What Netaji Means To Us - VI
   Date :05-Mar-2022

“I am prepared for the worst and I feel it would be a good privilege to be allowed to suffer for a cause which to me is dear. ... I am confident that swaraj is at hand ...”
- Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, in a letter from prison to his father, on December 12, 1921.
EVEN through censored letters that the British authorities allowed to be passed on to his father, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s strength of character demonstrates itself. He suffered terribly in British jails in various places, but did not allow his spirit to be overwhelmed or daunted by the hardship of worst order. He remained cheerful, and kept making efforts to communicate to people outside that the cause of freedom was far more important than all the suffering within the prison.
That was the spirit which every patriot carried within his head and heart. In the infamous Mandalay Jail in the then Burma (now Myanmar), Netaji fell very ill, and the doctors could not diagnose the ailment. Netaji wrote to his father about the difficulty. Yet, even in that condition, he was reported to have written six essays on various facets of India’s current condition and the post-Independence projections. Those essays did not not survive, as many think. Possibly, the British managed to steal those precious documents and never gave those back to Netaji Bose upon his release from Mandalay where is was put up between 1925 and 1927. But there are reasons to believe that those documents showed his deep thinking and high optimism.
Such was the man -- all the time wedded to the cause, and looking forward, no matter the suffering, no matter the mountains of difficulties on the way. A faint smile often resided on his lips and his calm countenance gave people a sense of confidence that freedom of India was only a matter of time not too distant into future. Everybody got the message right.
Some vested interests later portrayed Netaji Bose as man who believed in violence -- as against the principle of non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi. Such a propaganda is just unfair to the man. There was no question of a belief in violence, so to say. The issue at hand was more than clear. For long years, the Indian leadership has remained trapped in the idea of non-violence as a tool to independence. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, too, followed that ideology as a top leader of the Congress party.
But with passage of time and wastage of a lot of unfruitful effort, Netaji Bose and many other started questioning Gandhiji’s method. They realised that so-called non-violence could never be an effective tool to gaining independence. His turn to explore the military option came out of that frustration -- which has been well recorded in the accounts of those times.
Netaji tried his best to turn the Congress party’s thought-process to stronger ways -- which at that moment did not suggest military option at all. But after some time, he, like many others, felt defeated by the Congress establishment. Even as this struggle within the Congress party went on, and he founded his own party titled Forward Block, Netaji Bose was arrested by the British far more times than any of the other leaders. That forced him to spend some time away from in India -- in Europe, promoting the cause of India’s independence. That international exposure led him to think that only the military option had the capacity to loosen the British grip on India.
To us today, the meaning of the metaphor of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is that he had the courage to change the track to serve his purpose, his goal -- against the strong Congress establishment that did not allow him to function properly as the President, a post he fought and won against Mr. Pattabhi Sitharamayya, who was Mahatmaji’s own choice. If he were allowed to function properly, he might never have left the Congress party.
But Netaji was a man of strong principles with which he could accept no compromise. Despite this, before he formed his own party Forward Block, he kept confiding in his close associates about the need to convince the Mahatma about thinking of other options as well to defeat the British. He charted his separate way only when all those attempts failed.
Netaji means this to all of us. Freedom was his goal, and to pursue that, he followed his intuition to the hilt, and succeeded in liberating large parts of the country through the military option -- which he handled with such sophistication that even his worst opponents in the British camp were shocked and surprised. Records are available when professional soldiers and top military leaders felt dwarfed with the quality of Netaji’s leadership during war. He was in full command of every possible detail -- of strategy and tactics, of politics and diplomacy, of administration and governance. He was a military leader par excellence, and he was a statesman par excellence. This is what Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose means to us -- as a leader of rare merit and near-divine qualities.
It is most unfortunate that the leadership of post-1947 India did not allow the great qualities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to be known to the common public. Enough evidence is available to prove that the powers that be in India immediately after August 15, 1947 tried every dirty trick to put a dark veil over Netaji’s persona in every possible way -- as if Netaji somehow had offended them personally at some point in time. Some leaders of the India of those times even were said to have stated unequivocally that they would never support the cause Netaji was espousing. It is against this background that we must understand the importance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as the man who liberated India before August 15, 1947 -- on the strength of his character, qualities and contribution. This is what he means to us is in quintessence!