This biography is the story of two exceptional brothers one a well-known barrister and public figure who was a dominate force to reckon with in British India and the other a revolutionary and national hero of this country who set a portion of British-dominated India free before 15 August 1947, remembered and revered by the world as Netaji. The brothers – Sarat Chandra and Subhas Chandra Bose (Netaji) hailed from the Bose family of Mahinagar in west Bengal. The family has a long lineage, a rich social and Political hearitage and an eventful past. The author Sisir Kumar Bose – Sarat Chandra's son and Netaji's nephew-offers a first person account and an insider's view of the dynamics of and the upheavals in the family during the tumultuous days of the Raj in early and mid – 20th century. The rise of Sarat Chandra Bose as one the most eminent barristers and public figures of the times has been deftly yet sensitively traced by his son, supported by priceless photographs, letters, pages from diaries and other documents from the family archives and the Netaji Research Bureau. On the 125th birth anniversary of Sarat Chandra Bose, this book is an insightful contribution to the annals of the socio – political history of Pre-Independence India.
Sisir Kumar Bose (1920-2000) founded the Netaji Research Bureau in 1957 and was its guiding spirit until his death in 2000. A gallant participant in India's freedom struggle, he was imprisoned by the British in the Lahore Fort, Red Fort, and Lyallpur Jail. In the post-Independence period he was one of India's leading paediatricians. Even in the midst of a busy professional life, he played a key role in preserving the best traditions of the anti-colonial movement and making possible the writing of its history. Son of Sarat Chandra Bose and Bivabati Bose, Sisir helped his uncle Subhas Chandra Bose in planning and executing the great escape from India in January 1941. He drove Netaji from Calcutta to Gomoh on the first leg of his epic journey. Sisir took active part in the Quit India movement and Netaji's revolutionary underground during World War II. After his release from prison in September 1945, he completed his medical studies in Calcutta, London and Vienna and later went as Rockefeller Fellow to the Harvard Medical School in Boston. He married Krishna Bose in 1995. They have two sons and a daughter.
The Sarat Chandra Bose Centenary Committee and the Netaji Research Bureau, Calcutta, have rendered a useful service to Indian historiography by means of this souvenir containing articles and documentary material on the great patriot, Sri Sarat Chandra Bose. I compliment Saratbabul's son Dr Sisir Kumar Bose on the initiative taken by him and the two organisations to commemorate the centenary thus. The Photographs, facsimile letters and personal reminiscences constitute a fascinating account of Saratbabu's life. The souvenir however goes much beyond the sequence of events in his life, interesting as they are in themselves. It encompasses the social and political events of an entire era during which the old order marked by the British Rule was drawing to a close and India was approaching the dawn of freedom. Ten years older than his dynamic brother Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Saratbabu was a person of equanimity, deep convictions and noble values. Capable of unremitting hard work whether as a shining light of the Calcutta Bar or as a public figure, he represented the best of Bengal's intellect, culture, urbanity and national spiritedness. Some of us belonging to that generation still recall the nationwide anguish when in 1932 both the brothers were incarcerated. While the Home Department refused to bring saratbabu to trial or before any tribunal to answer charges against him, the allegation was made in the Central Assembly that Saratbabu had been deeply involved in the terrorist movement. Or perhaps they were deliberately distorting the truth. Saratbabu was the very personification of civilised norms – public or private. A gentleman to the core, he believed that the nation's travails in bondage needed bold action. But terrorism in its stealthy, cowardly forms was never Saratbabu's creed. In a withering reply to the Government sent through a leatter, Saratababu exposed what he described as: While in detention it is only natural for prisoners' thoughts to turn to one's kith and kin. But Saratbabu's anxieties transcended those pertaining to his immediate family. He thought of others who leaved on him. Such were Saratbabu's social commitments. A little later, the brothers were confined together at Jabalpur and placed in a dormitory for convicts. They were completely cut off from other political prisoners. Saratbabu was able to return home only in 1935. Jail-going shattered his health but Saratbabu was not the one to be anxious over personal discomfort. He introspected, read and meditated deeply, while in prison. In 1936 as President of the Bengal Congress, Saratbabu toured the districts intensively and came to study the problems of the people of Bengal at first hand. Saratbabu was placed in charge of the Congress Election Campaign in1936 in Bengal and under his leadership, the party was able to come out as the largest single party in the Bengal Legislative Assembley. The Indian National Congress's decision not to enter into coalition arrangement conferred on the Congress Legislative Party in Bengal the role of the Opposition. Saratbabu's speeches as a member of the Opposition were masterpieces of preparation and delivery. He was heard with respect and admiration ever by those who were on the other side of the political fence. In fact the speaker used to invariably request Saratbabu to come up and deliver his speeches from near the speaker's seat so that he could be heard and seen better! Saratbabu was arrested again in the wake of the Second World War. The government of India alleged that there had been contacts between the Japanese and Saratbabu, rendering his apprehension necessary. It was not before 2 1/2 years later that the government formally conveyed to Saratbabu the grounds of his detention. It was stated then that he had been in contact with Subhashbabu and was a party to Subhashbabu's plans' which were prejudicial to British India and the efficient prosecution of the War', the bells were already tolling for the 'efficient prosecution of the War', the bells were already tolling for the old British Empire. Saratbabu was lodged in Calcutta and later sent to Tiruchirappalli and then to Mercara. He was moved from place to place in what was clearly a sign of the government's weakness. This cavalier treatment of a respected public figure, along with the many initiatives against Subhasshbabu, aroused countrywide ire. Saratbabu was released only after the war came to an end. In 1946 he was elected as Leader of the Congress Party in the Central Legislative Assembly. The Congress being the largest single party in the House, Saratbabu automatically became the Leader of the opposition. Quite naturally he was invited in 1947, to join the Interim Government headed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and was entrusted with the portfolio of Works, Mines and Power. Differences, however, led to his leaving the Ministry in a short time and a little later, Saratbabu charted a separate political course for himself. But even though his path veered away from that of the Congress leadership at the State and Center, Saratbabu continued to be regarded as one of the tallest sons of the Indian Renaissance. His deep patriotism, his courage in the face of great discomfort, steadfastness, high standards of public and private courtesy – all these were nationally acknowledged and admired. Saratbabu belonged to – and symbolised – the generation when patriotism was second nature with us, and work was its own reward. His life cannot but be a source of undying inspiration. This souvenir and Dr. Sisir Kumar Bose's article in it, unfold the saga of this rare and inspiring life. I have no doubt the Publication will be read widely and with absorbing interest.
I never saw my paternal grandfather. Sarat Chandra Bose passed away more than six years before I was born. What I remember about my father, Sisir Kumar Bose, is exactly what he recollected about his: 'Ever since I was a small child and till the very end my father appeared to me to be continuously at work'. In my father's case this obsession with work had something to do with a question his Rangakakababu Subhas Chandra Bose, posed to him in December 1940: 'Amaar ekta kaaj korte parbe? From that magical moment Sisir Kumar Bose never stopped doing Netaji's work. The immediate kaaj or work at hand was, of course, to help plan and execute Netaji's great escape from India in January 1941. After Independence he founded the Netaji Research Bureau in 1957. It has over the last half a century and more preserved the best traditions of India's freedom struggle for future generations. The year 2014 marks Sarat Chandra Bose's 125th birth anniversary. Sarat Bose, Subhas's Mejdada was almost an exact contemporary of Jawaharlal Nehru and a near contemporary of Maulana Azad. Remembering My Father Sarat Chandra Bose was originally written as a centenary offering a quarter of a century ago. It is much more than a son's personal memoir of his father. As Sisir puts it in his opening sentence, Sarat did not belong merely to his family. In fact, for both Sarat and Subhas their family and country were co–terminous. Sisir Kumar Bose composed an intimate social and political history of India's freedom struggle seen through the prism of his father's life. Embellished with additional rate photographs and documents, this newly designed and revised edition is both a literary and visual evocation of Bengal's contribution to India's anti-colonial movement. I rediscovered Sarat Chandra Bose while researching for and writing my book His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India's Struggle Against Empire. At every critical turning point in Netaji's life Sarat Bose Played a major role. 'Another year has rolled by Subhas wrote to Sarat on 8 January 1913, and we find ourselves responsible to God for the progress or otherwise that we have made during the last twelve months. Subhas, not yet sixteen, saw darkness, despair and decline engulfing India, but the angle of hope' had appeared in the form of the Saintly Vivekananda'. 'A brighter future is India's destiny', Subhas told his brother. The day may be far off – but it must come. In 1921 Subhas sought counsel and support in long letters he wrote to Sarat as he prepared to resign from the Indian Civil Service. He did not care that many of his relatives would 'howl' when they heard his rash proposal to not join the service. But I have faith in your Idealism' he wrote to Sarat, and that is why I am appealing to you. He was sure that Sarat would respond favourably but hardly anyone else among his relatives would approve of his eccentric plans'. My decision is final and unchangeable, he wrote to his brother, but my destiny is at present in your hands. Can I not expect your blessings in return and will you not wish me Godspeed in my new and adventurous career? During the years that Subhas spent in Burmese prisons in the mid-1920s he carried on a regular correspondence with Sarat. Seeing no legal option to secure the release of his brother, Sarat explored a political route to win his emancipation. New elections to the Bengal legislative council were due late in 1926. Sarat began to mull the possibility of deploying the Sinn Fein tactic of nominating political prisoners for election based on the principle, 'Vote him in, to get him out'. Subhas agreed to be put up in the north Calcutta constituency against Jatindra Nath Basu, a stalwart of the Liberal party, who had beaten the swarajist candidate in 1923. God willing, we shall give him a bamned hollow defeat wrote sarat who was confident of his younger brother's prospects. Sarat managed Subhas's election campaign as well as his own from the University constituency throughout the Autumn of 1926 with consummate skill. Both were rewarded in the winter with thumping victories. The supporters of the Bose brothers celebrated with fireworks and Victory to Subhas Chandra' in glittering Bengali letters illuminated the Calcutta sky. The colonial authorities in India, however, proved more obdurate than their counterparts in Ireland. Winning the vote was not sufficient to get Subhas out of Jail. 'Ideas are the stuff of which human movements are made,' Subhas passionately proclaimed to Sarat, 'and they are not static but dynamic and militant. They are as dynamic as the Absolute Idea of Hegel, the Blind Will of Hartmann and Schopenhauer, the elan vital of Henri Bergson. A life consecrated to ideas was bound to fulfil itself. He then invoked St. Paul's famous words: we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Subhas had unflinching faith in the ultimate triumph of the ideas for which he stood. Sarat was very much a part of the planning of Netaji's great escape from this house in January 1941 and gave some careful advice to his son Sisir who drove the escape car. He also managed the aftermath of the escape. May Subhas receive your blessings wherever he may be was the cable Rabindranath Tagore received from Sarat in response to his anxious query. Once Subhas had safely reached Europe, Sarat Chandra Bose confided in Rabindranath Tagore the true nature of his brother's mission during a visit to the ailing poet in Santiniketan. In perhaps his last short story written before his death in August 1941 Tagore described the journey of a lonely traveller in freedom's quest across the rugged terrain of Afghanistan. Just before embarking on his perilous submarine journey from Europe to Asia, Subhas wrote a poignant letter in Bengali for Sarat dated 8 February 1943, and left it in his wife Emilis's hands:
There is a common belief that just as in love and war, nothing is unfair so in politics one need not have any scruples at all. But Sarat Chandra Bose could any scruples at all. But Sarat Chandra Bose could never accept this view of politics. A man of strong integrity, he looked upon politics as noble way of life based on the highest of values. He demanded from his fellow politicians the same uprightness and incorruptibility that he himself practised. Even in those days of pre-Independence idealism, it was a very high standard indeed. Sarat Chandra Bose used to say repeatedly that one who is morally wrong cannot be politically right. This belief in high morality in public life, as also some of his other political beliefs, Set him apart and sometimes cost him dearly in his political career. Sarat Chandra Bose, the second son and fourth child of Janakinath and Prabhabati Bose, was born on 6 September 1889. His younger brother Subhas Chandra Bose was born eight years later. Sisir Kumar Bose suggests in this book that Sarat inherited many of the remarkable traits of his Character from his father Janakinath. The Bose family has a long lineage. The founder of the clan was Dasarath Bose. One of the ancestors in the eleventh generation Mahipati, better known by his title subuddhi Khan, was the Minister of Revenue and war in Bengal. His grandson Purandar Khan rose to be the Finance Minister and Navel Commander of Sultan Hussain Shah in early 16th century. Thus, courage, leadership and administrative ability ran in the family. Sarat Bose grew up during tumultuous times in Bengal politics – the days of 'boycott' 'Swadeshi' and agitation against Lord Curzon's Bengal partition. At the age of eighteen he joined the Congress – the congress of the pre – Gandhian era. That Sarat Bose would one day be a successful barrister and an able parliamentarian became evident when he was a student of Calcutta's Presidency College. At college he gained a reputation as an invincible debated and was also known for his remarkable proficiency in English literature. From 1911 to 1914 Sarat Bose was in England preparing for the Bar. From there he wrote regularly to his wife Bivabati whom he had married in 1909. Sisir kumar Bose presents excerpts from these private letters in this book. Sarat Bose was called to the Bar from Lincoln's Inn. He rose very rapidly as a barrister in the Calcutta High Court and soon his earning was substantial. He was formidable in cross examination and lucid in exposition of the law. However, he dedicated his talent as well as his purse to the nation. It has been said that Congress workers could go to jail without any anxiety since Sarat Bose was there to take care of their families. He was the defence counsel of political prisoners and revolutionaries. About the young revolutionaries of Bengal he commented they were sterling gold'. If they could not be protected who would take change of Independent India? Sarat Bose's organisational ability came to the fore when Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das asked him to take when Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das asked him to take charge of the management of the paper Forward. Later his organisational capacity was utilised when on two occasions he was in charge of the Congress election campaign and won great success for his party. His other field of activity was the Calcutta Corporation. In 1924 he was elected an Alderman of the Calcutta Corporation. Deshbandhu was the Mayor and subhas Bose the Chief Executive. He remained an Alderman for eight years. His house at 1 Woodburn park became the hub of Political activity in Bengal. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru stayed there as his guests when in Calcutta. Tagore came there to meet the Mahatma. Sarat Bose's hospitality was legendary. Some historians are of the opinion that Sarat Bose's contribution to the nation went somewhat unnoticed because he was overshadowed by his illustrious younger brother Subhas. But if Sarat Bose was not there to provide solid support – moral, political, financial – we might not have got Subhas as we did. Sarat Bose recognised the genius of his younger brother at an early stage though other family members failed in the family until much later. Subhas always turned to his Mejadada, Sarat when faced with any crisis in his life. After the Oaten incident at Presidency College when Subhas was expelled by his Principal, it was Sarat who ran from pillar to post so that he could resume studies at the Scottish Church College. When Subhas Bosse resigned from the ICS in 1921 he again sought moral support from Sarat. He wrote from England: I need not make it secret that I felt I was responsible more to father mother and Yourself for what I did than to anyone else. You have done all that you could for me and all that I could expect from you But when I appeal to you to consent to my resignation I do so not a personal favour but for the sake of our unfortunate country you will have to look upon the money spent for my sake as a gift laid at the feet of the mother without any expectation of return.
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Item Code: NAK118 Author: Sisir Kumar Bose Cover: Hardcover Edition: 2014 Publisher: Niyogi Books ISBN: 9789383098507 Language: English Size: 10.0 inch x 6.5 inch Pages: 244 (Throughout B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 639 gms
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