The Essential Writings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

Item Code: NAH511
Author: Sisir K. Bose and Sugata Bose
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9780195648546
Pages: 347
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 330 gm
Fully insured
Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
23 years in business
23 years in business
Book Description

About the Book

The popular perception of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is that of a warrior-hero and revolutionary leader who waged a great armed struggle for the freedom of India. What is often forgotten is that warrior paused between battles to reflect on and write about the fundamental political, economic, and social issues. The writing selected for this volume give an insight into his careful analyses of specific historical situation.

This volume is indispensable for student and scholars of modern Indian history, politics, and international relations.


About the Author

Sisir K. Bose was the Founder-Director of Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata.

Sugata Bose is Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Department of History, Harvard University.


Editors' Introduction

'India,' Subhas Chandra Bose wrote to his mother in 1912, when he was only fifteen years old, 'is God's beloved land. He has been born in this great land in every age in the form of the Saviour for the enlightenment of the people, to rid this earth of sin and to establish righteousness and truth in every Indian heart. He has come into being in many countries in human form but not so many times in any other country-that Is why I say, India, our motherland, is God's beloved land." Near the end of a life devoted to the service of the motherland Netaji wrote in his last message to Indians on 15 August 1945: ' … never for a moment falter in your faith in India's destiny. There is no power on earth that can keep India enslaved. India shall be free and before long. '

The popular perception of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is that of a warrior-hero and revolutionary leader who led a life of suffering and sacrifice, and, druing the Second World War, waged a great armed struggle for the freedom of India. What is often forgotten is that the warrior paused between battles to reflect on and write about the fundamental -political, economic and social issues facing India and the world during his lifetime. Despite being immersed in the tumult of the anti-colonial struggle, Subhas Chandra Bose delved back in his writings into India's long and complex history and looked forward to the socio-economic re- construction of India once political independence was won. The ideas he put forward were not of either a wandering mystic oblivious of the earth or a doctrinaire revolutionist reared on imported copybook maxims. They were the products of a philosophical mind applied to careful analyses of specific historical situations and informed by direct and continuous revolutionary experience in different parts of the world of a kind unknown to any other leader of contemporary India. Distilled out of a twelve-volume set of his Collected Works, his Essential Writings is de- signed to provide a single-volume introduction to the thought of India's foremost militant nationalist.

Subhas's 'discovery of India', unlike Jawaharlal Nehru's, occurred very early in his life when he was barely in his teens. Born on 23 January 1897, he was deeply influenced by the cultural and intellectual milieu of Bengal at the turn of the century and grew up in harmony with the evolution of India's anti-colonial movement. In the course of his school and college career he was in turn a pure humanitarian, a paribrajaka and social reformer in the manner and spirit of Vivekananda, and eventually a political activist. As the letters to his mother in 1912-13 reveal, his love for the country was at this stage tinged with a religious sensibility and expressed as devotion to the Mother. Yet he was dismayed at the current state of both the country and of religion: '[njow, wherever religion is practised there is so much bigotry and sin.' He asked his own mother, 'Will the condition of our country continue to go from bad to worse-will not any son of Mother India in distress, in total disregard of his selfish interests, dedicate his whole life to the cause of the Mother?"

By the time Subhas graduated from Calcutta University in 1919, set out to study philosophy in Cambridge, and qualify for the Indian Civil Service, he already had a formed personality and his sense of mission was not in doubt. That mission admitted of no compromise. The letters to his elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose during 1921, which he quoted extensively in his unfinished autobiography of 1937, reveal what went through his mind as he moved towards the decision to resign from the ICS. He chose to 'chuck this rotten service' and not to wear 'the emblem of servitude' as 'national and spiritual aspirations' were 'not compatible with obedience to Civil Service conditions'. He was inspired at that time by the ideal of sacrifice set by Aurobindo Ghosh. 'Only on the soil of sacrifice and suffering,' he was convinced, 'can we raise our national edifice. '

Subhas's acceptance of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das as his political guru during the non-co-operation movement was a surrender to a man who was similarly dedicated to the cause of India's deliverance. But the aprenticeship was short as the mentor passed away before his time in 1925 and Subhas, then a prisoner in Mandalay, felt 'desolate with a sense of bereavement'. The exile in Burmese prisons from 1924 to 1927 witnessed the transformation of a lieutenant to a leader. In his numerous prison letters to Sarat Chandra Bose, Bivabati Bose, Dilip Kumar Roy and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay among others, he commented on a wide range of topics-art, music, literature, nature, education, folk culture, civic affairs, criminology, spirituality and, of course, politics. He bore the rigours of prison life with a combination of stoicism and sense of humour. 'If I had not been here,' he wrote, 'I would never realize the depth of my love for golden Bengal. I sometimes feel as if Tagore expressed the emotions of a prisoner when he wrote: "Sonar Bangia, ami tomae bhalobashi!" 'Yet forced inactivity through incarceration also strengthened his belief that for most people 'action in a spirit of service' ought to be 'the main plank of their sadhana'. He had reverence for Sri Aurobindo who had become' a dbyani, but he also warned of the dangers of the active side of a man getting atrophied through prolonged seclusion. 'For a variety of reasons,' he observed, 'our nation has been sliding pauselessly down to the zero line in the sphere of action; so what we badly need today is a double dose of the activist serum, rajas.

Subhas's lengthy prison essay on Deshbandhu written in February 1926 contains insights into the fundamentals of his own political beliefs. 'I do not think that among the Hindu leaders of India,' he wrote, 'Islam had a greater friend than in the Deshbandhu … Hinduism was extremely dear to his heart; he could even lay down his life for his religion, but at the same time he was absolutely free from dogmatism of any kind. That explains how it was possible for him to love Islam.' It was this spirit of broad-minded generosity in the matter of India's religious diversity that Subhas sought to emulate in his politics, a quality he found to be sorely lacking in most of the other nationalist leaders. 'That Swaraj in India meant primarily the uplift of the masses, and not necessarily the protection of the interest of the upper classes,' he emphasized, 'was a matter of conviction with the Deshbandhu.' This too was an ideal not shared by many of the other front-rank leaders, but to which Subhas Chandra Bose was deeply committed. To the large question whether 'culture' was one or diverse, his answer was that it was 'both one and many'. Desh- bandhu, he pointed out, 'loved Bengal with all his life', but that did not make him forget about India as a whole. 'The fulfilment of the Desh- bandhu's nationalism,' Subhas wrote with obvious admiration, 'was in international amity; but he did not try to develop a love of the world by doing away with love for his own land. Yet his nationalism did not lead him to exclusive ego-centricity." Deshbandhu's unfuifillled dreams and hopes were in Subhas's view his 'best legacy'.'

In the late 1920s and early 1930s Subhas Chandra Bose emerged, along with Jawaharlal Nehru, as the leader of the left-leaning younger generation of anti-colonial nationalists. Between further spells in prison he toured the country, addressing innumerable students, youth and labour conferences. 'Democracy,' he told the Maharashtra Provincial Conference in May 1928, 'is by no means a Western institution; it is a human institution.' He also put forward a reasoned defence of nationalism against its critics. Refusing to believe that nationalism necessarily hindered the development of internationalism in the domain of culture, he espoused the variant of Indian nationalism that was not narrow, selfish or aggressive, but had instilled 'the spirit of service' and aroused 'creative faculties' in its people. He made a plea for 'a coalition between labour and nationalism', using the term labour 'in a wider sense to in- clude the peasants as well'. India, he believed, should become 'an in- dependent Federal Republic'. He warned Indian nationalists not to become 'a queer mixture of political democrats and social conservatives'.

He declared in unequivocal terms: .If we want to make India really great we must build up a political democracy on the pedestal of a democratic society. Privileges based on birch, caste or creed should go, and equal opportunities should be thrown open to all irrespective of caste, creed or religion. The status of women should also be raised and women should be trained to take larger and a more intelligent interest in public affairs.

While not being opposed to 'any patch-up work' needed for 'healing communal sores', he sought a 'deeper remedy' through 'cultural rapprochement'. He regretted that the different communities inhabiting India were 'too exclusive'. 'Fanaticism is the greatest thorn in the path of cultural intimacy,' he told his audience, 'and there is no better remedy for fanaticism than secular and scientific education.' This was probably the first occasion on which Bose used the term 'secular'. It should be noted that his secularism was not hostile to religiously informed cultural identities, but rather was adduced to foster 'cultural intimacy' among India's different communities. Calling for a total boycott of the Simon Commission, which was then visiting India, Bose outlined three cardinal principles for the framers of India's constitution: popular sovereignty, citizenship rights and a system of joint electorates."

Bose's appearance at the Calcutta Congress in December 1928 in resplendent military uniform was not so much a spectacle as a vision of the future. His sponsoring of the amendment demanding 'complete in- dependence' instead of' dominion status' at that session in opposition to Mahatma Gandhi was a sign that, as always, he was a step ahead of his contemporaries. He simply did not believe there was any 'reasonable chance' of the British granting 'dominion status' within twelve months, as was demanded in the main resolution. The resolution on 'complete independence' would help gain a 'new mentality', overcoming the 'slave mentality' that was at the root of India's political degradation. While meaning no disrespect to the elders, Bose opted to give priority to 'respect for principle'? His amendment was narrowly defeated.

During 1929 Subhas Chandra Bose preached the ideal of all-round freedom for the individual and the nation to enthusiastic audiences of students and youth. Speaking to the Hooghly District Students conference in July 1929, he argued that both individual and national fulfilment should be achieved through the innate diversity of human life and by striking a balance between 'the one' and 'the many'. He reminded the students that Deshbandhu had been a staunch believer in a 'federation of cultures' and 'in the realm of politics, he liked a federal state for India better than a centralized state'. He exhorted the young to call the disadvantaged and downtrodden social groups to their side:

In our country three large communities are lying absolutely dormant; these are the women, the so-called depressed classes and the labouring masses. Let us go to them and say: 'You also are human beings and shall obtain the fullest rights of men. So arise, awake, shed your attitude of inactivity and snatch your legitimate rights.'!"

Bose took his message of complete emancipation to students of the Punjab assembled in Lahore a couple of months before the Congress passed the landmark 'Puma Swaraj' resolution in the same city. He lauded the sacrifice of Jatin Das and the heroism of Bhagat Singh in the cause of freedom. He saw the students' movement as a school for 'the training of the future citizen' and felt that the Congress 'should depend, for its 1. strength, influence and power on such movements as the labour movement, youth movement, peasant movement, women's movement, students' movement etc.'. '[T]o be free or at least to die in the pursuit of freedom' was the motto he gave to the students. I

When the civil disobedience movement was launched in 1930, Subhas Chandra Bose was behind prison bars. He was elected Mayor of Calcutta while in jail. He briefly assumed this office on his release later in the year, but on 26 January 1931 he was brutally attacked by mounted police as he led an independence day procession and was thrown back into prison. There he received news of the Gandhi-Irwin truce of March 1931 with deep disappointment. The Karachi Congress of April 1931 met under the shadow of a great tragedy-the execution of Bhagat Singh and his comrades. At the same time as the Congress meeting, Bose was invited to preside over the second session in Karachi of the 'All India Naujawan Bharat Sabha, a militant youth organization which took inspiration from Bhagat Singh. Bose clearly felt more comfortable in such radical company than among the Congress stalwarts and enunciated his political philosophy in a forthright manner. He articulated the meanings of five principles-justice, equality, freedom, discipline and love-which ought to 'form the basis of our collective life'. Bolshevism, he felt, had 'many useful lessons for humanity' but he did 'not believe that abstract principles can be applied in the same manner, form or degree to different nations and countries' lie wanted the Indian variant to be 'a new form or type of socialism'. 'While seeking light and inspiration from abroad,' he told the radical youth, 'we cannot afford to forget that we should not blindly imitate any other people and that we should assimilate what we learn elsewhere with a view to finding out what will suit our national requirements as well as our national genius.'12 In his presidential address to the All India Trade Union Congress in July 1931 he addressed the specific problems of unemployment, retrenchment and wages in the context of the Depression. He also tried to carve out a middle ground between' a reformist programme' of the 'Right Wing' of the Congress and 'Communist friends' who were 'adherents and followers of Moscow'. He reiterated. His belief in 'full-blooded socialism' but wanted India to 'evolve her own form of socialism as well as her own methods'.

Bose spent the entire year 1932 in various jails in Seoni, Jubbulpore, Madras, Bhowali and Lucknow. His health deteriorated rapidly during detention. Eventually in February 1933 he was released after being put on a ship setting sail from Bombay for Europe, where he sought medical treatment. A greater part of his years of enforced exile in Europe from March 1933 to March 1936 were spent as an unofficial ambassador of India's freedom. This was the period which saw the transformation of a leader into a statesman. Despite being in poor health: Bose travelled tirelessly across the continent. He met European political and intellectual leaders and organized and addressed bilateral friendship associations in various countries as well as Indian student organizations in different cities. He visited Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France, Ger- many, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Rumania, Switzerland, Turkey and Yugoslavia. The British authorities led him to believe that he was barred from, visiting Britain. So his presidential address at the Third Indian Political Conference in London in June 1933 had to be read out in absentia. The speech-often referred to as 'the London thesis'-pro- vided the most detailed exposition of his political philosophy prior to his address as Congress President in 1938. It contained an appreciation and critique of Gandhian satyagraha and an enunciation of the ideal of samyavada. Attracted by European political experiments in socialism, Bose nevertheless preferred to use the old, Buddhist, Indian term to articulate his ideology of as socialism, one that invoked equality in an atmosphere of balance and harmony. He expressed a messianic faith in the mission that India would fulfil in world history:

We all know that in the seventeenth century England made a remarkable contribution to world-civilisation through her ideas of constitutional and democratic government. Similarly, in the eighteenth century, France made the most wonderful contribution to the culture of the world through her ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity.' During the nineteenth century Germany made the most remark- able gift through her Marxian Philosophy. During the twentieth century Russia has enriched the culture and civilisation of the world through her achievement in proletarian revolution, proletarian government and proletarian culture. The next remarkable contribution to the culture and civilisation of the world India will be called upon to make. 14

Bose's major study of the Indian independence movement-The Indian Struggle, 1920-3415-was published in early 1935. Towards the end of his political narrative Bose added a chapter in which he tried to assess the phenomenon in Indian politics called Mahatma Gandhi. Bose had fulsome praise for the Mahatma's 'single-hearted devotion, his relentless will and his indefatigable labour'. But he was critical of Gandhi's inability to comprehend the character of his opponents or to make use of international diplomacy in his efforts to win Swaraj. In the ultimate analysis Mahatma Gandhi had failed, in his view, because 'the false unity of interests that are inherently opposed is not a source of strength but a source of weakness in political warfare'."

Throughout his European sojourn Bose was a keen student of inter- national politics. While he was somewhat impressed by the organizational prowess of fascist (and communist) parties, he developed what Kitty Kurti has described as 'deep contempt' for the Nazis in Germany. He made repeated public protests against racism in Germany, especially anti-Indian racism, and supported a call for a boycott of trade with Germany after an especially provocative speech by Hitler. 'Against Ger- many,' he wrote to Amiya Chakravarti, 'we [Indians] have many com- plaints … Against Italy there are complaints from other standpoints-not from the standpoint of India's interest or prestige. But against Germany, we have many accusations from India's standpoint.' On the eve of his departure from Europe in March 1936 he denounced the 'new nationalism' in Germany in a letter to Dr Thierfelder as not only 'narrow and selfish, but arrogant'. But he pointed out to Amiya Chakravarti there was 'no early possibility of the fall of Hitler's Govt.'. 'If war breaks out some day and the war weakens Germany,' he wrote, 'then such a fall is possible, otherwise not."?

A high point of Bose's years of European exile was his visit to Ireland in February 1936 during which he held three meetings with Eamonn De Valera. He found all the Irish parties to be 'equally sympathetic towards India and her desire for freedom'. He had always been a close student of Irish anti-colonialism and regretted that more Indians who spent years in England did not take the trouble to go over to England's oldest colony. 'Ireland: he recorded in his impressions, 'is quite a different world from England.'.

The most difficult part of ending the days of European exile for Subhas Chandra Bose was not the prospect of imprisonment in India but the pain of separation from the woman he loved. He had met Emilie Schenkl, an Austrian woman, for the first time1in June 1934 and had developed a close relationship with her during die next two years. As he prepared to go home, he wrote her a letter which is the most frank confession of his feelings. 'Even the iceberg sometimes melts,' he began, 'and so it is with me now.' He had 'already sold' himself to his 'first love'-his country-to whom he had to return. As usual it was an adventure into the unknown:

I do not know what the future has in store for me. May be, I shall spend my life in prison, may be, I shall be shot or hanged. But whatever happens, I shall think of you and convey my gratitude co you in silence/ for your love for me. May be I shall never see you again- may be I shall not be able to write co you again when I am back-but believe me, you will always live in my heart, in my thoughts and in my dreams. If Fate should thus separate us in this life-I shall long for you in: my next life.

He had 'never thought before that a woman's love could ensnare [him]'. And he mused:

Is this love of any earthly use? We who belong co two different lands"'::'-have we anything in common? My country, my people, traditions, my habits and customs, my climate-in fact everything is so different from yours … For the moment, I have forgotten all these differences that separate our countries. I have loved the woman in you-the soul in yoU.

On his arrival in Bombay on 8 April 1936 Bose was immediately: arrested and sent to prison. He spent a year in detention and was per- mitted to return to active political life only after the provincial elections of April 1937 under the 1935 Government of India Act, of which he was a strong critic. He continued to take great interest in international affairs during 1937. In particular, he wrote two very substantial essays on developments in Europe and East Asia. His 'Europe: Today and Tomorrow' was an incisive, realist analysis of the shifting configuration of power in that continent. 'If war comes,' he wrote with great prescience in August 1937, 'it will come as a result of a German challenge to the status quo in Central and Eastern Europe. But will it come? The answer rests primarily with Britain. Germany will not repeat the errors of 1914 and will not go into a war, if she knows that Britain will be against her. She might be trapped into it as she was in 1914, thinking that Britain would keep out of it.' His final comment on the enigma of the 'Russian Colossus' also had an uncanny quality about it: 'It baffled Napoleon-the conqueror of Europe. Will it baffle Hitler?'

The substance of Bose's analysis of power relations in East Asia writ- ten in September 1937 was equally dispassionate, but towards the end of the essay he did not hesitate to declare his sympathy for China in the face of Japanese aggression. He concluded by drawing certain ethical implications for the future direction of Indian nationalism:

Let us learn the lessons of this Far Eastern Conflict. Standing at the threshold of a new era, let India resolve to aspire after national self-fulfillment in every direction-but not at the expense of other nations and not through the bloody path of self-aggrandizement and imperialism."

Mahatma Gandhi's choice of Subhas Chandra Bose as Congress President became known at the time of the meeting of the All India Congress Committee in Calcutta in October 1937. The following month on his own volition and with Gandhi's blessings he left on a trip to Europe. He spent nearly a month and a half from 22 November 1937 to 7 January 1938 at his favourite Austrian resort, Badgastain, where Emilie Schenkl joined him. There in the course of ten days in December 1937 he wrote ten chapters of his autobiography." Bose had intended to write three chapters on his fundamental beliefs: 'My Faith-Philosophical', 'My Faith-Political' and 'My Faith-Economic'. Of these he was able to complete only the first which formed the final chapter of his unfinished autobiography- 'Reality,' he concluded, c ••• is Spirit, the essence of which is Love, gradually unfolding itself in an eternal play of conflicting forces and their solutions.

'My personal view today,' Subhas Chandra Bose said in an interview to Rajani Palme Dutt in London in January 1938, 'is that the Indian National Congress should be organized on the broadest anti-imperialist front, and should have the two-fold objective of winning political freedom and the establishment of a socialist regime. ' After holding talks with De Valera and British political leaders he arrived back in India on 23 January 1938, his 41st birthday, and during his tenure as Congress President worked towards the two-fold objective he had set himself.

Written in a day at his Calcutta home on the eve of his departure for Haripura, his presidential address provided an incisive analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the worldwide structure of British imperialism and an egalitarian vision of the socio-economic reconstruction of free India. It was marked by a remarkable lack of rancour towards the colonial masters whom he challenged to transform the empire into 'a federation of free nations'. Once India had 'real self-determination', he saw no reason why there should not be 'the most cordial relations with the British people'.

While sounding a note of warning against accepting colonial constitutional devices designed to divide and deflect the anti-colonial movement, Bose could see that 'the policy of divide and rule' was 'by no means an unmixed blessing for the ruling power'. Bose saw the 'principle of partition' ingrained in the iuxtaposition of autocratic princes and democratically elected representatives of British India', and called for uncompromising opposition to the federal part of the Government of India Act of 1935. If that scheme got rejected, he feared that the British would ‘seek some other constitutional device for partitioning Indiaand thereby neutralising the transference of power to the Indian people'. But equally Bose could see Britain getting 'caught in the meshes of her own political dualism' resulting from divisive policies, whether in India, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq or Ireland. He, therefore, resolved to urgently address the minorities question in India, advocating a policy of' live and let live in matters religious and an understanding in matters economic and political'. He did not, interestingly enough, use the term 'secularism' in his broad-minded approach to the problem of religious difference. He also wanted justice done to the so-called 'depressed classes'. While promoting 'cultural autonomy for the different linguistic areas', Bose urged the acceptance of Hindustani (a mixture of Hindi and Urdu) in the Roman script as lingua franca. The objective of unifying India through 'a strong central government' would have to be balanced by the imperative 'to put all the minority communities as well as the provinces at their ease, by allowing them a large measure of autonomy in cultural as well as governmental affairs'.2G This vision was a stretch removed from the insistence on a monolithic nationalism by some of the other leaders of the Congress including Nehru and Patel who in their own ways increasingly displayed scant respect for cultural difference.

Convinced of the need to be prepared for independence, Bose also outlined his long-period programme for a Free India'. In order to eradicate poverty, he felt the free Indian state would have 'to adopt a com- prehensive scheme for gradually socialising our entire agricultural and industrial system in the spheres of both production and appropriation'. Bose believed in 1938 that the Congress party could not be asked to wither away but, on the contrary, had a key role to play in the work of national reconstruction after independence. The 'existence of multiple parties and the democratic basis of the Congress Party: he trusted, would 'prevent the future Indian state becoming a totalitarian one'. Inner-party democracy would also' ensure that leaders are not thrust upon the people from above, but elected from below'." Subsequent developments were soon to show that Bose's views regarding the Congress parry's commitment to internal democracy were overly optimistic. His opinions in favour of the Congress's granting collective affiliation to peasants' and workers' organizations, and being poised to take advantage of the inter- national situation, were not shared by several of his colleagues within the Congress.

During 1938 Subhas Chandra Bose sought to act on most of the items on his Haripura agenda. Perhaps his most important step was to announce the formation of the National Planning Committee in October 1938. Among the leading persons who responded with enthusiasm to the idea of rational and scientific planning for India was Rabindranath Tagore, who, unlike Gandhi, was much more intellectually open to the positive achievements of modern science and technology. Tagore could only see two 'modernists' among India's nationalist leadership Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose-and since the former had been made Chairman of the Planning Committee he wanted the latter to have a second term as Congress President. On the eve of his re-election in January 1939 the poet welcomed Subhas to his abode of peace-Santiniketan. In reply to Rabindranath's address, Subhas Chandra said:

Those of us who spend most of our time in the political life of the country feel very deeply about the poverty of the inner life. We want the inspiration of the treasure that enriches the mind without which no man or nation can rise to great heights. Because we know if we can get a taste of that inspiration and truth our Sadhana for the fulfilment and success of our working life and outer life can be achieved. We seek that inspiration from yoU.

On 29 January 1939 Subhas Chandra Bose defeated Mahatma Gandhi's nominee Pattabhi Sitaramayya to be re-elected Congress President. In recent months his rift with the Gandhian right-wing of the Congress had grown wider over the issues of his uncompromising attitude to the Federal Scheme, planning for socialism and insistence on inner-party democracy. Gandhi now decided to adopt the tactic of non- cooperation against the democratically elected Congress President. The Congress crisis deepened as Bose fell seriously ill in mid-February and all the members of the Congress Working Committee excepting Jawaharlal Nehru and Sarat Chandra Bose resigned on 22 February 1939. At the Tripuri session of the Congress in early March 1939 Bose was too ill to deliver his own presidential address, and it was read by his elder brother Sarat. In an uncharacteristically short speech Bose called upon the Congress to submit its national demand in the form of an ultimatum to the British government and to resort to mass civil disobedience if no satisfactory reply was received. He wanted the Congress to guide the popular movements in the princely states 'on a comprehensive and systematic basis' instead of doing work in the area of ' a piecemeal nature'. He was unequivocal on the need for close co-operation with 'all anti-imperialist 0- -J - -J- Organizations in the country particularly the Kisan movement and the Trade Union movement’.

At the Tripuri Congress the right-wing was able to pass a resolution stating that the Congress executive should be formed 'in accordance with the wishes of Gandhiji' and command his 'implicit confidence'. Since Gandhi remained obdurate and refused to suggest names for the Working Committee, Subhas Chandra Bose resigned as Congress President on •29 April 1939. Throughout the crisis Nehru had sought to playa mediating role, keeping at least a slight distance from the joint actions of the Working Committee led by Vallabhbhai Patel. Bose, however, felt completely betrayed by Nehru's latest attempt at 'riding two horses'. He had regarded Nehru as his 'elder brother' who had abetted his political opponents in their 'vendetta'. 'The unity that we strive for or maintain,' he wrote to Nehru, 'must be the unity of action and not the unity of in- action'."

By the time the next Congress session met in March of the following year at Ramgarh, Bose was holding his own, parallel Anti-Compromise Conference close to the site of the official meeting. 'The age of Irnperialism,’ he declared, 'is drawing to a close and the era of freedom. Democracy and Socialism looms ahead of us. India, therefore, stands at one of the crossroads of history.' He launched a scathing attack on the vacillating nature of the existing leadership at that fateful moment. He issued a call for a political consolidation of all genuine Leftists. 'In the present phase of our movement,' he explained, 'Leftists will be all those who will wage an uncompromising fight with Imperialism … In the next phase of our movement, Leftism will be synonymous with socialism.

On 2 July 1940 Subhas Chandra Bose was arrested for the eleventh time for leading the movement for the removal of the Holwell Monument in Calcutta. In November he decided to go on a hunger strike in an attempt to force the government to release him. The letter he wrote to the Governor of Bengal on 26 November 1940 before commencing his fast is one of the most stirring documents of sacrificial patriotism. ' … [N]obody can lose,' he wrote, 'through suffering and sacrifice. If he does lose anything of the earth earthy, he will gain much more in return by becoming the heir to a life immortal. The government released Bose on 5 December, having decided to play 'a cat and mouse policy' of rearresting him as soon as he recovered his health. His home in Elgin Road was put under round-the-clock surveillance. On the night of 16--17 January 1941 Sub has Chandra Bose made a carefully planned escape. He was driven by his nephew Sisir to Gomoh in Bihar from where he took the train to Delhi-and on to Peshawar. In the Frontier Province he was received by Mian Akbar Shah who made the arrangements for Bose to cross into Afghanistan. During the agonizing month and a half he spent in Kabul in February and March 1941, he wrote another lengthy political tract which is often referred to as his 'Kabul thesis'. In it he reiterated the two criteria for 'genuine Leftism' in Indian politics-uncompromising anti-imperialism in the current phase and socialist reconstruction in the next. Having abandoned his fledgling pressure group within the Congress-the Forward Bloc-in the pursuit of the larger armed struggle, he could merely hope that '[history will separate the chaff from the grain-the pseudo-Leftists from the genuine Leftists'." This hand-written thesis was delivered by his frontier guide Bhagat Ram Talwar to Sarat Chandra Bose in Calcutta in late March 1941.

Bose went to Europe in 1941 primarily in order to gain access to Indian soldiers in the British Indian Army who were prisoners-of-war in the hands of Germany and Italy. He had long. Believed that the subversion of the loyalty of Indian soldiers to the Raj had to be a crucial part of the anti-imperialist movement. His own allegiance was to India and India alone and, as he emphasized in his broadcasts, his socio-economic - views remained exactly the same as the ones he had articulated at home. With the help of Indian exiles, including students, he set up a Free India Centre, and from among Indian soldiers he raised an Indian Legion. He continued to write political essays and memoranda, some of which were published in his journal Azad Hind He thought in 1942 that it would be 'wrong to dogmatize from now about the form of the future Indian state'. He did say, however, that to begin with there will be 'a strong Central Government' and 'a well-organized, disciplined all-India party'. The state would 'guarantee complete religious and cultural freedom for individuals and groups'. 'When the new regime is stabilised and the state-machinery begins to function smoothly,' he wrote, 'power will be decentralized and the provincial governments will be given more responsibility'

Netaji had initially planned an armed thrust from the traditional north-westerly direction into India in support of India's unarmed freedom-fighters at horne. Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 upset all his calculations. The invasion, he told the German Government in categorical terms, would win them no friends in India. Eventually on 8 February 1943 he was able to leave Europe and after a 90-day submarine journey arrived in South East Asia. The presence of nearly two million Indian civilians in the region gave his movement in Asia a much larger social base of support. On 5 July 1943 Netaji announced in Singapore that India's Army of Liberation-the Azad Hind Fauj--had come into being. In the months that followed he electrified massive audiences of civilians and soldiers with his speeches in Hindustani and elicited an overwhelmingly positive response to his call for 'total mobilization'. On 21 October 1943 he proclaimed the Provisional Government of Free India which gave Indians a taste of independent statehood. He wrote the proclamation himself the night before the ceremony drawing on Indian history and elements of the Irish and American declarations of independence. 'Having goaded Indians to desperation by its hypocrisy,' he wrote, 'and having driven them to starvation and death by plunder and loot, British rule in India has forfeited the goodwill of the Indian people altogether and is now living a precarious existence. It needs but a flame to destroy the last vestige of that unhappy rule. To light that flame is the task of India's Army of Liberation'. In the final paragraph came the exhortation to the Indian people: I n the name of God, in the name of bygone generations who have welded the Indian people into one nation, and in the name of the dead heroes who have bequeathed to us a tradition of heroism and self-sacrifice-s-we call upon the Indian people to rally round our banner and strike for India's freedom."

With 'Chalo Delhi' on their lips the Azad Hind Fauj crossed the Indo- Burma frontier on 18 March 1944 and carried the armed struggle on to Indian soil. The most detailed justification of his course of action during the Second World War II was given by Netaji in his radio address to the Mahatma on 6 July 1944. Since Gandhi's decision to launch the Quit India movement, the two leaders had drawn closer in their aims and ideology. Netaji sought 'the blessings and good wishes" of the 'Father of Our Nation' for the 'holy war' that was then raging in north-eastern India.

Netaji found one last occasion to give his views on the fundamental problems of India when he was invited to address the students at Tokyo University in November 1944. He argued in what is called his 'Tokyo thesis' that the creative faculty of its people and their determination to resist imperialist domination gave ample proof of India's vitality as a nation. The speech had some glaringly weak points, especially in its discussion of caste in India. But Netaji was able to delineate with clarity for a foreign audience what he thought would be the three most urgent tasks facing free India-national defence, eradication of poverty and provision of education for all.

Netaji was to be denied the opportunity to implement his ideas on national reconstruction, which he had developed since the 1920s, in free India. In his Azad Hind movement he was able to demonstrate by example how to achieve Hindu-Muslim unity and amity and also give women their rightful role in public affairs, ideals he had been committed to all his life. But the promised march of his Fauj to Delhi was halted at Imphal. In the spring of 1945 Netaji made a historic retreat with the men and women 'of his army from Burma to Thailand and on to Malaya. 'The roads to Delhi are many,' he wrote in a Special Order of the Day on 15 August 1945, 'and Delhi still remains our goal.'38 He assured Indians in East Asia in his last message on the same day: 'Posterity will bless your name, and will talk with pride about your offerings at the altar of India's Freedom and about your positive achievement as well.'

At the end of the war in 1945, the independence movement in Delhi was at a low ebb. At that crucial moment Neraji's soldiers descended upon the Red Fort of Delhi as a God-send. The trial of some of their leading officers reached the saga of the INA and its Netaji to every Indian home. '[T]he whole country has been roused,' Gandhi observed, 'and even the regular forces have been stirred into a new political consciousness and have begun to think in terms of independence.' Netaji had succeeded in his strategy to knock out the keystone of British imperialist domination over. Its Asian colonies by supplanting the loyalty of the Indian soldiers to their enslavers with a new loyalty to their country's freedom. But his supreme self-sacrifice at the climactic moment of the war of independence also meant that his ideas found no place in the fashioning of post-colonial India.

' On the fiftieth anniversary of the achievement of India's independence, the country is gripped by an acute sense of uncertainty and anomie in national affairs. India seems once again to be at one of (he crossroads of history. At this critical juncture it may be worth taking a leaf out of Netaji's book of life and recall his unshakeable faith in India's destiny. A rare personality in contemporary history, he was at once deeply involved in the spiritual heritage of India and actively concerned with the most modern scientific advances anywhere in the world. His nationalism emphasized its emancipatory and creative aspects under colonial conditions and rejected its narrow, aggressive and potentially imperialistic dimensions. By contrast with Gandhi's nihilism and atom- ism, he put forth his own conceptions of the free Indian state. He occasionally spoke of the need for a strong centre in the immediate aftermath of independence to be able to carry out radical social and economic reforms. His socialism was, however, not of the dogmatic kind but one that was suited to Indian needs and aspirations. His discussion of power at the centre was almost always balanced by a call for substantial autonomy for both religious communities and regionally based linguistic groups in cultural and governmental spheres. Netaji's approach to the intertwined challenges to the construction of an all-India nationalism presented by affiliations of religious community and linguistic region was significantly different from and substantially more generous than that of most others among the Congress leadership, especially Patel and Nehru. In other words, he did not wish away or seek to suppress the fact of cultural difference but rather gave it due respect in his efforts to build unity. He was acutely aware from very early in his political life of the imperative to redress the subalternity that operated along lines of class, caste and, most importantly, gender. He believed in India's historic obligation to evolve a new social order based on careful study and synthesis of revolutionary experiments across the world. The samyauada Netaji was searching for meant for him a new alternative. 'India freed,' he was fond of saying, 'means humanity saved.' As a political leader, he fought for India's all-round liberation. As a thinker, he sought a new ethical conception in human affairs. Prepared in 1996 on the occasion of Netaji's birth centenary, this book of his essential writings is offered to a new generation of Indians who may wish through his vision to re- discover India.




  Editors' Introduction 1
1 Mother India(excerpts of letters to his mother, 1912-13 ) 19
2 At Cambridge (chapter in his unfinished autobiography An Indian Pilgrim containing extensive quotations from letters to his brother Sarat Chandra Bose during 1921 on the decision to resign from the Indian Civil Service) 23
3 Prison Life in Burma (excerpts of letters to his brother Sarat Chandra Bose, sister-in-law Bivabati Bose, friend Dilip Kumar Roy and novelist Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, 1924-27) 40
4 Deshbandhu Chittranjan Das (letter to Hemendra Nath Dasgupta, 20 February 1926) 61
5 Bengal's Spiritual Quest (excerpts of letters to Basanti Devi, 1927) 77
6 Democracy in India (presidential address at the Maharashtra Provincial Conference, Poona, 3 May 1928) 82
7 Complete Independence (speech at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress, December 1928) 92
8 The Individual, the Nation and the Ideal (speech at the Hooghly District Students' Conference, Chinsurah, 22 July 1929) 96
9 Punjab and Bengal, Students and Politics(speech at the Punjabi Students' Conference, Lahore, 19 October 1929) 100
10 Socialism in India (speech at the All India Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Karachi, 5 April 1931) 110
11 Trade Union and the Problems of Unemployment (presidential address at the All India Trade Union Congress, Calcutta, 4 July 1931) 121
12 The Anti-Imperialist Struggle and Samyavada (presidential address at the Third Indian Political Conference, London, 10 June 1933) 127
13 The Role of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian History (chapter 16 in The Indian Struggle, 1935) 147
14 India and Germany (excerpts of letters to Amiya Chakravarti and Dr Thierfelder, March 1936) 153
15 Impressions of Ireland (March 1936) 157
16 First Love (a letter to Emilie Schenkl, 1936) 160
17 Europe-Today and Tomorrow (21 August 1937) 162
18 Japan's Role in the Far East (19 September 1937) 175
19 My Faith (Philosophical) (the final chapter in his unfinished autobiography An Indian Pilgrim, 1937) 191
20 The Haripura Address (presidential address at the 51st Session of the Indian National Congress, February 1938) 197
21 Sadhana (reply to Rabindranath Tagore's address of welcome at Santiniketan, 21 January 1939) 220
22 The Tripuri Address (presidential address at the 52nd Session of the Indian National Congress, March 1939) 223
23 Riding Two Horses (a letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, 28 March 1939 and the article 'My Strange Illness', April 1939) 237
24 The Ramgarh Address (presidential address at the All-India Anti-Compromise Conference, 19 March 1940) 257
25 My Political Testament (letter to the Governor of Bengal before commencing fast-unto-death, 26 November 1940) 263
26 Forward Bloc-Its Justification (political thesis written in Kabul, February-March 1941) 269
27 Free India and its Problems (l942) 287
28 Azad Hind (special order of the day, 25 August 1943 and Proclamation of the Provisional Government of Free India, Singapore, 21 October 1943) 295
29 Father of Our Nation (radio address to Mahatma Gandhi, 6 July 1944) 300
30 The Fundamental Problems of India (address to the faculty and students of Tokyo University, November 1944) 310
31 The Roads to Delhi are Many (special order of the day, 15 August 1945) 326
32 India Shall be Free (message to Indians, 15 August 1945) 327
  Index 329


Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q. What locations do you deliver to ?
    A. Exotic India delivers orders to all countries having diplomatic relations with India.
  • Q. Do you offer free shipping ?
    A. Exotic India offers free shipping on all orders of value of $30 USD or more.
  • Q. Can I return the book?
    A. All returns must be postmarked within seven (7) days of the delivery date. All returned items must be in new and unused condition, with all original tags and labels attached. To know more please view our return policy
  • Q. Do you offer express shipping ?
    A. Yes, we do have a chargeable express shipping facility available. You can select express shipping while checking out on the website.
  • Q. I accidentally entered wrong delivery address, can I change the address ?
    A. Delivery addresses can only be changed only incase the order has not been shipped yet. Incase of an address change, you can reach us at
  • Q. How do I track my order ?
    A. You can track your orders simply entering your order number through here or through your past orders if you are signed in on the website.
  • Q. How can I cancel an order ?
    A. An order can only be cancelled if it has not been shipped. To cancel an order, kindly reach out to us through
Add a review
Have A Question

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Book Categories