniversary of hoisting Tricolour by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
Women at War
In 1943, in Singapore, amid the ongoing world war second, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose created the Rani Jhansi Regiment, an all-women corps of soldiers.
YEAR-LONG CELEBRATIONS TO MARK 125TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY
The Government of India has constituted a High Level Committee to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The High Level Commemoration Committee is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also includes experts, historians, authors and family members of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. This also includes eminent persons associated with Indian National Army. The committee will decide on the activities for year-long commemoration starting from January 23, 2021. Activities to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Bose will be held in Delhi, Kolkata and other places associated with Netaji and Indian National Army, both in India as well as overseas. The 125th Birth Anniversary of Netaji would include a grand exhibition on Netaji at Victoria Memorial, Kolkata. Celebrations would also include cultural programmes in West Bengal under the “Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat” theme.
DECIDING UPON THE NATIONAL ANTHEM, NATIONAL FLAG AND INA
Bose decided upon Rabindranath Tagore’s song Jana Gana Mana…….as the Anthem of Indian National Army—– a choice that was ratified by the Indian Government after Independence. However, the Indian National Army was an armed force formed by —–march Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja has been credited by some for the modern tune of the Indian National Anthem. The Indian National Army’s (INA) aim was to secure Indian Independence from British Rule. Its Indian soldiers fought alongside Japanese soldiers during world war second against English. The army was first formed in 1942 under Mohan Singh at Singapore but a nationalist Rash Behari Bose handed over Indian National Army to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. INA was was revived under the leadership of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose after his arrival in South-East Asia in 1943. This army was declared to be the army of Bose’s Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind (The Provisional Government of Free India). Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose named the brigades/regiments of INA after Gandhi, Maulana Azad and himself. You know that Netaji Subhash Chanda Bose also formed an all-women regiment named after Rani of Jhanshi, Lakshmibai. Under Bose’s leadership, the INA drew ex-prisoners and thousands of civilian volunteers from the Indian expatriate population in Malaya, now called Malaysia and Burma. This second INA fought along with the Imperial Japanese Army against the British and Commonwealth forces in the campaigns in Burma- at Imphal and Kohima, and later against the Allied retaking of Burma. The end of the war saw many of the troops repatriated to India where some faced trials for treason. These trials became a galvanizing point in the Indian Independence Movement. You also know that the Bombay Mutiny in the Royal Indian Navy British-India based army and other mutinies in 1946 are thought to have been caused by the nationalist feelings that were caused by the INA trials. These events played a crucial role in hastening the end of British Rule in India. As result, a number of people associated with the Indian National Army (INA) during the world war second later went on to hold important roles in public life in India as well as in other countries in South-East Asia, most notably Lakshmi Sehgal in India, and John Thivy and Janaki Athinahappan in Malaya/Malaysia. The INA attacked on British rule and also made pressure through America and other countries of the world over British Government to free India expeditiously. After the world war second and independence of India, the soldiers of INA were seen as patriots by myriad of Indians. He also decided that Jai Hind would be adopted as a common greeting. He had asked his followers to find a common national greeting that would be acceptable to all religious communities and also have a nice ring to it. The phrase Jai Hind was suggested by Abid Hasan his personal secretary and interpreter. It sounded perfect to Bose, and it was adopted as the formal manner of greeting for cadres of the Indian National Army. And the green, saffron and white Tricolour of the Indian National Congress was adopted as the national flag of the Azad Hind Government.
AFTER 60 YEARS, FILES RELATED TO NETAJI DE-CLASSIFIED
At least three committees were formed to investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. But each committee’s report was left to gather dust. After taking charge in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took initiative in this direction. On October 14, 2015, 35 family members of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had called on the Prime Minister. After meeting them, the Prime Minister said, “The nation that forgets its history also loses the power to create history. I see no reason to choke history. That is why the Government will initiate the process of de-classification of files.” And with this, the first lot of 33 files related to Netaji was handed over to the National Archives of India on December 4, 2015. On January 23, 2016, on the occasion of Netaji’s birth anniversary, digital copies of 100 files were released by the Prime Minister. All the files related to Netaji can be viewed at the web portal www.netajipapers.gov.in
NEW HONOUR TO NETAJI BY THE GOVERNMENT
A museum on Subhash Chandra Bose was established at the Red Fort. Apart from this, the Government is planning another museum in Kolkata
In 2018, three islands in Andaman and Nicobar were renamed. The Ross Island was renamed as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Dweep; the Neil Island as Shaheed Dweep; and the Havelock Island as Swaraj Dweep.
In 2018, the Government instituted an annual award known as Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar to recognize the excellent work done by individuals and institutions in India in the field of disaster management.
CONSPIRACY THEORIES ABOUT NETAJI SUBHASH CHANDRA BOSE’S DEMISE, WHICH ONE IS TRUE?
It has been 75 years since Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was declared dead but the mystery still has not died down. The four theories about the mysterious death of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose probably hold the key to what happened to the firebrand Independence leader. Will we ever know the truth, possibly not? But it does not make for some great conspiracy theory! The most common myth and something that is widely believed is what were stated in an RTI reply to Sayak Sen by the government of India. Considering the reports from the Shanawaz Committee, the government said that he died in a plane crash in Taiwan along with Japanese General Shidel on August 18, 1945, and that his body was cremated the same day and the ashes were taken to a Buddhist temple in Tokyo, which eventually led to other controversies. According to the book authored by Major General GD Bakshi, “Bose: The Indian Samurai- Netaji” and the “INA Military Assessment” Netaji did not die in a plane crash, but the theory was floated to facilitate his escape to the Soviet Union. So, while clarifying the mystery of his death this book says he died during the torture by the British in prison. Furthermore, Paris based historian JBP-More quoted reports from the France Secret Service, which once said that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was still alive in 1947. In the report it clearly stated that he was the ex-chief of the Indian Independence league and also a member of Hikari Kikan, a Japanese Organization. While the British and India stayed strong to the point that he died while replying to an RTI application in a plane crash, the French never endorsed that theory. Next, there existed a theory which also said that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose returned to India and lived as a hermit in Faizabad in Oudh with a different name Gumnami Baba the incognito man who lived till 1985. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is also believed to have left behind a myriad of his trunks. But these all theories about the demise of Netaji are wheel less and not fact based with solid evidences. Publicly at least, the then Congress government in India believed Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose disappeared on August 18, 1945. This is because the freedom fighter’s fate continues to be among India’s single biggest unresolved political mysteries. Three inquiries have failed to put the issue to rest and every prime minister from Pandit JL Nehru to Manmohan Singh has bequeathed this contentious issue to his successors. One reason the people of India want to know, why the classified ‘Netaji Files’ were held by the previous Prime Ministers’ Office so far before Modi government regime? Some of them are dating back to India’s independence. On January 23, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pressed a button at the National Archives in New Delhi to release one hundred classified Netaji files with over 15,000 pages in them. It is a commendable initiative on behalf of Modi government at least trot out Netaji Files from the previous PM Offices to the National Archives. The people of India are expecting from Modi government to prove the reality of the departed leader Netaji’s death mystery.
Subhash Chandra Bose, the superintendent of the Indian Independence movement, who had shaken the foundations of British rule by slapping ‘Jai Hind’ after stumbling down a comfortable civil service job, had a strong connection with Himachal Pradesh. In the beginning of May in the year 1937, Subhash Chandra Bose secretly spent seven months in Dalhousie. Before coming to Dalhousie, the British government put Subhash in jail. Here his health was declining rapidly. At the family’s insistence and worsening condition, the British High Court released Netaji on parole. Subhash Chandra Bose then decided to go to Dalhousie to visit his student life friend of England, Dr. Dharamvir and his wife. In those days, Dalhousie was a famous healing place in North India. Seven months later, Netaji returned from Dalhousie, recovering well. The kinetic estate was the private bungalow of Dr. NR Dharamvir, originally from Lahore. This bungalow was built by him in 1933. This building became world famous when Subhash Chandra Bose spent seven months in secret here in 1937.