There’s a reason why I am paying my respects to this great lion-hearted freedom fighter today out of all the great men and women who have sacrificed their lives in the past for our better today. And the reason is that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was a man who was at the forefront of the Indian freedom struggle, who was one of those men who contributed the most to India’s cause; but who has unfortunately been the least honoured among all the other great men. Indians have not paid a fitting tribute to this great revolutionary even after 67 years of independence. While Netaji was not one who was in pursuit of pretentious honours or medals, yet it is our duty/obligation as free citizens of India today to express towards him atleast as much respect as he deserves. Netaji was a man who had the grit and determination to take on the British colonialists head-on. His fearlessness was comparable to that of Bagha Jatin. He had qualified the Indian Civil Services exam with 4th rank at a time when it was very tough for Indians to even get through the cut-off. He left his job after some time to jump into the Indian freedom struggle and never looked back thereafter. It was Netaji who called Gandhi ‘Father of the Nation’. The INA slogan ‘Jai Hind’ is still the greeting used in the Indian Army today; he also picked the ‘Indian national anthem’. It was first played in Hamburg at a gathering. So there are still a few symbolic remains from his activities in India which people tend to forget.
Unfortunately, he left us as mysteriously as the anti-British activities he used to conduct in pre-independent India. His death is a mystery even today! No one knows how he died, the real cause of his death, or whether he died on 18 August 1945 in a Japanese plane crash at all. There have been 4 commissions set up since 1946 till 2005 to enquire into the causes of his death, his whereabouts but none of them delivered a definite statement. Instead, all the reports have delivered conflicting results. Some of the reports are unnecessarily long and repetitive. It has been reported that except the government of Taiwan, no other country has given adequate support to the commissions’ investigations. These include Britain, Japan, Russia and India. India and Britain did not disclose some classified documents to the commission on the pretext of being sensitive and detrimental to India’s friendly relations with some countries. One commission has concluded that the cause of Netaji’s death was not the said plane crash, it is highly skeptical that the said crash did occur at all, the details of the crash are vague and Netaji was even seen in Soviet Union one year after the crash. While the classified documents of the Indian Government may indeed be sensitive, it should not stop us from expressing our deep regard for Netaji.
Many myths and legends were originated in India and abroad in the aftermath of Netaji’s death, like a sanyasi (renunciant) Bhagwanji of Faizabad who died in 1986. He greatly resembled Netaji and belongings of Netaji were found in his home after his death. Another was of an organization, the “Subhasbadi Janata,” which promoted the story that Bose was now the chief sadhu (renunciant) of an ashram (or hermitage) in Shaulmari (also Shoulmari) in North Bengal. The sadhu of Shaulmari, who continued to deny he was Bose, died in 1977. There were many more diverse myths in the wake of Netaji’s disappearance. He has been claimed to be seen in Soviet Union and China too at various times.
However, whatever be the event, whether he died or he disappeared; we need to recognize and honour his feats more actively. The Indian public was marvelled by his activities each and every time during the freedom struggle. His speeches were so powerful, thought provoking and emotion-inducing that the blood of India’s young men used to boil instantaneously upon hearing him speak and they used to get ready to sacrifice their all. He used to appear mysteriously in any part of the world and declare war on the British empire. When Bose appeared in Southeast Asia in July 1943, brought mysteriously on German and Japanese submarines, he was already a figure of mythical size and reach. The British feared him, Germans and Japanese admired him and the Indian people were inspired by him. The British were baffled when he formed the Indian National Army and attacked from the north-east. The Japanese regarded him as an “Indian samurai”. Though Gandhiji and Netaji came at loggerheads on some occasions, Gandhiji disclosed to his confidants his great admiration for Bose.
In the struggle for India’s freedom Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose stands as tall as Gandhiji or Nehruji or Sardar Patel or Bhagat Singh or Lala Lajpat Rai. But it is surprising for me that he is not revered or even mentioned as often as these other great sons of the Indian soil are. So, to compensate for that I pay my utmost respects to Netaji today. I salute the great man who gave his all for the Indian cause and asked for nothing in return. He was a true statesman of a colossal stature. He was truly an “Indian samurai” as the Japanese called him. He was a messiah to the demotivated public in times of suppression. God only knows what India would have achieved if he had joined Nehruji and Sardar Patel in shaping up of the modern Indian state after the independence. Men like him never die, they continue to live in a billion hearts forever. Wherever you are Netaji, I just want to thank you for your indomitable bravery and selfless service done decades ago so that we Indians could prosper and sleep peacefully today. May God grant you ultimate peace. RIP.
“We should have but one desire today, the desire to die so that India may live.”
– Netaji S.C.Bose