Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Disagreeing with Gandhi

Where the Mahatma was ever for turning the other cheek, this man is reported to have said, "If someone slaps you on one cheek, you should slap both of his". With Gandhiji being unchallenged as the strategist for the Indian National Congress (INC), Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's tenure as the President of that organization was marked by several disagreements between him and Gandhiji. Their differences were so marked that Gandhiji actively campaigned against Bose's election for a second term; however, there were quite a few in the INC who felt invigorated by Bose's call for violent resistance to the British rule, which ensured his re-election.

It was a master-stroke of Gandhiji's that forced Bose to resign, not only as President, but from membership of the INC itself. Forming his own party, the All India Forward Bloc, Bose pushed forward his own vision of an independent India. As World War II loomed, Netaji, who had already served about a dozen prison sentences, was put under house arrest; the British rightly thought that he would try to take advantage of the political instability in Britain to mount a violent campaign for Indian independence. But the Netaji escaped and siding with the Axis powers, began to harass the British. Rallying the Indian National Army with his cry, "Give me blood, and I promise you freedom", he marched up through Burma to the North-East of India before the surrender of the Japanese cut off his supply lines. His final flight, from Rangoon to Tokyo, reportedly disappeared over Taipei: sixty-three years and at least 3 Commissions of Inquiry appointed by the Government of India have not left us any wiser as to how and where the Netaji died. While his choice of friends is questionable, there is no denying Netaji's commitment to democratic ideals, or his patriotism. So much so that a cry he popularised - "Jai Hind" ("Victory to India") - is commonly used even today.

Madras had had little role to play in Netaji's life; but his name lives on in a road on which the Madras High Court, as well as several major commercial establishments (including Dare House) stand. And of course, there are several southerners in the 40 - 60 age group who answer to the typically Bengali surname of 'Bose'!


Jane Hards Photography said...

That was such an interesting post. How much we learn form other people's blogs.

Kris McCracken said...

Quite a character, Bose. He is an oft-overlooked figure in history by westerners, much to their loss in understanding the complexities and nuances on India. Thanks for the post!

Shantaram said...

>> Babooshka>> Very true... and I've been learning quite a bit since I started to write this blog, too!

>> Kris>> Not just them... far too few Indians know much about the Netaji... there is still so much of mystery around him!

prabhu ramakrishnan said...

interesting post but it became a trend among Indian youngsters to critique bapu.
and the aimsa which he followed. n

Shantaram said...

>> Prabhu>> True; no better way to grab attention than to be a contrarian!