Life and Work of Subhas Chandra Bose

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Towards a revival of the Bose legacy Madhuri Bose "Rose early but found Prabha still suffering. A son was born at midday..." reads a brief entry in Janakinath's diary dated 23 January 1897. The newborn, the ninth child of Janakinath Bose and Prabhabati Devi was named Subhas Janakinath was then practicing law in Cuttack, in the state of Orissa. He headed a large extended family, in which, Subhas was to later recall in his autobiography An Indian Pilgrim, he felt "like a thoroughly insignificant being. My parents awed me to a degree". It is now 111 years since the birth of Subhas Chandra Bose, and sixty-three years since his last known journey out of South East Asia, reportedly to the Soviet Union, in mid-August 1945. On 23 January every year Subhas' birth anniversary is celebrated across India. Speeches extolling Bose's charisma and personality, his unique contributions towards Indian independence continue to be made, and stirring national songs continue to be sung in his honour. On that day, in addition to institutionally sponsored events, spontaneous remembrance ceremonies organized by neighbourhood and citizens' groups also take place. This is a unique feature associated only with Subhas' birth anniversary which reflects the depth of people's veneration for him after more than half a century of his disappearance. This, in a sense, is a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to liberating India from British colonial rule, and had a vision to make Free India one of the leading nations in the world. But. 23 January will pass and Bose will again be relegated to the pages of history. Though deified by many, his ideology and mission are forgotten, or are not even known by the younger generations of Indians. From his entry into the Indian political movement in the early 1920s, throughout his prison years and bouts of serious illnesses, Subhas had developed his thoughts on social, political and economic issues which then formed the basis of his ideology. His famous address as the President of the 51sl Session of the Indian National Congress at Haripura in 1938 contains the crux of his political and economic thinking and plans. Is it widely known that it was in Haripura that Subhas launched the very first Planning Commission for India? In all his key addresses in India and abroad, in articles published in various journals, Subhas articulated his vision for Free India. In his view the most important problems to be addressed in independent India were that of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy, challenges which have still not been met today after sixty years of independence. Together with the celebratory functions, a more fitting tribute to Subhas' memory will be to effectively propagate his vision and ideology which will in turn promote a better understanding of the history and politics of India, and also inspire the present generation of Indians to shape India on the basis of the high moral values and principles that Subhas stood for and practised all his life. Subhas' works should be part of school and university curricula. Research institutes, including the Netaji Institute for Asian Studies (Kolkata) should actively encourage and support national and international scholars to reassess Subhas' role in the Indian independence movement, and also his contemporary relevance. A deeper study of his works will show that many of his social and economic plans still remain valid under present day conditions. In the current Indian situation where there is a bankruptcy of leadership, ideas, commitment and action, Subhas' message, through his writings, speeches and commentaries may help to resurrect the failing morale of those who are working to bring positive change in this country. Above all, Subhas' life-long emphasis on the importance of communal harmony and unity among peoples, irrespective of birth, caste, creed and religion, has not only remained relevant, in fact it has even gained a sense of urgency. In a world torn by...
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