Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose A Misguided Patriot!

Ever since it emerged that government of India under Pandit Nehru had spied on family members of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Bose,  comparisons have been made between two stalwarts of Indian freedom movement.  Recently, a Prof. of History at Delhi’s Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Prof. Mridula Banerjee had wrote “Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose a misguided patriot!” (India Today, April, 20, 2015). This was followed by another article in the Times of India (In another article appeared in Times of India (April, 20, 2015) where Manimugdha Sharma ( wrote that when comparing Netaji with Pandit Nehru we cannot conveniently ignore Netaji seeking help of evil Germany and Imperialist Japan to form INA. There could be two major reasons to arrive at such a view.

I think we need to consider and discuss Netaji’s action in the light of world view prevailing at the time of Netaji’s political career : 

  • World at the time of Netaji’s active political career (1920 – 40) was divided between people who were colonisers and natives who lived in colonies. Britain had conquered most of the world that covered Asia, and Africa. Many in the Europe – France, Italy, Dutch, Spain, Portugal, Germany etc, had their colonies in Africa or South America or even in parts of India. In the United States of America explorers had mercilessly killed native Americans and relegated them to reserves. United States had a recorded history of importing African blacks to work as slaves in cotton firms of down south in America. At the time of Netaji, United States of America did not allow blacks voting right. In Canada, Australia and New Zealand, white explorers had killed native people and put them in reserves. So much about freedom, justice, equality and liberty!

  •  Nazism and Fascism were relevant to free Europe and not to colonies. Nazism and Fascism emerged in post world war I in Europe. When Germany and Italy started following certain style of political philosophy. Life of a native in a colony was very different from that of a free European.   Did British really cared about Indians and their well being? Did British even thought Indians to be humans? Remember, they referred to Mahatma Gandhi as half naked lunatic fakir. If  we apply modern standards of human rights, Nazism and Fascism, then many former rulers of colonies should be hunted down and put on trial. 

  • In this backdrop, what were Netaji’s option to liberate India from British subjugation? Given the might and reach of British empire, who could Netaji turn to, if not enemies of British empire – Germany and Japan? Netaji was not worried about the cost and implication of taking support from Nazi Germany, or Facist Italy, or Imperialist Japan. “In a battle field, enemy’s enemy is my best friend”,  Netaji believed. Netaji considered independence of India was his goal, and  he would do whatever it takes. Netaji was clear that he was taking help of Japan only for liberation of India. If Japan decided to stay back, India would fight Japan also.

  • Every nation does what is important for its national importance. Britain and US despised communism. Yet when it came to defeating Germany, they worked with communist USSR. Post world war II, Germany and Japan became allies of US, whereas USSR became enemy number one. Following this principle, what is wrong if Netaji had taken support of Germany and Japan? By the way, under Joseph Stalin close to a million people were sent to Gulag and may be killed.  Yet successive congress governments had leaned towards USSR in our post independence era. Nothing wrong. Everything was done in greater national interest. Why then impute motives to Netaji’s action. He did it in supreme national interest.

To me, Netaji had a clarity of vision, fixity of purpose and a determined action plan to execute his vision.  Given the power of British empire, given the attitude of of British towards India’s freedom, what other options did Subhash Chandra Bose have? A person who had sacrificed everything, put his life at stake, challenged mighty Britain, all for  independence of India, it is certainly appropriate to call him misguided! What an irony, indeed!. Someone had better prepared a manual detailing guiding principle for Indian freedom fighters.

Tags: British Empire, Fascist Italy, Great Britain, Imperialist Japan, Manimugdha Sharma, Mridula Banerjee, Nazi Germany, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, United States of America

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