BEYOND any doubt, India witnessed a proud moment when Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi named 21 islands in the Andaman and Nicobar group of isles after winners of Param Vir Chakra -- thus marking the 126th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. It is only natural that the country’s 1.35 billion people will remember this day forever because it relived the great memory of how Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had unfurled the national flag of free India exactly 80 years ago in Andaman when his Indian National Army freed that part of India from the alien British colonial rule. And is a better way than carving that moment on national memory by naming 21 Andaman islands after the 21 brave-hearts who were awarded Param Vir Chakra for their valour and verve! The Prime Minister -- and his Government -- has done a yeoman service to the country by inscribing the names of those 21 persons permanently on the national map.
This event has multiple angles to think of, the most important being that of how Netaji Bose had led his armies into the Andamans during the World War II and ousted the British and American forces from the region to declare India’s Independence on December 30, 1943. That India treats August 15 as its Independence Day is all right, since that was the day the British handed over the rule of India to Indians. But the historical and historic fact is that Netaji Bose had driven the alien rulers out of the Indian territory of Andaman and Nicobar islands four years earlier and had declared Independence as the first Prime Minister of the Government of India he founded in exile.
That event lend us a clear message that once the Indian National Army -- Azad Hind Sena -- established its control on the territory, the Government of India no longer remained one in exile. It stood on its own territory -- not just in the Andamans but also in the north-eastern parts of mainland India where National Flag was hoisted at several dozens of places to tell the world that India had become free from alien rule.
It was another matter that the Indian National Army had to accept a retreat along with the Japanese Army after America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan causing unprecedented devastation. But then, in war, such reverses do take place -- which actually do not obliterate the fact of victories won. The Indian National Army and the Government of India led by Prime Minister Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose never declared that war was over. Their fight was still on when Netaji’s mysterious departure took place. This part of history needs to be interpreted as the clear truth of India’s Independence having been achieved four years before the official date (of August 15, 1947).
Cumulatively, thus, the story of attainment of Independence has this glorious chapter when the handsome Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose stood tall and strong on the Andaman isles and hoisted India’s National Flag and said JAI HIND, a slogan he gave to India. The marching song of the Indian National Army was the iconic Kadam Kadam Badhaye Jaa, Khushi Ke Geet Gaye Jaa ..! The metaphor is important -- freedom means happiness, freedom means opportunity, freedom means growth, freedom means a chance to shape our own future guided by our own conscience, our own intelligence, our own collective efforts, as per our own dreams!
Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi communicated all this in one single shot by naming as many as 21 places in the group of Andaman and Nicobar islands. Thus, he revived the country’s collective memory of a glorious chapter in its history of struggle for Independence of India. The nation will always thank the Prime Minister for this initiative. The common people of India will always remain indebted to him to reminding them of the truth of history -- which was kept hidden from public knowledge by vested interests for their own reasons.
That makes this a very proud moment in the national memory. Now, when we visit those islands, we can state proudly the names of the Param Vir Chakra heroes to buy travel tickets -- by sea or air. Each such transaction will underline the great work those heroes did for the country -- by going beyond themselves!