Netaji: Enemy of empire | Culture | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
More in this Section
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy

Netaji: Enemy of empire


LIGHTING UP: Netaji in Tokyo in 1943

If we leave aside Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's busts and statues are probably the most popular in Indian cities and towns. Netaji has a habit of popping up in the unlikeliest of places, his military regalia sitting somewhat uneasily alongside his very Bengali features and round, scholarly glasses. But more than any other Indian nationalist leader, Netaji's life is shrouded in myths and half-truths. Sugata Bose's biography of Netaji, drawing on a wide range of materials, clears many of the misconceptions about the man and sheds light on little known aspects of his life. (Bose is a grandnephew of Netaji, though he says right at the beginning that this didn't colour his interpretation, and just like countless other Indians he thought of Netaji as a historical public figure and not as a relative. )

For instance, one of the incidents from Netaji's student days that has passed into folklore was him slapping E F Oaten, a history professor in Presidency College. But as Sugata Bose points out it is unclear whether Netaji actually assaulted the professor. He only admitted to being an eyewitness to the incident, preferring not to elaborate any further.

Sugata Bose gives a detailed account of Netaji's involvement, while in exile in Europe in the 1930s, with a German woman, Emilie Schenkl, whom he later secretly married and with whom he also had a daughter. This was for a long time denied by many of Netaji's followers who refused to believe that their beloved leader could be passionate about anything other than his country's freedom.

No other leader of India's freedom struggle could possibly match Netaji's highly unusual and colourful life. Elected president of the Indian National Congress in 1938, his re-election the next year did not go down well with Gandhi. Outmaneuvered by Gandhi, Netaji eventually resigned as Congress president and was subsequently imprisoned for the umpteenth time by the British. His escape from house arrest in his nephew's Wanderer car and his journey to Europe via Afghanistan is the stuff of legend. So also was his trip from Germany to Japan during the height of World War II, much of it in a German U-boat.

Netaji's legacy has been inexorably tainted by his alliance with the Axis powers during World War II. Sugata Bose, however, writes, "That he (Netaji) had no affinity with the pernicious philosophies of the Axis powers whose help he sought during World War II is beyond a shadow of doubt. He stood up to them courageously to maintain India's honor, but regrettably not for the victims of their brutality. " Indeed after his only meeting with Hitler in 1942, Bose described the Fuhrer as "baddha pagal" (" raving mad" ). The last phase of Netaji's life was devoted to setting up of the Indian National Army (INA) composed of Indian prisoners of war in Southeast Asia and his aim - which now seems improbable - to march into Assam and Bengal in 1944. The campaign turned out to be a debacle, but the bravery of the INA and the Red Fort trial of the INA trio - Sahgal, Shah Nawaz and Dhillon - in 1945-46 made an indelible impact on Indians.

As with many aspects of his life, Netaji's death too has been the subject of considerable debate. Netaji was last seen taking off from Taipei on August 18, 1945. Sugata Bose is certain that Netaji died the same day when his plane crashed. However, till date three commissions in independent India have enquired into Netaji's death with the last one, a one-man commission consisting of a retired Bengali judge, concluding in 2006 that the crash did not occur at all.

It is a testimony to Netaji's popularity that many of his admirers refused to believe that he died in 1945, and periodic sightings of Bose and conspiracy theories continued to flourish long after.

Reader's opinion (5)

Kaushik.guha85 Jul 16th, 2011 at 17:24 PM

A true Hero in real sense to rise above petty politics. His efforts stands tall and lonely even today beside the big(?)

Gurdeep Singh BarianaJun 30th, 2011 at 19:40 PM

The conspirators took advantage of Subash Chander Bose un -compromising discipline and patriotism, to keep him away from the main stream of National Politics, for their selfish thinkings.
Many ill we are facing would not had been there, which history will reveal some day.

Career_pankaj_delhi Jun 30th, 2011 at 16:58 PM

He remains my HERO....

Rajiv DhimoleJun 30th, 2011 at 09:06 AM

I person I admire the Most for all his efforts for the nation

Gururaja Rao RaoJun 30th, 2011 at 03:33 AM

History of independent India would have been different if Subhash were alive to see it.

Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik |


itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service