Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born on 23 January 1897 into the family of a well – to - do lawyer of Cuttack. He was destined to become one of the foremost leaders of India's freedom struggle and was to leave an indelible impression not merely on the history of modern India but on the minds and hearts of the people of Asia.
Netaji passed the Matriculation examination standing second in the Calcutta University. He graduated in 1919 with a First Class in Philosophy. In 1919, his parents decided to send him to England as they keenly desired that he should join the ICS.
He appeared for the competitive examination in 1920 and came fourth in order of merit. He also secured the Cambridge Tripos in Moral Sciences. Netaji however, did not complete the mandatory year of probation.
His mind had been deeply disturbed by grave developments at home. After the heinous Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, Netaji handed his resignation in April 1921, and returned to India.
He went to the Mahatma for guidance who, perceiving the passion for India's freedom that consumed Netaji directed him to Deshbandbu Chittaranjan Das, who had in the meantime arrived on the Indian political firmament and become the uncrowned king of Bengal.
From then on for a period of four years, till C. R. Das's death in 1925, Deshbandhu was his political guru. Netaji first proved his mettle in the thorough manner in which he worked for the total boycott of the Prince of Wales in Calcutta in 1921; subsequently his capacity for organisation and executive ability were amply demonstrated in the discharge of his duties as Chief Executive Officer of the Calcutta Corporation during the mayoralty of C. R. Das.
The Government however, soon put him behind bars in distant Mandalay on the trumped-up charge that he was actively associated with the terrorists of Bengal. However, after three years of detention without trial, he was released in 1927 on medical grounds, and soon began to take an active part in political life despite his shattered health.
He was elected President of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee. He devoted much of his time and attention to the organisation of the youth and to the Trade Union movement as well.
In 1928, the Motilal Nehru Committee appointed by the Congress, declared in favour of Dominion Status, but Netaji along with Pt Nehru opposed it. He also announced the formation of the Independence League. At the Calcutta Congress in 1928 presided over by Motilal Nehru, he was G.O.C. of the Congress Volunteers.
The Lahore Congress Session under Jawaharlal Nehru's presidency adopted a resolution declaring that the goal of the Congress would be complete independence or ‘Poorna Swaraj’. Gandhi ji's Salt Satyagraha Movement (1930) again found Netaji in the thick of the fight, and the Government arrested him and lodged him in jail.
When the Satyagraha was called off in March 1931 upon the conclusion of the Gandhi - Irwin Pact, Netaji who was given his liberty along with others, raised his voice in protest against the Pact and the suspension of the movement, especially when patriots like Bhagat Singh and his associates had not been saved from the gallows.
He soon came into conflict with the law, with the result that he was once again detained under the infamous Bengal Regulation. Within a year or so, his physical condition became so alarming that he was released and banished from India to Europe, where he took steps to establish centres in different European capitals with a view to promoting politico - cultural contacts between India and Europe.
Returning to India in 1936 in defiance of a Government ban on his entry, he was again arrested and imprisoned for a year. Soon after the General Election of 1937 and the accession of the Congress to power in seven Provinces, Netaji found himself a free man again, and shortly afterwards was unanimously elected President of the Haripura Congress Session in 1938. In his Presidential address he stressed the revolutionary potentialities of the Congress Ministries formed in seven Provinces.
Contrary to the popular notion regarding Jawaharlal Nehru's role in Planning, it was Netaji who as Congress President in 1938, talked of planning in concrete terms and set up a National Planning Committee in October that year. The year that followed saw the steady worsening of international relations, and clouds of war gathering on the European horizon.
At the end of his first term, the presidential election to the Tripuri Congress session took place early in 1939. Netaji was re - elected defeating Dr Pattabhi Sitaramayaa who had been backed by the Mahatma.
Soon after the election, the members of the Congress Working Committee resigned, and the Congress met at Tripuri under the shadow of a crisis within the Party as well as internationally.
Netaji was a sick man at Tripuri, but even so, with amazing and almost prophetic foresight, he warned that an imperialist war would break out in Europe within six months. He demanded that the Congress should deliver a six - month ultimatum to Britain and in the event of its rejection a country-wide struggle for 'Poorna Swaraj' should be launched.
His warning and advice went unheeded, and what was worse, his powers as President were sought to be curtailed. He therefore resigned in April 1939, and announced in May 1939 the formation of the Forward Bloc within the Congress. In August he was removed from the Presidency of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee, and further debarred from holding any elective office in the Congress for a period of three years. In September 1939 war broke out in Europe, and Netaji’s prophecy at Tripuri came true almost to the very day.
India was dragged into the Imperialist War. The Congress Ministries in seven Provinces resigned in October 1939, but Mahatma Gandhi declared that he would not like to embarrass the British Government during the war. In March 1940 Netaji convened an Anti-Compromise Conference at Ramgarh, Bihar, under the joint auspices of the Forward Bloc and the Kisan Sabha.
The Conference resolved that a world-wide struggle should launched on 6 April, the first day of the National Week, calling upon the people not to help the Imperialist War with men, money or materials, and to resist by all means and at all costs the exploitation of Indian resources for the preservation of Empire.
The Indian people, hungry for freedom, participated in their thousands in the struggle launched throughout the country by the Forward Bloc on 6 April. Subhas Babu was arrested in July by the Bengal Government on the eve of the Anti - Holwell Monument Satyagraha in Calcutta, and sent to jail.
While in prison, he resorted to hunger-strike, whereupon he was released in December 1940. A month later, on the historic 'Independence Day' 26 January, 1941, an astounded India heard the news that Netaji had suddenly disappeared from his house under the very nose of the C.I.D.
It was not until November of that year that news trickled in from Berlin that he had gone out of India, in order, "to supplement from outside the struggle going on at home".
In January 1942, he began his regular broadcasts from Radio Berlin, which aroused tremendous enthusiasm in India. In the midst of the war, Netaji left Germany early in 1943, and after a perilous three-month voyage in a submarine arrived in Singapore on 2 July 1943.
The dramatic appearance of the dynamic leader was a signal for wild jubilation among the Indian prisoners - of - war as well as the civilian community in Singapore and elsewhere in East Asia. Two days later, he took over from Rash Behari Bose the leadership of the Indian Independence Movement in East Asia, organised the Azad Hind Fauj (the Indian National Army), and becoming its Supreme Commander on August 25, proclaimed the Provisional Government of Azad Hind on October 21.
He was hailed as Netaji by the Army as well as by the Indian civilian population in East Asia. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands were liberated in November and renamed Shaheed and Swaraj Islands respectively.
The I.N.A. Headquarters was shifted to Rangoon in January 1944, and marching thence towards their Motherland with the war cry "Chalo Delhi!" on their lips.
The Azad Hind Fauj crossed the Burma Border, and stood on Indian soil on 18 March 1944. How the brave Army subsequently advanced up to Kohima and Imphal, how Free India's banner was hoisted aloft there to the deafening cries of "Jai Hind" and "Netaji Zindabad", how the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki compelled Japan to surrender and the I.N.A. subsequently to retreat, have all become part of history.