The Union Ministry of Culture on 18th January announced that 23rd January, the birth anniversary of Subash Chandra Bose will be celebrated as “Parakram Divas” – a day of courage every year from this year onwards in a befitting manner at the national and international level. The government of India has decided to celebrate the birth anniversary of Subash Chandra Bose as “Parakram Divas” to inspire the people of the country and to remember the man who stood up for the progress and well-being of his fellow Indians. This article is a tribute to the courage and inspiration that millions of Indian, both in India and abroad, has derived from the life and times of Subash Chandra Bose.

Subash Chandra Bose was born in an affluent family in Cuttack – in what is today the state of Odisha but a division of Bengal province in British Raj. The early beneficiary of the Anglocentric education, he was sent to England to take the prestigious Indian Civil Services examination. Though he succeeded with the distinction in the first vital round securing rank 4th, seeing the state of people in his motherland he refused to take the final examination citing nationalism to be the higher calling. He returned to India in July 1921 and immediately set arranging the meet with Mahatma Gandhi, the then leader of the non-corporation movement which took India by storm the previous year.

During the mid-1930s Bose travelled widely in Europe, visiting the Indian students and European politicians. In his period, he also researched and wrote the first part of his book “The Indian struggle” which covered India’s independence movement from 1920 to 1934. Although the book was published in 1935 in London, the British government banned the book in the colony out of the fear that it would encourage unrest.[1]           

Association With Congress

He joined the Indian National Congress in 1921 and sided to a group of congress with Jawaharlal Nehru. This group within the congress was less open to the constitutional reforms and more open to the ideas of socialism as the Britishers used constitutional reforms as a dole to delay the “Purna Swaraj” thus denying the welfare of the Indians. From the beginning, he proved his leadership skills and within the next four-five months, he became a prominent figure not only in Bengal but throughout the country. [2] Later he started the newspaper Swaraj under his political mentor Chittaranjan Das and took charge of publicity for the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee. [3]

During the time of his association with the INC, he stood for unqualified Swaraj (self-governance) and opposed the Motilal Nehru’s report which spoke for dominion status for India as he believed in the goal of ‘Purna Swaraj’. He actively participated in the salt satyagraha of 1930 and vehemently opposed the suspension of the Civil Disobedience Movement against the British Raj and also the signing of the Gandhi – Irwin pact.

During the 1930s his close association and popularity with all the political wings within the INC resulted in hi, winning two subsequent presidential elections, one in 1938 at Haripura and another in 1939 at Tripura, the latter was held against Pattabhi Sitaramayya who was supported by Gandhi ji.

At that particular time in history, when Britain had dragged India into the World War II for their own benefits but on the other hand denied Indian’s right to attain complete freedom, Bose was courageous enough to go beyond all ideological differences with his counterparts to achieve the goal of Independence for India at the earliest. This could be understood by the fact that he wanted to initiate a political activity in India to assert India’s freedom and take advantage of Britain's instability. He was of the opinion that ‘Freedom is not given – it is taken. No real change in history has been achieved by discussions.’ He believed in the violent overthrow of the British Raj rather than protesting and practising.

Winning the congress presidential elections twice showed the popularity of Bose within the Indian National Congress and belief in his ideals.

Due to the ideological differences with the Gandhi, Bose resigned and left congress. At that particular time in the history, Gandhiji quoted “After all Subash Babu is not the enemy of our country. He has suffered for it. His is the most forward and boldest policy and program, the minority can only wish him the best.”

He founded a new party, ‘the Forward Bloc’. The purpose was to consolidate the political left and major support base in his home state Bengal.

Indian National Army

After leaving the congress and he founded a new party, ‘the Forward Bloc’. The purpose was to consolidate the political left and major support base in his home state Bengal.

In 1940, Bose was under house arrest in Calcutta. In the Midnight of 16th and 17th January, he fled from his house, first went to Kabul, then to Russia then finally to Berlin in March, to seek Hitler’s and Mussolini's help for raising an army to fight the imperialist British.

In Germany, he set up free Indian radio and three thousand strong free Indian legion or Mukti Sena comprising of prisoners of war. Bose was called Neta Ji for the first time by the soldiers of Mukti Sena. 

He reached Japanese-controlled Singapore from Germany in July 1943, issued from there his famous call, ‘Delhi Chalo’, and announced the formation of the Azad Hind Government, a provincial free Indian government in exile and the Indian National Army on 21st October 1943. The INA was first formed under Mohan Singh and Japanese Major Iwaichi Fujiwara and compromised Indian prisoners of war of the British – Indian Army captured by Japan in the Malayan (present-day Malaysia) campaign and at Singapore. The INA included both, the Indian prisoners of war from Singapore and Indian civilians in South-East Asia. Its strength grew to 50,000. The INA fought allied forces in 1944 inside the borders of India in Imphal and in Burma. He gave a famous slogan “Tum Muzhe Khoon do, Mai Tumhe Azadi Dunga”. In November 1945, a British move to put the INA men on trial immediately sparked massive demonstration all over the country.

Netaji – ‘The prince among the patriots’ got arrested many times for activities against imperialist British government but stood up for his principle and beliefs and laid down his life fighting for the Indian freedom struggle. With the mysterious death of Subash Chandra Bose in a plane crash on 18 Aug 1945, India lost its one of the legendary nationalist leaders in the golden pages of Indian freedom struggle. The BJP government at the centre has taken a very good step, celebrating 23 Jan as “Parakram Divas” remembering Netaji which in turn will inspire many Indians and upcoming generations.


Views expressed by the author are personal.


[1]Bose, Sisir; Bose, Sugata (1997), "The India Struggle"Hindustan Times, archived from the original on 10 April 2012, retrieved 6 February 2016


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