January 23rd is a day of remembrance, it’s a day of reflection, it’s a day to introspect the proud history of India’s freedom struggle. On this day, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was – “not born alone”, but the idea of “India a reality” was also born and the vision of “India of the future” was born.
Netaji said, “We should have but one desire today – the desire to die so that India may live – the desire to face a martyr’s death, so that the path to freedom may be paved with the martyr’s blood.”
Are you aware that it was India’s greatest unsung hero -Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose who stood in front of the then world’s greatest power and said, “I will not ask you for freedom, I will take away freedom”.
A million salutes to Netaji and his Azad Hind Fauj on this historic day. His true personality can be reflected both as a warrior and a visionary statesman.
Netaji’s role in the Indian Freedom Struggle
Most respectfully while our beloved Gandhiji is the “Father of the Nation”, most deservingly our hero Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is the “Liberator and God Father of the Nation”. Netaji’s brand of “Fiery Revolutionary Patriotism” added a new spark of hope to the dying embers of the Indian freedom struggle after the suppression of the Quit India movement in 1942 -1945.
While the non-violent struggle certainly had an impact on the masses, the uniformed Indian fraternity was kept isolated by the Oppressive British. It was the spirit and sacrifices of the INA and its march to Imphal, which gave a catalytic inspiration to a series of revolts by Indian soldiers – February of 1946 – Royal Indian Navy uprising (78 ships mutinied), followed by the Royal IAF demonstrations and strikes and then a week later the army mutiny in Jabalpur. This was the turning point for the Britishers, a most horrific nightmare that sapped their ‘will’ forcing them to beat a hasty retreat from India earlier than planned.
Netaji said in his fiery speech and I quote: “Our Motherland Is Calling. Blood Is Calling Blood. It Is Blood Alone That Can Pay The Price Of Freedom. Give Me Blood And I Will Give You Freedom!”
But this fight came at an enormous sacrifice. From the first war of independence in 1857 to 1947 many freedom fighters had sacrificed their lives for the nation and I salute each one of them. But perhaps none paralleled INA under Netaji’s leadership, INA comprised close to 60,000 Bharati Soldiers, who sacrificed an astonishing 26,000 lives for the freedom of the nation. Freedom comes at an immense cost but retaining that freedom comes at an even greater cost. This is where we need to show gratitude to the brave soldiers past and present for the comfort that we live in today.
Again, with all due respect, if Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of the divided dominion of India, it was Netaji who was the first PM of undivided united India, when he proclaimed the establishment of a provisional Independent India (Azad Hind) government on October 21, 1943, and declared war against the British by organising an army – Azad Hind Fauj, Azad Hind Bank with its currency, Hindustani as the official language, its newspaper and radio.
Historically, the first tricolour after independence was hoisted on Red Fort on the night of 14-15 August 1947, it must be known that the first sacred tricolour to be hoisted on Indian soil was on 14 April 1944, by Col Shaukat Ali Malik of the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) at Moirang Kangla in Manipur with the slogan “Chalo Dilli”.
Today every army man greets you with “Jai Hind” and its soldiers march to the official tune of…..
Qadam qadam baṛhāye jā
Khushī ke geet gāye jā
Ye zindagī hai qaum kī
Tū qaum pe lutāye jā
Do not forget Jai Hind was officially the greeting coined by INA and the tune was the marching tune of INA towards its march from Imphal to Delhi – Chalo Dilli and was banned by the British.
Today when you see with pride women donning uniforms in the three services do not forget the 10,000-strong Rani Jhansi Regiment of INA formed by Netaji which fought shoulder to shoulder in the freedom struggle with matching sacrifices.
Netaji and his Impact On the Strategic Affairs of Modern India
Netaji was amongst those key people who shaped India’s strategic culture and ideology of India. Their idea of India revolved around “Swaraj” which is more wholesome than just independence – Netaji termed it as the “political, social and economic freedom of the nation”. His clarity of thought and purpose were reflected in his dual mission:
- To liberate India from the British rule, exploitation and oppression.
- Reconstruction of a free India with an indigenous character and holistic inclusive growth.
Netaji’s ideology and the idea of India were in essence based on the follwing four principles:
- Integrated and Composite Nationalism – Nation Above All. Everything else is secondary.
- Secularism where being Bharati was supreme, above religion, caste, creed or gender.
- Socialism aimed at creating an egalitarian society of equal status and shared benefit. He identified in his words the key challenges as “Eradication of Our Problems of Poverty, Illiteracy and Disease”.
- Democratic structure wherein the common man could be the agent of change.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: A Visionary And A Realist
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose knew that World War II was bound to happen sooner or later, as a natural corollary to the Versailles Treaty. He knew that our motherland could not be liberated unless a military campaign was launched from outside India. He knew also that facilities could be obtained for such a campaign only from Britain’s enemies and not from Britain’s allies during World War II. With these basic ideas, he made good his escape from India and proceeded first to Germany and thence to Japan.
Netaji’s farsightedness can also be seen in the fact that he firmly believed in democracy as the best form of governance for an independent India and recommended the setting up of a planning commission with an emphasis on the economy. This was mentioned by him in the 1938 Haripura session of the Congress Party and was then set up swiftly with Netaji selecting Nehruji to take charge of the same. Thus, the former Planning Commission of India and its current avatar Niti Aayog are the brainchild of Netaji, who had thought of the same nine years before India’s independence.
The directive principles of state policy in the Indian Constitution can also be attributed to the genius of Netaji. In his short duration as president of the INC, he had written a letter to all congress leaders containing policy guidelines for the governance of their respective provinces which later became the framework for many of the directive principles of our constitution.
Netaji’s Economic Outlook
For Netaji, economic freedom was the essence of social and political freedom and self-reliance was the means to achieve it; he spoke of the need for a comprehensive integrated industrial plan focussing on large-scale industries integrated with the cottage and small industry. He believed in socialising our entire agriculture and industrial system in the domain of both production and distribution.
Netaji: A Military Leader and Transformer
His leadership of the Indian National Army (INA) in 1943 was a crowning achievement. He believed and in his own words – “Men, Money and Materials cannot by themselves bring victory or freedom. We must have the motive-power that will inspire us to brave deeds and heroic exploits.” As a national leader, he emphasised the respect the nation needs to give to its warriors and empower them to protect the nation. He fully appreciated the relationship between Defence, Development and Diplomacy. Yet Development and Diplomacy remain powerful only if the Defence Forces of a nation are strong.
He is the only leader who was a unique amalgamation of the Firebrand spirit of the revolutionaries – a warrior leader and diplomatic-cum-administrative skills of the moderates, reflected in his Chanakya-like understanding of the statecraft and diplomacy.
Three quotes – of his remain ever relevant in countering the multitude of threats to the nation today: –
“The Secret Of Political Bargaining Is To Look Stronger Than What You Are.” (Winning or Losing Is In the Mind – If U Behave Like a Nail You Will Be Hit By a Hammer)
“No Real Change In History Has Ever Been Achieved By Discussions.”(Only Action Is Respected In Real World)
“Build Our National Defence System On Such Unshakable Grounds That Never Again In The History Of Time Shall We Lose Our Freedom.” (Capability Building; Defence Industrial Base And Defence Modernisation)
In a white paper prepared by the British Military’s Chief of Staff, it was envisioned to retain India and the Indian Ocean at least till 1960. But what brought Britain to its knees was not the Quit India Movement alone which was suppressed, but the series of revolts in Feburary 1946, inspired by the INA’s spirit and sacrifices for freedom. Netaji had envisioned this in July 1943 and was later acknowledged by the then British PM Clement Attlee during his visit to India.
History must be reclaimed and reoriented to unveil the hidden truths and give our unsung heroes a place of pride.
I close with my short tribute to Netaji and the INA.
ODE TO THE AZAD HIND FAUJ
It was a turbulent 1942 love story,
The love for the country, the story of our independence;
The epic slogan of “Jai Hind”, the iconic Salute of Pride,
Unity, Faith and Sacrifice their motto glorified;
The clarion call “ Tum Mujhe Khoon Do”,
The fearless promise “Mein Tumhe Azadi Dunga”,
Men and women defying the oppressive might,
Many lost lives, the flame of freedom burning bright;
It is said freedom comes at a heavy price,
“Qadam Qadam Badaye Ja“ they marched in selfless sacrifice;
Oh Lord make me worthy of thee,
Never forgetting these Angels that set my country free.
BE A PROUD INDIAN AND VALUE OUR RICH HISTORY.
-The author is a PVSM, AVSM, VSM has had an illustrious career spanning nearly four decades. A distinguished Armoured Corps officer, he has served in various prestigious staff and command appointments including Commander Independent Armoured Brigade, ADG PP, GOC Armoured Division and GOC Strike 1. The officer retired as DG Mechanised Forces in December 2017 during which he was the architect to initiate process for reintroduction of Light Tank and Chairman on the study on C5ISR for Indian Army. Subsequently he was Consultant MoD/OFB from 2018 to 2020. The Officer is a reputed defence analyst, a motivational speaker and prolific writer on matters of military, defence technology and national security.The views expressed are personal and do not necessarily carry the views of Raksha Anirveda.