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Mainstream, VOL LII No 5, January 25, 2014 - Republic Day Special

Netaji on India’s Struggle for Freedom

Tuesday 28 January 2014

On January 23 this year falls Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s 117th birth anniversary. On this occasion we are carrying the following excerpts from Netaji’s speeches for the benefit of our readers.

The Indian movement can be analysed under two aspects: 1) the aspect of national liberation—this aspiration is understood by freedom lovers all over the world; 2) the endeavour to create a new social order on the basis of social justice.

It is difficult to see the form the new social order will take. We who are fighting for national freedom are not out to hand over our country to a small group of landowners. We are not fighting to substitute a brown bureaucracy for a white bureaucracy. We want to inaugurate a new social order where men will be free; caste, sex and wealth distinction must be abolished.

If it is difficult to free India from imperialism, it is also difficult to create a new social order there. Socialism has been understood in different ways in different countries. We want a new society in which man-made divisions will disappear. If India’s case can be presented in the proper way to humanity, we should undoubtedly receive much sympathy.

There is another aspect of the Indian question. Many are concerned at the rapid expansion of Japanese imperialism in Asia. It is necessary for us to think of the means of preventing the growth of Japanese imperialism in Asia. If tomorrow China could be strong and unified, if towmorrow India could be free, I am sure it would influence the balance of power in Asia and serve to check the spread of Japanese imperialism. It is therefore our duty to support the anti-imperialist movements in Asia, China and India. To check Japan will strengthen the anti-imperialist movements all over the world.

A few words about the future of our movement in India. There is a belief abroad that the influence of Gandhi has died down. If I were to interpret the modern situation in an objective manner I should say that M. Gandhi has not lost his influence.

Within the Nationalist Party there is criticism of his tactics, but this does not mean that he has lost his popularity. The private life of Gandhi has enhanced his reputation. I have referred to some of the criticisms made within the Nationalist Party of Gandhi’s political mistakes. The feeling is growing that the Nationalist Party should make its position clear with regard to the social question. Our movement aims not only at national liberation, but also at social freedom. It is now felt more than before that our country is faced with the issues of the landlords and the peasants and capital and labour. The feeling is growing that the Indian National Congress should declare itself more explicitly on the side of the masses. The net result so far, of this criticism, has been that within the Nationalist Party people are beginning to think more on the social question—we are moving in the direction of socialism.

[From an address in Paris, March 17, 1936]

WHATEVER be our solution of any particular Indian problem, there are certain ideas which should be common ground between ourselves in the first place. We should all realise that the world today is a unified whole and the fate of India is linked up with that of the rest of the modern world. The strategy and tactic of the Indian movement should, therefore, be determined after a full comprehension of the world situation of today and tomorrow. Secondly, Imperialism, in whichever form it may appear, is a measure to the liberty of other people and to the peace of the modern world. It may appear in the cloak of democracy as in Western Europe or in the garb of Fascist dictatorship as in Central Europe. But as lovers of freedom and peace, we have to resolutely set our face against it.

Thirdly, as against the outside world, India is one unit and the different provinces and different communities of India should line up under one banner and one policy, if we are to bring about the speedy emancipation of our people. Fissiparous tendencies, whether of a provincial or of a communal character should be regarded as the greatest curse for a subject race and all lovers of freedom should take their stand on a broad socio-economic programme for the emancipation of the masses, which will cut across provincial and communal divisions.

Fourthly, our strategy should be directed towards laying down and strengthening the basis of a broad anti-impeialist front of workers, peasants and middle class. A united front of all anti-imperialist forces in the country under the aegis of the Indian National Congress for effecting the political and economic libeation of our hungry and enslaved millions is the supreme need of the hour. Last but not least, the method of our struggle should be confined in the limits of non-violent non-cooperation.

[From an address at a public reception in Calcutta, April 6, 1937—published in The Calcutta Municipal Gazette]

This is Subhas Chandra Bose speaking to you over the Azad Hind Radio.

For about a year I have waited in silence and patience for the march of events and now that the hour has struck, I come forward to speak.

The fall of Singapore means the collapse of the British Empire, the end of the iniquitous regime which it has symbolised and the dawn of a new era in Indian history. The Indian people who have long suffered from the humiliation of a foreign yoke and have been ruined spiritually, culturally, politically and economically while under British domination—must now offer their humble thanks to the Almighty for the auspicious event which bears for India the promise of life and freedom...

The outside world hears from time to time voices coming from India, claiming to speak either in the name of the Indian National Congress or of the Indian people. But these are voices coming through the channels of British propaganda and nobody should make the fatal mistake of regarding them as representative of Free India. As is natural in a land that has been under foreign domination, the British oppressors have endeavoured to create divisions among the Indian people... There is, however, the vast majority of the Indian people who will have no compromise with British Imperialism but will fight on till full independence is achieved. Owing to war-time conditions prevailing in India, the voice of these freedom-loving Indians cannot cross the frontiers of that country—but we who have fought for more than two decades for our national emancipation, know exactly what the vast majority of our countrymen think and feel today.

Standing at one of the cross-roads of world-history, I solemnly declare on behalf of all freedom-loving Indians in India and abroad that we shall continue to fight British Imperialism till India is once again the mistress of her own destiny. During this struggle and in the reconstruction that will follow, we shall heartily co-operate with all those who will help us in overthrowing the common enemy. I am confident that in this sacred struggle, the vast majority of the Indian people will be with us. No manoeuvre, intrigue or conspiracy on the part of the agents of Anglo-American Imperialism, however prominent they may be and to whichever nationality they may belong, can throw dust in the eyes of the Indian people or swerve them from the path of patriotic duty. The hour of India’s salvation is at hand. India will now rise and break the chains of servitude that have bound her so long. Through India’s liberation will Asia and the world move forward towards the larger goal of human emancipation.

[From the first broadcast to the world over Azad Hind Radio, February 19, 1942]