Everyone around the world knows who Gandhi was, but no one outside of India seems to know who Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was. This man was willing to work with anyone to help India gain independence during the World War II era, even Hitler.
Bose was a man of action and not the type to peacefully protest.
He deserves some recognition for what he tried to accomplish.
Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897, in Cuttack, Orissa Division, Bengal Province, India. This was when India was colonized by the British. At age five he attended the Protestant European School and then at age ten he transferred to the Ravenshaw Collegiate School. It is said the headmaster of the Ravenshaw school immediately knew Bose was a genius. He briefly attended the Presidency College, but was expelled because he assaulted a professor for saying anti-India comments. That is a real rebel right there. He then transferred and graduated from Scottish Church College. Afterwards he took the Indian Civil Services examination and placed fourth, which got him selected. However, he did not want to work for a foreign government, so he declined the offer and moved back to India.
Bose became an advocate of revolution. He published a newspaper called Swaraj, which means "Self-Governance". It's like if Fredrick Douglass called his paper "End Slavery!". In 1923, he was elected the president of the All India Youth Congress and the Secretary of the Bengal Youth State Congress. In 1925, he was arrested along with other nationalists and put in prison for two years. After he was released he became the mayor of Calcutta. In the mid-1930s Bose went to Europe to observe politics. He mainly focused on communism and fascism, so he did meet people like Benito Mussolini. Mussolini to most people would not be the best example to follow, but you have to keep in mind that Bose's enemy was Britain. None of the Allies were going to free India, so he had to go to the enemy. Granted even the enemy wasn't concerned about de-colonizing India. Bose during the 1930s wrote the first part of his book, "The Indian Struggle", that covered India's independence movement from 1920-34. For some reason Britain did not allow that book to be released to the colonies in India. I wonder why.
Bose became the leader of the nationalist movement and ran for Congress President. He had one enemy, Mohandas Gandhi. Yeah, Gandhi might have been a symbol for peace, but he was a politician first. The main divide between the two was Bose's willingness to use force against the British. Bose was elected in 1938, but Gandhi's opposition to him created a split in the Indian National Congress Party. Bose tried to keep it united, but Gandhi wasn't willing to compromise. He won reelection the next year, but resigned so Gandhi's candidate could take his place. This is due to Gandhi's making Bose feel bad by claiming India would be more united. Gandhi was one crafty politician. It is worth noting despite their political differences Gandhi and Bose did respect one another. Bose organized a protest against Britain and was put in jail, but was released after a seven day hunger strike.
After his release Bose decided to escape to Germany. On January 19, 1941, Bose and his nephew successfully avoided British surveillance and escaped from India under disguise. After an epic Indiana Jones adventure across Russia and Afghanistan he made it to Berlin, Germany in April. Bose set up the Indian Legion, which consisted of 4500 Indian soldiers that were prisoners of war. All of them had fought the British in North Africa. However, despite his growing legion, Bose was not happy. Adolf Hitler's forces had invaded the USSR, which Bose was very found of. On top of that the damage caused by this failed attack meant to Bose that Hitler would not be able to help him liberate India. In May 1942, Bose actually met with Hitler and realized Hitler had no interest in helping India. So in February 1943, Bose secretly escaped from Germany by submarine to Japan.
(Bose shaking hands with Hitler.)
In Japan, Bose revived the Indian National Army (INA) and rallied Indians to join to fight the British. He also had a women regiment made up of young women including teenage girls. He literally had girl power. A famous quote he said to the Indians was, "Give me blood and I'll give you freedom!". The INA fought for Japan during World War II until Japan surrendered at the end of the war. Most of the INA soldiers were tried for treason by Britain when they returned to India. On July 6, 1944, during a radio broadcast, Bose addressed Gandhi as "the Father of the Nation (referring to India)" and asked for his blessings. He was the first person to give Gandhi that title.
(Bose with some of his soldiers.)
On August 18, 1945, Bose died from third degree burns. Hours earlier the plane he was riding on had crashed in Formosa (now Taiwan). The plane crashed due to engine problems and being overloaded. However, some people don't believe he died that day. They say he made it to the USSR where he was locked up in a labor camp or that he just disapeared all together. Maybe he's chilling out with Elvis Presley on an uncharted island.
The question of change through peace or violence has always plagued people's minds. Especially when it comes to Civil Rights in cases such as Bose vs. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Malcolm X. It's a tough debate. People say war is not the answer, but war actually has been an answer multiple times in the past and probably will be in the future. For example if it wasn't for the American Revolution the world would be completely different and Americans would not have the liberties they enjoy now. Same thing goes for France, Russia, and many other countries. War has shaped this world for better or worse. War does have its benefits, especially if you win. World War II brought the people of the U.S. together, got the country out of the Great Depression, and gave changed the role of women (granted women were casted back in their gender roles for awhile after the war, but it was still a step in the right direction). We needed a war to stop Hitler. It's not like Hitler was going to wake up one day and come to a realization like, "Wow, I've been such a douchebag. I will apologize for everything I have done and leave the Jews alone". That's just unrealistic. People that use power to harm others will do so until some fights back with greater power.
Obviously, war has its consequences and the consequences can outweigh the positives. Everyone agrees the Iraq War was a horrible decision. Not only is it a factor in the horrible economy the U.S. has today, but also Iraq was left in a worse state than when Saddam Hussein was in charge. The peaceful route can work at times. Syria is a great example. I will not say Assad is a good president, but he knows how to run a country. A lot of Syrians actually do not like the rebels because the rebels are just causing chaos. On top of that if Assad were killed there is no person or group that could take over. More violence will spread over whom will rule the country. Western powers taking control would have been met with violent response from terrorists. It's a good thing Russia peacefully settled things. Martin Luther King Jr. used peace and was a success.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose devoted his entire life to his country. He was willing to work with anyone to gain India's independence. Some may criticize Bose for working with the Axis of Powers, but in his defense there was no one else to turn to. At the end of the day all that matters was his heart was in the right place. Aren't we all selfish for the wellbeing of our countries?
This has been the fifteenth entry in my Interesting Biographies series. Follow my blog for more installments in the future. Also read my previous biographies. Special thanks to Annanya Johari for the suggestion. Leave a comment if there is someone you want my to do a biography on.