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Subhas Chandra Bose
Born January 23, 1897(1897-01-23)
Cuttack, Orissa, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died 18 August 1945 (officially)
Nationality Indian
Occupation freedom fighter
Height 5ft 8.5in
Known for Indian independence movement activism and reorganising and leading the Indian National Army
Political party Indian National Congress, Forward Bloc
Religion Hinduism
Spouse(s) Emilie Schenkl
Children Anita Bose Pfaff

Subhas Chandra Bose (Bengali: সুভাষচন্দ্র বসু Shubashchôndro Boshu); born January 23, 1897; presumed to have died August 18, 1945 although this is disputed), popularly known as Netaji (literally "Respected Leader"), was a leader in the Indian independence movement.

Bose advocated complete freedom for India at the earliest, whereas the Congress Committee wanted it in phases, through a Dominion status. Other younger leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru supported Bose and finally at the historic Lahore Congress convention, the Congress had to adopt Purna Swaraj (complete freedom) as its motto. Bhagat Singh's martyrdom and the inability of the Congress leaders to save his life infuriated Bose and he started a movement opposing the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. He was imprisoned and expelled from India. But defying the ban, he came back to India and was imprisoned again.

Bose was elected president of the Indian National Congress for two consecutive terms, but had to resign from the post following ideological conflicts with Mahatma Gandhi and after openly attacking the Congress' foreign and internal policies. Bose believed that Mahatma Gandhi's tactics of non-violence would never be sufficient to secure India's independence, and advocated violent resistance. He established a separate political party, the All India Forward Bloc and continued to call for the full and immediate independence of India from British rule. He was imprisoned by the British authorities eleven times. His famous motto was "Give me blood and I will give you freedom".

His stance did not change with the outbreak of the Second World War, which he saw as an opportunity to take advantage of British weakness. At the outset of the war, he left India, travelling to the Soviet Union, Germany and Japan, seeking an alliance with the aim of attacking the British in India. With Japanese assistance, he re-organised and later led the Azad Hind Fauj or Indian National Army, formed from Indian prisoners-of-war and plantation workers from British Malaya, Singapore, and other parts of Southeast Asia, against British forces. With Japanese monetary, political, diplomatic and military assistance, he formed the Azad Hind Government in exile, regrouped and led the Indian National Army in battle against the allies at Imphal and in Burma.

His political views and the alliances he made with Nazi and other militarist regimes at war with Britain have been the cause of arguments among historians and politicians, with some accusing him of fascist sympathies, while others in India have been more sympathetic towards the inculcation of realpolitik as a manifesto that guided his social and political choices.

He is presumed to have died on 18 August 1945 in a plane crash over Taiwan. However, contradictory evidence exists regarding his death in the accident.


Early life

Subhash Chandra Bose was born in a Bengali Kayasth family on January 23 1897 in Cuttack (Odiya Bazar), Orissa, the ninth child among 14, of Janakinath Bose, an advocate, and Prabhavati Devi. Bose studied in an Anglo school at Cuttack until standard 6 which is now known as Stewart School and then shifted to Ravenshaw Collegiate School of Cuttack. A brilliant student, Bose topped the matriculation examination of Calcutta province in 1911 and passed his B.A. in 1918 in Philosophy from the Scottish Church College of the University of Calcutta.

Bose went to study in Fitzwilliam Hall of the University of Cambridge, and his high score in the Civil Service examinations meant an almost automatic appointment. He then took his first conscious step as a revolutionary and resigned the appointment on the premise that the "best way to end a government is to withdraw from it." At the time, Indian nationalists were shocked and outraged because of the Amritsar massacre and the repressive Rowlatt legislation of 1919. Returning to India, Bose wrote for the newspaper Swaraj and took charge of publicity for the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee. His mentor was Chittaranjan Das, spokesman for aggressive nationalism in Bengal. Bose worked for Das when the latter was elected mayor of Calcutta in 1924. In a roundup of nationalists in 1925, Bose was arrested and sent to prison in Mandalay, where he contracted tuberculosis.[1]

He was a devout Hindu and spent much time in meditation.[1] Strongly influenced by Swami Vivekananda's teachings, he was known for his patriotic zeal as a student.

National politics

Gandhi at the Indian National Congress annual meeting in 1938 when Subhas Chandra Bose was President of Congress party.

Released from prison two years later, Bose became general secretary of the Congress party and worked with Jawaharlal Nehru for independence. Again Bose was arrested and jailed for civil disobedience; this time he emerged Mayor of Calcutta. During the mid-1930s Bose traveled in Europe, visiting Indian students and European politicians, as well as Hitler in 1936. He observed party organization and saw communism and fascism in action.[1].By 1938 Bose had become a leader of national stature and agreed to accept nomination as Congress president. He stood for unqualified Swaraj (independence), including the use of force against the British. This meant a confrontation with Mohandas Gandhi, who in fact opposed Bose's presidency, splitting the Congress party. Bose attempted to maintain unity, but Gandhi advised Bose to form his own cabinet. The rift also divided Bose and Nehru. Bose appeared at the 1939 Congress meeting on a stretcher. Though he was elected president again, over Gandhi's preferred candidate Pattabhi Sitaramayya, this time differences with Gandhi led to Bose's resignation. "I am an extremist, " Bose once said, and his uncompromising stand finally cut him off from the mainstream of Indian nationalism.[1] Bose then organized the Forward Bloc aimed at consolidating the political left, but its main strength was in his home state, Bengal.

Indian National Army and Provisional Government

When world war II erupted in Europe, Bose was again imprisoned for civil disobedience and put under house arrest to await trial. He escaped and made his way to Berlin by way of Peshawar and Afghanistan. In Europe, Bose sought help from Germany for the liberation of India. He got Nazi permission to organize the Indian Legion of prisoners of war from Africa, but the legion remained basically German in training. Bose felt the need for stronger steps, and he turned to the Japanese embassy in Berlin, which finally made arrangements for Bose to go to Asia. In an unusual joint operation, he was transferred from a German to a Japanese submarine off the coast of Madagascar.

Bose was flown to Singapore and became commander of the INA and head of the Free India provisional government (Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind).

Subhas Chandra Bose with the Greater East Asia Conference in 1943

The INA included both Indian prisoners of war from Singapore and Indian civilians in Southeast Asia. The strength of the INA grew to 43,000. Bose ruled Andaman Islands and Nicobar Islands as a head of India. Bose refused to be granted aid, and asked Japan for conclusion of official India-Japan loan agreements, then they concluded the agreements.[2][3] The INA fought Allied forces in 1944 inside the borders of India at Imphal and in Burma, and even succeeding in liberating parts of North-East India from the Allies. Unfortunately, with Japan losing its way in the World War, aid to the INA was also reduced, and the army could not keep up its momentum. Three officers of the INA were tried at the Red Fort after the war; the trial attracted much popular sympathy, including statements by Nehru and Gandhi that the men were great patriots.

Disappearance and alleged death

Bose's last undisputed picture that was taken on the morning of 17 August 1945 in Saigon

Bose is alleged to have died in a plane crash over Taiwan, while flying to Tokyo on 18 August 1945. It is believed that he was on route to the Soviet Union in a Japanese plane when it crashed in Taiwan, burning him fatally. However, his body was never recovered, and many theories have been put forward concerning his possible survival. One such claim is that Bose actually died later in Siberia, while in Soviet captivity. Several committees have been set up by the Government of India to probe into this matter. In May 1956, a four-man Indian team (known as the Shah Nawaz Committee) visited Japan to probe the circumstances of Bose's alleged death. However, the Indian government did not then request assistance from the government of Taiwan in the matter, citing their lack of diplomatic relations with Taiwan. However, the Inquiry Commission under Justice Mukherjee, which investigated the Bose disappearance mystery in the period 1999-2005, did approach the Taiwanese government, and obtained information from the Taiwan Government that no plane carrying Bose had ever crashed in Taipei, and there was, in fact, no plane crash in Taiwan on 18 August 1945 as alleged..[4] The Mukherjee Commission also received a report originating from the U.S. Department of State supporting the claim of the Taiwan Government that no such air crash took place during that time frame.[5].

The Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry submitted its report to the Indian Government on November 8, 2005. The report was tabled in Parliament on May 17, 2006. The probe said in its report that as Bose did not die in the plane crash, and that the ashes at the Renkoji Temple (said to be of Bose's) are not his. However, the Indian Government rejected the findings of the Commission, though no reasons were cited.

Several documents which could perhaps provide lead to the disapearance of Bose have not been declassified by the Government of India, the reason cited being publication of these documents could sour India's relations with some other countries.

Bose was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award in 1992, but it was later withdrawn in response to a Supreme Court directive following a Public Interest Litigation filed in the Court against the "posthumous" nature of the award. The Award Committee could not give conclusive evidence on Bose's death and thus the "posthumous" award was invalidated. No headway was made on this issue however.

Bose's portrait hangs in the Indian Parliament, and a statue of him has been erected in front of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.

Mysterious monk

Several people believed that the Hindu sanyasi named Bhagwanji or 'Gumnami Baba', who lived in the house Ram Bhawan in Faizabad, UP at least until 1985, was Subhas Chandra Bose in exile. There had been at least four known occasions when Gumnami Baba reportedly claimed he was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.[6] The belongings of the sanyasi were taken into custody after his death, following a court order. These were later subjected to inspection by the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry. The commission came down against this belief, in the absence of any "clinching evidence".[7] The independent probe done by the Hindustan Times into the case however provided hints that the monk was Bose himself.[8] Some people belive that Gumnami Baba died on 16 September 1985, while some dispute this. The story of Gumnami Baba came to light on his death. It is alleged that he was cremated in the dead of night, just under the light of a motorcycle's headlamp, at Faizabad's popular picnic spot, on the bank of River Saryu. his face distorted by acid to protect his identity. Faizabad's Bengali community still pays homage at the memorial built at his cremation site on the anniversary of his birth. However, the life and activities of Bhagwanji remain a mystery even today and was never investigated by any government agency.

Personal life

Bose married Austrian secretary Emilie Schenkl (1910-96) at Bad Gastein in 1937. Their only child Anita Bose Pfaff (born 1942) is a professor of Economics at Augsburg University.

Political views

Subhas Chandra Bose, believed that the Vedanta and the Bhagavad Gita were the sources of inspiration for the struggle against the British.[9] Swami Vivekananda's teachings on universalism, his nationalist thoughts and his emphasis on social service and reform had all inspired Subhas Chandra Bose from his very young days. The fresh interpretation of the India's ancient scriptures had appealed immensely to him[10]. Many scholars believe that Hindu spirituality formed the essential part of his political and social thought through his adult life, although there was no sense of bigotry or orthodoxy in it[11].Subhas who called himself a socialist, believed that socialism in India owed its origins to Swami Vivekananda[12]. As historian Leonard Gordan explains "Inner religious explorations continued to be a part of his adult life. This set him apart from the slowly growing number of atheistic socialists and communists who dotted the Indian landscape." [13].

In this famous photograph the Nazi official along with Bose is often mistakenly identified as General Rommel.

Bose's correspondence (prior to 1939) reflects his deep disapproval of the racist practices of, and annulment of democratic institutions in Nazi Germany.[14] However, he expressed admiration for the authoritarian methods (though not the racial ideologies) which he saw in Italy and Germany during the 1930s, and thought they could be used in building an independent India.[15]

Bose had clearly expressed his belief that democracy was the best option for India.[16] The pro-Bose thinkers believe that his authoritarian control of the Azad Hind was based on political pragmatism and a post-colonial recovery doctrine rather than any anti-democratic belief.[citation needed] However, during the war (and possibly as early as the 1930s) Bose seems to have decided that no democratic system could be adequate to overcome India's poverty and social inequalities, and he wrote that an authoritarian state, similar to that of Soviet Russia (which he had also seen and admired) would be needed for the process of national re-building.[17] Accordingly some suggest that Bose's alliance with the Axis during the war was based on more than just pragmatism, and that Bose was a militant nationalist, though not a Nazi nor a Fascist, for he supported empowerment of women, secularism and other democratic ideas; alternatively, others consider he might have been using populist methods of mobilisation common to many post-colonial leaders.[15] Bose never liked the Nazis but when he failed to contact the Russians for help in Afghanistan he approached the Germans and Italians for help. His comment was that if he had to shake hands with the devil for India's independence he would do that.

On August 23, 2007, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Subhas Chandra Bose memorial hall in Kolkata.[18][19] Abe said to Bose's family "Japanese are deeply moved by Bose's strong will to have led the Indian independence movement from British rule."[18] "Netaji is a much respected name in Japan."[19]

Bose's Chair at Red Fort

The following words are inscribed on a brass shield in front of the chair which is symbolic to the sovereignty of the Republic of India, as also to the Psychological upkeep of the Armed Forces of India. The chair rests in a glass case and is a symbol of pride as well as national heritage.

"Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in order to free India from the shackles of British imperialism organized the Azad Hind Government from outside the country on October 21, 1943. Netaji set up the Provisional Government of Independent India (Azad Hind) and transferred its headquarter at Rangoon on January 7, 1944. On the 5th April, 1944, the "Azad Hind Bank" was inaugurated at Rangoon. It was on this occasion that Netaji used this chair for the first time. Later the chair was kept at the residence of Netaji at 51, University Avenue, Rangoon, where the office of the Azad Hind Government was also housed. Afterwards,at the time of leaving Burma, the Britishers handed over the chair to the family of Mr.A.T.Ahuja, the well known business man of Rangoon. The chair was officially handed over to the Government of India in January 1979. It was brought to Calcutta on the 17th July, 1980. It has now been ceremonially installed at the Red Fort on July 7, 1981."

See also


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ Chief of Hikari Kikan, lieutenant general Saburo Isoda. "スバス・チャンドラ・ポース首席". Subhas Chandre Bose Academy. 萬晩報. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  3. ^ "8 イラワジ会戦・日本の隆伏・ネタジ台北に死す(昭和19年10月―昭和20年8月18日)". Subhas Chandre Bose Academy. 萬晩報. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  4. ^ No crash at Taipei that killed Netaji: Taiwan govt. Outlook India
  5. ^ Netaji case: US backs Taiwan govt. Times of India. 19 Sep, 2005
  6. ^ - the name India trusts for news at
  7. ^ 'Netaji did not die in a plane crash'
  8. ^ Exclusive, Netaji’s death unraveled
  9. ^ Li Narangoa, R. B. Cribb, Imperial Japan and National Identities in Asia, 1895-1945, Published by Routledge, 2003
  10. ^ Sisir Kumar Bose, Aleander Werth, Narayan Gopal Jog, Subbier Appadurai Ayer, Beacon Across Asia: A Biography of Subhas Chandra Bose, Published by Orient Blackswan, 1996
  11. ^ Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Thy Hand, Great Anarch!: India, 1921-1952, Published by Chatto & Windus, 1987
  12. ^ P. R. Bhuyan, Swami Vivekananda, Published by Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2003
  13. ^ Leonard A. Gordon, Brothers Against The Raj:A Biography of Indian Nationalist Leaders Sarat and Subhas Chandra Bose, Published by Columbia University Press, 1990
  14. ^ Bose to Dr. Thierfelder of the Deutsche Academie, Kurhaus Hochland, Badgastein, 25th March 1936 "Today I regret that I have to return to India with the conviction that the new nationalism of Germany is not only narrow and selfish but arrogant." The Essential Writings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Edited by Sisir K. Bose & Sugata Bose (Delhi: Oxford University Press) 1997 p155
  15. ^ a b Sen, S. 1999. Subhas Chandra Bose 1897-1945. From webarchive of this URL.
  16. ^ Roy, Dr. R.C. 2004. Social, Economic and Political Philosophy of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. pp.7-8. Orissa Review. URL accessed on 6 April 2006
  17. ^ "The Fundamental Problems of India" (An address to the Faculty and students of Tokyo University, November 1944): "You cannot have a so-called democratic system, if that system has to put through economic reforms on a socialistic basis. Therefore we must have a political system - a State - of an authoritarian character. We have had some experience of democratic institutions in India and we have also studied the working of democratic institutions in countries like France, England and United States of America. And we have come to the conclusion that with a democratic system we cannot solve the problems of Free India. Therefore, modern progressive thought in India is in favour of a State of an authoritarian character" The Essential Writings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Edited by Sisir K. Bose & Sugata Bose (Delhi: Oxford University Press) 1997 pp319-20
  18. ^ a b "訪印中の安倍首相、東京裁判のパール判事の息子らと面会". Elizabeth Roche. AFPBB News. 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  19. ^ a b "Shinzo Abe visits Netaji Bhavan, sees notion of a ‘Broader Asia’". Staff Reporter. The Hindu. 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 

Further reading

  • Indian Pilgrim: an unfinished autobiography / Subhas Chandra Bose; edited by Sisir Kumar Bose and Sugata Bose, Oxford University Press, Calcutta, 1997
  • The Indian Struggle, 1920-1942 / Subhas Chandra Bose; edited by Sisir Kumar Bose and Sugata Bose, Oxford University Press, Calcutta, 1997 ISBN 978-0195641493
  • Brothers Against the Raj—A biography of Indian Nationalists Sarat and Subhas Chandra Bose / Leonard A. Gordon, Princeton University Press, 1990
  • Lost hero: a biography of Subhas Bose / Mihir Bose, Quartet Books, London; 1982
  • Jungle alliance, Japan and the Indian National Army / Joyce C. Lebra, Singapore, Donald Moore for Asia Pacific Press,1971
  • The Forgotten Army: India's Armed Struggle for Independence, 1942-1945, Peter W. Fay, University of Michigan Press, 1993, ISBN 0-472-08342-2 / ISBN 81-7167-356-2
  • Democracy Indian style: Subhas Chandra Bose and the creation of India's political culture / Anton Pelinka; translated by Renée Schell, New Brunswick, NJ : Transaction Publishers (Rutgers University Press), 2003
  • Subhas Chandra Bose: a biography / Marshall J. Getz, Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., USA, 2002
  • The Springing Tiger: Subhash Chandra Bose / Hugh Toye : Cassell, London, 1959
  • Netaji and India's freedom: proceedings of the International Netaji Seminar, 1973 / edited by Sisir K. Bose. International Netaji Seminar (1973: Calcutta, India), Netaji Research Bureau, Calcutta, India, 1973
  • Correspondence and Selected Documents, 1930-1942 / Subhas Chandra Bose; edited by Ravindra Kumar, Inter-India, New Delhi, 1992.
  • Letters to Emilie Schenkl, 1934-1942 / Subhash Chandra Bose; edited by Sisir Kumar Bose and Sugata Bose, Permanent Black : New Delhi, 2004
  • Japanese-trained armies in Southeast Asia: independence and volunteer forces in World War II / Joyce C. Lebra, New York : Columbia University Press, 1977
  • Burma: The Forgotten War / Jon Latimer, London: John Murray, 2004

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From Wikiquote

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.

Subhas Chandra Bose (23 January 189718 August 1946) was a freedom fighter in the Indian independence movement who believed in forcible resistance to British colonial rule, going on to create the famed Indian National Army.

During the Second World War he founded an army of Indian soldiers, previously part of the British Indian Army, imprisoned by the Japanese. Having rallied them from Japanese internment camps as well as other Southeast Asian villages, Bose's Indian National Army, allied and funded by Japan and the Axis powers, fought the British Indian Army. With the defeat of Japan, the Indian National Army was disintegrated.

He gave the magical words 'Jai Hind' which became new form of salutation in independent India. He called Mahatma Gandhi 'father of the nation' a term which became popular among the masses

In India, he is considered a national hero, having rattled the cage of British domination in the country.


  • An Indian Pilgrim : An unfinished autobiography -- My Faith (Philosophical)

"Reality is, after all , too big for our frail understanding to fully comprehend. Nevertheless, we have to build our life on the theory which contains the maximum truth.We cannot sit still because we cannot, or do not , know the Absolute Truth."

  • Letter to elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose on September 22, 1920 ( Source : An Indian Pilgrim )

"You will readily understand my mental condition as I stand on the threshold of what the man-in-the-street would call a promising career.There is much to be said favour of such a service. It solves once for all what is paramount problem for each of us -- the problem of bread and butter.One has not to go face life with risk or uncertainty as to success or failure. But for a man of my temperament who has been feeding on ideas which might be called eccentric -- the line of least resistance is not the best to follow .Life loses half its interest if there is no struggle -- if there are no risks to be taken.The uncertainties of life are not appalling to one who has not , at heart , worldly ambitions. Moreover , it is not possible to serve one's country in the best and fullest manner if one is chained to the Civil Service . In short , national and spiritual aspirations are not compatible with obedience to Civil Service Examinations."

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