The Indian National Army in World War II
Usually when people reminisce about World War II in the Pacific theater they talk about the struggles between the Allied forces and Japanese powers in battles like the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, but they never talk about struggles in places like India. India, literally a ticking time bomb, was under the control of the British and was known to occasionally fight back against the British Raj. As one can imagine, the Indian Nationalists of that period would have saw World War II has a perfect time to try to gain independence from British rule. What happened in World War Two to drastically contribute to the push for Indian independence in 1947? Moreover, what were the affects of such an event?
Events in history tend not to happen very fast, but crawl toward a very slow climax and this was indeed the case in India when ideas of independence came on the horizon. In the early twentieth century Indian exiles/revolutionaries, having been prevented from agitation in India, found a safe haven for activity among the immigrants of the West Coast of the United States. There on the West Coast the Indian exiles created a newspaper called “The Ghadr” (Revolution) which was distributed to most Indian communities in America and regularly smuggled into India. In 1914, “The Ghadr” was able to persuade several thousand Sikhs to go back home to India, with trouble on their minds. With Indian Nationalists seeking trouble in India, Europe plunged into World War I and the Indian Revolutionary Society flourished while becoming openly pro-German. Indian conspirators figuratively used German diplomatic posts for Indian Independence billboards in places like Shanghai, Batavia, and the United States to assist its agents in India.
Needless to say, this idea of Indian independence spread down to the grass roots of Indian/Asian society and motivated people to think about an independent India. For example, after World War One Indian movements like Gandhi’s Civil Disobedience Acts began to become more popular and he as well as the ideology gained a foot hold in India. Although Gandhi’s Civil Disobedience Acts were eventually called off, it churned the political pot in India and set the stage for India’s struggle for independence in World War Two.
As expected, at the outbreak of World War Two, Indians scrambled toward the Axis powers in the hope that they would help liberate India from Britain. The Indian Independence League of Japan (organized by Rash Behari Bose, an Anti-British Indian Nationalist) and many other groups began to openly speak against the British presence in India and Japan began to negotiate with Germany about how to enlist their help to weaken the British hold over India. Luckily for the Axis powers, their efforts were re-enforced by Subhash Chandra Bose, leader of the Indian National Congress, who traveled to Germany to help gain the independence of India. In addition, exiled/revolutionary Indian Nationalist members who campaigned in the beginning of the century in places like Shanghai, Batavia, Canton, and Hong Kong came out in the open and started to gather allies to help overturn British rule in India.
Interestingly, during the outbreak of the war Japanese sheltered the Indians in Japan even though officially they were enemies. It is estimated that there 874 Indians in Japan in 1939; most were politicians, business men, and students and were located in the big cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe, and Osaka. British officials at the beginning of the war told the Indians to leave Japan, but none left because the Japanese assured them safety and freedom to carry on their political/business agendas. Moreover, almost all Indian assets were unfrozen by the Japanese Government and they were treated in the same way as the assets of other friendly countries. In addition to Japan, there were also Indians in other countries like Thailand. Although there were a great number of religious and...
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