Netaji – The Unsolved Riddle
“Freedom is to society what health is to the individual.” – Lord BolingbrokeA society without freedom ultimately jeopardizes the well being of its citizens and social prosperity. People long for freedom. Freedom gives every individual a sense of hope and a meaning in life. Since time immemorial, people have been fighting for freedom based on their own situation and circumstances in life. While some shouts for freedom from dictatorship and never-ending tyranny, others are screaming against dangerous substances such as alcohol or drugs. Back in the early 20th century, India fell in the first category, where the only word that made sense for every Indian was, “Freedom”.India was enveloped by the British rule and Freedom seemed nothing but a distant reality. The curtains were down and India awaited a warring subjugator, who could destroy the British rule and out stepped Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, the son of Janakinath Bose and Prabhavati Devi. He was born on the 23rd January at Cuttack, Orissa.We all know that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and the then Brtish Government had no love lost between them. He had tremendous hatred against the British Government because they had unleashed inhuman torture and atrocities against the innocent Indians. Yet he sat for the ICS Examination in deference to his father’s wish. He came out with flying colors and stood fourth in the Examination. In the Viva-voce test, he was asked some interesting and difficult questions because they wanted to fail him. One of the questions was a) How many buckets of water are there in the ocean? Subhash replied,” It depends on the size of the bucket.” The interviewers were stumped. The second question was b) What is the difference between a soldier and a woman? They thought they had called Subhash on the wrong foot. How wrong they were! Subhash gave them a brilliant answer: A woman powders her face and a soldier faces the powders. The examiners were stunned. He cleared the Indian Civil Service examination in 1920 in England.The Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre moved and disturbed him, too much. He resigned from his civil service job on April 23, 1921. Under the deep influence of Mahatma Gandhi, he joined the Indian National Congress. He was very much impressed by Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das and began to regard him as his political guru and guide.Subhash Chandra was arrested several times, for example, he was arrested in Kolkata in December 1921 when he joined the boycott of Prince of Wales’ visit. He was again arrested in October 1924 and sent to prison at Mandalay Jail in Burma (Myanmar). Later he became the Mayor of Kolkata.Earlier, Bose had been a leader of the younger, radical, wing of the Indian National Congress in the late 1920s and 1930s, rising to become Congress President in 1938 and 1939. He was expelled from Congress leadership positions in 1939, following differences with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and the Congress high command, after openly attacking the Congress’ foreign and internal policies. Bose did believe that Gandhi’s tactics of non-violence would never be sufficient to secure independence and advocated violent resistance. Subhash Chandra launched an all-India anti-British Campaign in September 1939. He was arrested in July 1940. Later he was put under house-arrest, but then he disappeared in the guise of a Pathan and reached Berlin, Germany in November 1941.He reached Malaya and established Indian National Army (INA) or Azad Hind Fauz by recruiting Indian prisoners of war. In June 1943, he visited Japan to have the support of the Japanese government in the freedom struggle of India. On October 21, 1943, he became the commander of the Indian National Army in Singapore and began his military struggle against the British. He also established the Provisional Government of Free India there. In December 1943 he occupied Andaman and Nicobar Islands.In December 1944 the Indian National Army crossed the Burma-India Border and reached Kohima and then Imphal. But the surrender of the Japanese forced him to withdraw and call off the war. It is believed that he lost his life in a plane crash on August 18, 1945, at the Taihoku airport, Formosa.Subhash Chandra was one of the greatest freedom-fighters and patriots and is the Pride of Bengal. He became a legend in his lifetime as a great leader, fiery orator, and organizer. His military exploits, unmatched patriotism, and exemplary bravery have made him a role model for the young men and women of India. He still lives in our hearts and minds and works as a leading light and source of inspiration.“By freedom, I mean all-around freedom, i.e. freedom for the individual as well as for the society; freedom for the rich as well as for the poor; freedom for men as well as for women; freedom for all individuals and for all classes.”—Netaji Subhash Chandra BoseLet us all strive toward such a freedom, in which, we ALL would live as one. Today, let us with all our fellow citizens, utter his ever memorable magic cry – Jai Hind!