Netaji Bose and the Indian National Army: Freedom Movement in East Asia

India has been under foreign yoke for well nigh over two centuries. From the first war of Indian Independence in 1857, otherwise misnamed the Sepoy Mutiny, many types of struggle have been launched, in and ex-India, for the liberation of our motherland. Whether the method adopted was violent or non- violent, open or subversive, civil or military, individual or collective, inside or outside India, the objective was the same in all cases, namely, the attainment of freedom, which was our birthright. On the dawn of our freedom, our mind naturally brings home to us in a kaleidoscopic manner the varying types of struggle launched by our leaders, from the distant past upto the present date, for our emancipation. Not the least important and noteworthy among them is the Indian Independence Movement launched in East Asia by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, together with the formation of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind, the Indian National Army which was the Government's sword- arm and the various auxiliary units for the efficient conduct of the campaign. A short resume of Netaji's historic contribution to the freedom of India is the least tribute his adherents and country- men can pay in memory thereof, on the dawn of freedom.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was without doubt a far-sighted, realistic type of leader. He knew that World War No. II was bound to materialise sooner or later as a natural corollary to the Versailles Treaty. He knew that our motherland could not be liberated unless a military campaign was launched from outside India. He knew also that facilities could be obtained for such a campaign only from Britain's enemies and not from Britain's allies during the course of World War II. With these basic ideas, he made good his escape from India and proceeded first to Germany and thence to Japan.


Netaji arrived in Singapore on July 4, 1943. The Indian Independence Movement had already been launched in East Asia by the late Rash Behari Bose, a veteran nationalist exiled in Japan. The old leader handed over charge to the new arrival, Subhas Chandra Bose, who was acclaimed as 'Netaji'. Within a few weeks of his arrival, Netaji became the live wire between Japan and the different occupied countries of East Asia; and brought under his fold all the Indians resident therein. He explained to them the imperative necessity for utilising the golden opportunity that presented itself at the moment to Indians in East Asia. His simple yet effective arguments were unassailable and extremely convincing. His sincerity to our cause and his honesty of purpose were self-evident. The words “Netaji will not sell our country to the Japanese” resounded in everybody's ears. Netaji became the most popular figure not only among all Indians, but also among the different nations In East Asia, who were attracted to him by his dynamic personality, fearless conduct, sterling character, charming manner and childlike simplicity.

Netaji took charge of the Indian National Army and expanded it to three divisions. On October 21, 1943, he formed the Provisional Government of Azad Hind with a Cabinet of Ministers and Advisers. On October 24, 1943, as Head of the State of the Provisional Government, he declared war on Britain for the liberation of forty crores of our brothers and sisters in our motherland. The Tri-colour Flag of the Congress was the flag adopted by the Provisional Government. A new National Anthem was adopted, so as to be acceptable to our Muslim brethren. “Chalo Delhi” was the war cry and “Jai Hind” was the acknowledged greeting among Indians. Great and memorable were the scenes of enthusiasm evidenced on the declaration of war,'In the presence of a very large civil and military gathering in Singapore.


Immediately after the declaration of war, Netaji broadcast a message to Mahatma

Gandhi and the people of India, as follows: “Father of our nation, we want your blessing and guidance at this critical juncture, when we have embarked on this momentous step for the attainment of freedom of our motherland.” Netaji had always a great regard for all our national leaders and particularly for Mahatmaji, whom he revered as his friend, philosopher and guide at all times.

To help the conduct of the campaign many a novel institution was created such as the Azad Hind Dal, Rani of Jhansi Regiment, Indian Independence Leagues, Balak Sena, etc. Material re- sources were donated in plenty and crores of cash poured into the coffers of the National Bank of Azad Hind. In fact, every one voluntarily placed their ‘Than’, ‘Man’and ‘Dhan’ at the altar of freedom. Recruitment and training of troops were carried out alongside in several training camps.

Netaji practised an independent outlook in every detail throughout the campaign. In diplomacy and military strategy, he was superb. All the resources were completely Indian; and the training of the I.N.A. was Indian with Hindustani words of command. The uniforms of the I.N.A. were of our own device. Except for aerial transport, the Japanese had nothing whatever to do with the movement at any stage, including the battles in the front line. Of course, we should concede that Japanese liaison had to be availed for obtaining all facilities under control owing to the fact that the Japanese had sovereignty rights in the occupied areas.

On January 6, 1944, the Headquarters of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind and of the Supreme Command of the I.N.A. were moved to Rangoon. On February 4, the brave soldiers of the I.N.A. had crossed the border and entered into India. By June, the I.N.A. had surrounded Imphal and were battering away at its outer ramparts. Later, owing to the advent of inclement weather, the I.N.A. had to withdraw into Burma. The subsequent story of the heroic battles waged by the I.N.A. in various fronts in Burma till (the fall of Rangoon on May 1,1945, and the circumstances of the final surrender of the I.N.A. to the British forces in Malaya on September 5, 1945, are well known. The final scene of Netaji's military campaign was enacted in the Red Fortress of Delhi during the historic trials by Military courts martial of the brave I.N.A. officers and men, most of whom are unfortunately still within prison-bars. Of all the great principles brought into practical application during the entire phase of the movement, the “Unity of India' deserves special mention. Netaji's I.N.A. was created with a view to be a living example to future free India; and in that I.N.A., religious, communal and other such differences were unknown. The fact that such unity still persists to-date, among all the members of the I.N.A., despite their economic hardship, proves that it was by no means ephemeral. Faith in our cause and readiness for sacrifice by voluntary total self-mobilisation were insisted on and willingly, forthcoming a far-sighted, realistic He knew that World nationalist exiled in leader handed over from all concerned. Besides organisational capacity and administrative ability, absolute sincerity to the cause and total sacrifice with the spirit of Bushido were needed for leadership, so as to be a shining to follow.

Every one worked hard and sacrificed to their utmost; and when the end came, there were no regrets. On 14th August 1945, Netaji, the undaunted leader, addressed a huge gathering in Singapore, when he stated that, even if the three million Indians in East Asia should perish to the last man, the sacrifice was nothing as compared to the freedom of crores of our sisters and brothers at home for many many years to come. Netaji then prophesied that the effect of the military campaign of the I.N.A. in East Asia would be to create an impression on the British Indian Army and ultimately make them politically conscious. In fact, this has been borne out even by Premier Attlee in his momentous statement on the eye of the Cabinet Mission to India. Netaji believed in the inner strength of India as the real strength of our movement in East Asia. He knew that the propaganda value of the military campaign conducted in East Asia would be immense in our motherland. This fact has been amply proved by the universal enthusiasm evinced throughout the length and breadth of India during the historic I.NA. trials.


Leaf through the pages and experience history in the making as our readers experienced it that day.

On the occassion of the 69th Independence Day, The Hindu presents to you the historic day of India's liberation from imperial rule through our edition dated August 15, 1947. You can leaf through the pages and experience history in the making as our readers experienced it that day. We have extracted select articles by the likes of V.K. Krishna Menon, T.T. Krishnamachari and C.V. Raman for you to read into the thoughts of the great minds of that era. You can click on the red marker on highlighted articles and proceed to the full story.

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