Samskriti…

Posts Tagged ‘independence

’‘..It is our duty to pay for our liberty with our own blood. The freedom that we shall win through our sacrifice and exertions, we shall be able to preserve with our own strength…. Freedom is not given, it is taken.. One individual may die for an idea; but that idea will, after his death, incarnate itself in a thousand lives. That is how the wheel of evolution moves on and the ideas and dreams of one nation are bequeathed to the next……’ Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’

Modern historians in India are taking a second look at the way the country’s freedom was achieved, and in that process are demolishing a number of theories, assumptions and myths preached by the “court historians.”

However, in order to grasp the magnitude of the issue, with its many ramifications, it is essential to understand first the concept of freedom as envisaged by Netaji — the ideal which motivated him to wrest it from the hands of the British by the force of arms.

In his entire political career, Subhas Chandra Bose was guided by two cardinal principles in his quest for his country’s emancipation: that there could be no compromise with alien colonialists on the issue, and that on no account would the country be partitioned. The Indian geographical unity was to be maintained at all costs.

As we have already seen, the unfortunate turn of events during World War II prevented Netaji’s dream of his victorious march to Delhi at the head of his Indian National Army from becoming a reality.

In his and his army’s absence in a post-war India, politicians under the leadership of Gandhi and Nehru did exactly what Netaji never wanted: they negotiated and compromised with the British on the issue of freedom, and in their haste to get into power, agreed to a formula of partitioning India presented to them by the British.

The transfer of power was followed by two more developments that were alien to Netaji’s philosophy and his blueprint for a free India: introduction of a parliamentary democratic system by Nehru and his decision to keep India in the British Commonwealth of Nations.

It was a truncated freedom, achieved over the bloodbath of millions who had perished in fratricidal religious rioting during the process of partition, as the erstwhile India emerged on the world map as the two nations of India and Pakistan.

Even so, the fragmented freedom that fell as India’s share after the British had skilfully played their age-old game of divide and rule came not as a result of Gandhi’s civil disobedience and non-violent movement as the court historians would have us believe; nor was it due to persistent negotiations by Nehru and other Indian National Congress leaders on the conference table, which the British found so easy to keep stalling. The British finally quit when they began to feel the foundations of loyalty being shaken among the British Indian soldiers-the mainstay of the colonial power-as a result of the INA exploits that became known to the world after the cessation of hostilities in East Asia.

Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, the eminent Indian historian who passed away recently, and who by virtue of his challenges to several historical myths can rightly be called the Dean of new historians in India, observed in his book Three Phases of India’s Struggle for Freedom:

There is, however, no basis for the claim that the Civil Disobedience Movement directly led to independence. The campaigns of Gandhi … came to an ignoble end about fourteen years before India achieved independence … During the First World War the Indian revolutionaries sought to take advantage of German help in the shape of war materials to free the country by armed revolt. But the attempt did not succeed. During the Second World War Subhas Bose followed the same method and created the INA. In spite of brilliant planning and initial success, the violent campaigns of Subhas Bose failed … The Battles for India’s freedom were also being fought against Britain, though indirectly, by Hitler in Europe and Japan in Asia. None of these scored direct success, but few would deny that it was the cumulative effect of all the three that brought freedom to India…

…In particular, the revelations made by the INA trial, and the reaction it produced in India, made it quite plain to the British, already exhausted by the war, that they could no longer depend upon the loyalty of the seapoys for maintaining their authority in India. This had probably the greatest influence upon their final decision to quit India.[44]

Despite Japan’s defeat and the consequent withering away of the Indian National Army on the India-Burma front, both Subhas Chandra Bose and his INA became household names throughout the country as the returning soldiers were sought to be prosecuted by the British. By then, the Congress leadership under Gandhi and Nehru had pre-empted itself, and the year 1945 seemed relatively calm and uneventful. However, Netaji and his legend worked up a movement all over the country which even a Gandhi could never produce. Echoing this mass upsurge Michael Edwardes wrote in his Last Years of British India:

The Government of India had hoped, by prosecuting members of the INA, to reinforce the morale of the Indian army. It succeeded only in creating unease, in making the soldiers feel slightly ashamed that they themselves had supported the British. If Bose and his men had been on the right side-and all India now confirmed that they were-then Indians in the Indian army must have been on the wrong side. It slowly dawned upon the Government of India that the backbone of the British rule, the Indian army, might now no longer be trustworthy. The ghost of Subhas Bose, like Hamlet’s father, walked the battlements of the Red Fort (where the INA soldiers were being tried), and his suddenly amplified figure overawed the conference that was to lead to independence.

Apart from revisionist historians, it was none other than Lord Clement Atlee himself, the British Prime Minster responsible for conceding independence to India, who gave a shattering blow to the myth sought to be perpetuated by court historians, that Gandhi and his movement had led the country to freedom. Chief justice P.B. Chakrabarty of Calcutta High Court, who had also served as the acting Governor of West Bengal in India, disclosed the following in a letter addressed to the publisher of Dr. R.C. Majumdar’s book A History of Bengal. The Chief Justice wrote:

You have fulfilled a noble task by persuading Dr. Majumdar to write this history of Bengal and publishing it … In the preface of the book Dr. Majumdar has written that he could not accept the thesis that Indian independence was brought about solely, or predominantly by the non-violent civil disobedience movement of Gandhi. When I was the acting Governor, Lord Atlee, who had given us independence by withdrawing the British rule from India, spent two days in the Governor’s palace at Calcutta during his tour of India. At that time I had a prolonged discussion with him regarding the real factors that had led the British to quit India. My direct question to him was that since Gandhi’s “Quit India” movement had tapered off quite some time ago and in 1947 no such new compelling situation had arisen that would necessitate a hasty British departure, why did they have to leave? In his reply Atlee cited several reasons, the principal among them being the erosion of loyalty to the British Crown among the Indian army and navy personnel as a result of the military activities of Netaji. Toward the end of our discussion I asked Atlee what was the extent of Gandhi’s influence upon the British decision to quit India. Hearing this question, Atlee’s lips became twisted in a sarcastic smile as he slowly chewed out the word, “m-i-n-i-m-a-l!”

When the new version of the history of the Twentieth Century India, and especially the episode of the country’s unique struggle for independence comes to be written, it will no doubt single out but one person who made the most significant and outstanding contribution among all his compatriots toward the emancipation of his motherland from the shackles of an alien bondage. During World War II this man strode across two continents like a colossus, and the footsteps of his army of liberation reverberated through the forests and plains of Europe and the jungles and mountains of Asia. His armed assaults shook the very foundations of the British Empire. His name was Subhas Chandra Bose.

This article is from a site named Tamilnation.org. But this site is currently unavailable bcoz of its support for LTTE. Prabhakaran, late LTTE chief was an admirer of Netaji. But I found this article of high quality as it had a good bibliography and was written on an essay style

I thank Rajendran for this article at the Indian History community in orkut.