Subhash Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack, Orissa, into an affluent Bengali family. His father, a public prosecutor, ensured that Subhash received a top-notch education at institutions like Scottish Church College in Calcutta and Fitzwilliam College at Cambridge University. In 1920, upon the urging of his parents, Bose took the prestigious Indian Civil Service exam and achieved the fourth highest score.
During the time when Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement was spreading throughout the nation, Bose left his position in the ICS in April 1921 to participate in the fight for freedom alongside his fellow countrymen. He became part of the young division of the Congress Party and quickly advanced in the party’s ranks due to his impressive public speaking and leadership abilities. In his early years, Bose considered Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das as his political mentor. Throughout a period of 20 years, Bose was imprisoned a total of eleven times by the British, with his first imprisonment occurring in 1921.
In 1924, Bose was exiled to Mandalay in Burma after a brief period of incarceration. He was imprisoned again in 1930 and deported to Europe. During his stay in Europe from 1933 to 1936, Bose passionately advocated for Indian freedom while meeting prominent European statesmen. In 1937, he married his secretary Emilie Schenkl. Bose served as president of the Indian National Congress twice (1938 and 1939) but stepped down after disagreements with Mahatma Gandhi, forming a progressive group called the Forward Block.
The Second World War began in 1939 and Bose initiated a mass civil disobedience movement to oppose the Viceroy’s decision to declare war on behalf of India. Despite being imprisoned, Bose’s hunger strike led to his subsequent placement under house arrest. Exploiting the leniency of the house guards and with assistance from his cousin Sishir Bose, Subhash successfully evaded capture and crossed enemy territories to reach Moscow.
Bose attempted to gain support from Nazi Germany, but due to Hitler and other German leaders’ indifference, he left for Japan and took over leadership of the Indian National Army (INA), which was founded by Rash Behari Bose. With assistance from the Japanese forces, the INA attacked British forces in Manipur and Nagaland in northeastern India and raised the National Flag in Moirang, Manipur. However, following Japan’s defeat, the INA’s invasion quickly faltered, and Netaji was forced to retreat to Malaya. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose supposedly died in a plane crash over Taiwan while en route to Tokyo on August 18, 1945. Bose’s Philosophy
The principles and philosophy of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose played a crucial role in his decision to engage in armed revolution during the later years of his political career. At first, Bose adhered to the Gandhian approach to the freedom movement. However, after spending several years in exile and gaining wisdom with age through his travels in European countries, Bose became disillusioned with the methods employed by the Indian National Congress. His intense hostility towards the British was deeply rooted, leading him to passionately advocate for the immediate expulsion of the colonial rulers from Indian land.
Dissatisfied with how some Congress leaders were lenient towards the British, Bose became more convinced that the dream of attaining freedom would never become a reality as long as the British remained in power. He believed that peaceful protests would not be enough to remove the British. When discussing his vision for a free India, Subhash Chandra Bose stated that a socialist authoritarian system would be necessary to eliminate poverty and social inequalities in a diverse country like India. He openly supported the idea of an authoritarian government similar to that of Soviet Russia and Kemal Ataturk’s Turkey.
Bose also supported socialism and believed that industrialization and Soviet-style five-year plans were crucial for the development of India. The Indian National Army (INA) represented Bose’s transition from a nonviolent freedom fighter following Gandhi’s principles to an armed revolutionary challenging the strength of the British Empire. Initially proposed by expatriate nationalist leader Rash Behari Bose, Subhash Chandra Bose took over as the supreme commander of the INA in 1943.
Bose energetically and passionately worked to strengthen the young organization and announced the Provisional Government of Free India in Singapore on October 21, 1943. The Indian National Army, also called the Azad Hind Fauj, pledged loyalty to the Provisional Government, which was acknowledged by nine Axis countries. The INA had a military force of 40,000 soldiers, primarily consisting of Indian expatriates in South Asia and Indian prisoners of war. Additionally, the INA proudly included a unique women’s combat unit known as the Rani of Jhansi regiment.
During the Japanese offensive in Burma, the Azad Hind Fauj soldiers actively participated and assisted in various victories on the frontlines. Prior to this, in December 1943, the Azad Hind government had successfully established its authority over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and renamed them as Shaheed (Martyr) and Swaraj (Self-rule). On 18 April 1944, the INA troops seized control of Moirang in Manipur and proudly hoisted an Indian tricolor, symbolizing their unwavering patriotism.
Despite relying on Japanese troops for weapons and logistical support, the Indian National Army (INA) encountered major obstacles. As the Japanese forces grew weaker, the INA was compelled to retreat as well. When Japan surrendered, the INA’s resistance efforts crumbled, resulting in the British arresting many officers and soldiers. Initially detained at Delhi’s Red Fort for trial, widespread protests and mutinies within the British Indian Army ultimately forced the government to give in.
Subhash Chandra utilized his adept public speaking abilities to motivate the soldiers of the Indian National Army. At a gathering of Indians in Burma on July 4, 1944, Bose famously declared, “Give me blood, and I shall give you freedom.” The phrase “Delhi Chalo,” also accredited to him, became the rallying cry for the INA fighters as they advanced towards Indian territory. Born on January 23, 1897, and passing away on August 18, 1945, Bose achieved numerous milestones including successfully clearing the Indian Civil Services Exam, serving as the President of the Congress party in 1938 and 1939, establishing a new political party called All India Forward block, and organizing the Azad Hind Fauj to overthrow the British Empire from India.
Subhas Chandra Bose, also known as Netaji, was a prominent leader in the Indian freedom movement. Despite Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru receiving much recognition for the successful culmination of the struggle, Subash Chandra Bose’s contribution should not be overlooked. Unfortunately, he has not been given the rightful acknowledgement in Indian history.
Bose established the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) with the aim of overthrowing the British Empire in India, and became a legendary figure among the Indian population. He was born on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack, Orissa.
Subhas Chandra Bose was born to Janaki Nath Bose and Prabhavati Devi. He was the ninth child in a family of fourteen siblings. From an early age, he showed exceptional academic prowess, excelling in the matriculation examination of Calcutta province and earning a First-class degree in Philosophy from the Scottish Churches College in Calcutta. Throughout his time as a student, he was deeply influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings and became known for his strong patriotism. In 1919, he fulfilled his parents’ wishes by traveling to England to compete for the Indian Civil Services.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose participated in the Indian Civil Service competitive examination in 1920 while he was in England. He achieved fourth place in terms of merit. However, witnessing the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre deeply impacted him, leading him to abruptly terminate his Civil Services apprenticeship and return to India in 1921. Once back home, he joined forces with Mahatma Gandhi and became a member of the Indian National Congress. Following Gandhi’s guidance, Bose started collaborating with Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, whom he later acknowledged as his political mentor.
Soon he demonstrated his leadership skills and climbed the ranks within the Congress party. In 1928, the Congress-appointed Motilal Nehru Committee declared support for Domination Status, but Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru opposed it, asserting that they would only be content with full independence for India. Subhas also established the Independence League. Subhas Chandra Bose was imprisoned during the Civil Disobedience movement in 1930, but was released in 1931 following the signing of the Gandhi-Irwin pact.
Subash Chandra Bose expressed his disapproval of the Gandhi-Irwin pact and objected to the halt of the Civil Disobedience movement, especially after Bhagat Singh and his comrades were executed. Soon after, he was once again apprehended due to the notorious Bengal Regulation. However, he was granted release on medical grounds after a year and forced to leave India for Europe. Bose made efforts to establish centers in various European capitals to foster political and cultural connections between India and Europe. Despite being prohibited from entering India, he defied the ban and returned, resulting in his arrest and imprisonment for another year.
After the 1937 General Elections, Congress gained power in seven states and Subhash Chandra Bose was released. Shortly after his release, he was elected as the President of the Haripura Congress Session in 1938. During his term as Congress President, he emphasized the importance of planning and subsequently established a National Planning Committee in October of that same year. In early 1939, the presidential election for the Tripuri Congress session took place and Subhas Chandra Bose was elected for a second term, defeating Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya who had received support from Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress Working Committee.
Clouds of World War II loomed in the distance when he presented a resolution, demanding that the British transfer control of India to its people within six months. If this condition went unfulfilled, a revolt would ensue. Many opposed his inflexible stance, prompting his resignation as president and the formation of a progressive group called the Forward Block. Subhas Chandra Bose then initiated a mass movement, urging against the use of Indian resources and manpower in the war. His call received a overwhelming response, resulting in his confinement under house arrest in Calcutta. In January 1941, Subhas
Chandra Bose vanished from his residence in Calcutta and made his way to Germany through Afghanistan. Operating on the notion that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” he sought collaboration with Germany and Japan against the British Empire. Starting in January 1942, he initiated his regular broadcasts from Radio Berlin, which stirred immense enthusiasm in India. In July 1943, he arrived in Singapore after leaving Germany. While in Singapore, he assumed control of the Indian Independence Movement in East Asia from Rash Behari Bose and formed the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army), primarily composed of Indian prisoners of war.
Netaji, known as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, led the Azad Hind Fauj in their mission to free India from British rule. They successfully liberated the Andaman and Nicobar Islands during their journey. The Indian National Army (INA) headquarters were moved to Rangoon in January 1944. On March 18, 1944, the Azad Hind Fauj crossed the Burma Border and entered Indian territory. However, due to Japan and Germany’s defeat in World War II, the INA had to retreat without achieving its objective. It is believed that Subhas Chandra Bose died on August 18, 1945, in an air crash over Taiwan (Formosa).
Despite the popular belief that he survived the airplane crash, there is limited information available about him. The archivist, who was generally skeptical of journalists such as myself, anticipated my curiosity in sensational tales concerning why numerous individuals believed Bose had not perished and would eventually reemerge. Contrary to his expectations, I informed him of my fascination with Bose’s endeavors throughout his life and my eagerness to publish a comprehensive biography by utilizing all the untapped resources stored in the archives—an endeavor never before achieved.
Later when I encountered Uttam Chandra Malhotra, who had provided refuge to Subhas Bose in Kabul during his escape from India, I mentioned to him in 1977 that Subhas Bose would be around 80 years old and even if he were to reappear, he would be considerably elderly. In response, Malhotra stated, “But he is Krishna. He could live up to 150 years. He is immortal!” This remark reaffirmed my belief that I should search for a Subhas Bose who was a remarkable Indian patriot, but not a divine Krishna. Instead, I sought a mortal man with both virtues and flaws.
By a stroke of luck rather than strategic planning, I had fortuitously chosen the optimal moment to explore the topic of Bose. The implementation of the thirty-year rule initiated by Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister of Britain, resulted in the declassification of documents pertaining to Bose during the 1940s. India had emulated the British approach and, during the 1970s, there were numerous individuals still alive who possessed firsthand knowledge of Bose and had collaborated with him. Interestingly, within a year of my book being published, there was a sudden and significant surge of interest in Bose.
Although I like to believe that my book was a contributing factor, the reality is that external circumstances were responsible. Richard Attenborough released his film about Gandhi, and Granada aired a television series called Jewel in the Crown, which adapted Paul Scott’s Raj novels. These novels depicted the final years of British rule in India and featured mentions of Bose and his Indian National Army. Granada anticipated that their viewers might be confused by these references and therefore, prior to the start of the Jewel in the Crown series, they broadcasted a documentary to introduce British audiences to Bose.
A lady, who was quite pleasant, came to visit me after reading my book. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant in Islington, where she picked my brain. In the twenty years since then, there has been a substantial growth in the Subhas Bose industry. Two more television documentaries about him have been made in the UK, and now Shyam Benegal has produced a film called The Last Hero, which is not very different from the title I gave the first edition of my book, The Lost Hero. Additionally, the Netaji Research Bhavan, which had published three volumes of Bose’s Collected Works when my book was printed, has now released nine more volumes.
New material, including intimate letters between Bose and his wife Emilie, has been brought into the light. Major Iwaichi Fujiwara, an idealist Japanese intelligence officer who fathered the first Indian National Army, published his memoirs shortly after the release of my book. Subsequently, others with firsthand knowledge of Bose and his life and times also shared their experiences. Additionally, the British government, which was in the middle of publishing the Transfer of Power Papers twenty years ago, has successfully completed this monumental task.
Milan Hauner’s unpublished manuscript, which I had consulted for my study of the Axis strategy during World War II, has now been published and is considered the definitive source on the Axis perspective of the Indian freedom movement. Since then, several authors, both Indian and foreign, particularly Americans, have published their own books on different aspects of Bose. These publications would have made it necessary for me to revisit my book. However, the recent release of formerly classified material on Bose has made it absolutely imperative for me to do so.
The classified papers of the Indian Political Intelligence (IPI), also known as the Raj’s MI5, have been deemed highly valuable. These papers were released during India’s fiftieth year of independence. As the first author to thoroughly examine IPI’s Bose files, I have gained insight into the Raj’s claim that Bose was a revolutionary and leader of the Indian terrorist movement. Moreover, these files reveal the extent to which the Raj feared him. They closely monitored Bose from the beginning of his political career until his demise. It is noteworthy that the British have refused to release a letter from these files, which has been a subject of interest in the recent judicial inquiry into Bose’s death.
The Public Record Office in London has released other classified documents regarding Bose and the Second World War. These documents include the confession of Bose associates such as Bhagat Ram Talwar to the Raj’s police. The release of these documents sheds new light on the war years and challenges our previous understanding of that time period. It is no longer possible to rely on Talwar’s self-serving memoir, as these documents provide fascinating details about how the British followed Bose’s journey from Germany to Japan via submarine. There is even evidence to suggest that the British considered picking him up.
Newly released documents from the Soviet archives have uncovered previously undisclosed information regarding the complex connections between Britain, Russia, and the Axis powers throughout World War II. To integrate this valuable data into my book, I have added three additional chapters and made revisions to existing ones. While these findings do not fundamentally alter our perception of Bose, they significantly enhance our understanding of his life and the historical context in which he operated. In essence, this new material provides a deeper insight into Bose’s political and revolutionary endeavors before and during the war in comparison to when my book was originally published in 1982.
In addition, I have chosen to give my book a different title: Raj, Spies, Rebellion, The Life and Times of Subhas Chandra Bose. By focusing more on his experiences, we are able to gain a deeper understanding of the extraordinary man Subhas Bose was, and the significant impact he had on his era. My decision to write about Subhas Bose originally stemmed from a conversation I had with William Miller, an incredibly remarkable publisher, one autumn evening in 1976. Over drinks at a pub on Goodge Street, I shared the Bose story with him, which captivated his interest and ultimately resulted in him offering me a book contract.
During this edition, I have accumulated additional debts. It has resulted in me reconnecting with Milan Hauner, and I am extremely grateful for his valuable insights and the generosity with which he has shared them with me. I have also had the privilege of getting to know Hugh Toye, who possesses an extensive collection of materials pertaining to Bose and the Second World War at his Wheatley residence. Toye, an extraordinary British intelligence officer, never had the opportunity to meet Bose himself but did interrogate members of the INA. Hugh has graciously stated that he believes my biography on Bose is the finest.
The text eloquently showcases his immense generosity and unwavering politeness towards my numerous requests for his time. Even at the impressive age of 87, he exhibits a remarkable grasp on facts and details, demonstrating his exceptional capabilities. When I was a young boy in Bombay, I avidly read his book titled “Springing Tiger,” which delves into Bose’s activities during wartime. I eagerly anticipate the release of its revised edition. Despite not being directly related to Subhas Bose, my family hails from east Bengal while his hails from the west. Growing up in Bombay, I, a child born at midnight, held a deep awareness of him.
Being in business with his youngest brother Sailesh, my father has a close relationship with the Bose family. His wife is also best friends with my mother. Furthermore, their son attended college with me, allowing me to have extensive knowledge about the Bose family history. In 1961, I even had the privilege of meeting Subhas’s daughter Anita Bose when she visited our house in Bombay while touring India. As I conducted research for this edition, I was able to reconnect with Anita and meet her husband Martin, who both provided invaluable assistance.
I want to express my gratitude to archivists and librarians around the world for their assistance in helping me find the necessary material. I will forever be grateful for the kindness shown by my uncle Dhiren, whose MP’s flat in Delhi provided a comforting environment during my research. Philip Knightley not only wrote the foreword for this edition but also introduced me to Susan and Colin Chapman, who bravely took on the challenge of publishing this book. Ashok Kumar’s encouragement and advice were always there to motivate me, and Daljit Sebhai was consistently helpful.
Diane Clarkson helped me find a way to scan my first edition, which was printed before computers. Nicky Braganza and Alyson Hazelwood were also very helpful, and my brother-in-law Tapan found material that provided new information about Bose. Most of all, I am indebted to my wife Caroline, who had to revise her understanding of Raj history in order to understand Subhas Bose. Her ability to assimilate new information and her grasp of diverse subjects is truly remarkable, and she has managed all of this with good humor.
The biography on Subhas Chandra Bose, titled “Raj, Spies, Rebellion: The Life and Times of Subhas Chandra Bose,” was released by the UK publisher Grice Chapman in September 2004. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, the founder of the Indian National Army and an Indian freedom fighter, traveled to London before India gained independence to discuss India’s future with members of the Labor party. However, his sudden disappearance from Taiwan sparked various speculations about his survival.
Life Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was born on 23 January, 1897 in Cuttack (Orissa) to Janakinath Bose and Prabhavati Devi. Subhash was the ninth child among eight brothers and six sisters. His father, Janakinath Bose, was an affluent and successful lawyer in Cuttack and received the title of “Rai Bahadur”. He, later became a member of the Bengal Legislative Council. Subhash Chandra Bose excelled as a student and earned his B. A. degree in Philosophy from the Presidency College in Calcutta.
He was heavily influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings and was renowned for his strong sense of patriotism as a student. He also revered Vivekananda as his spiritual Guru. Subhash, after reading numerous accounts of the mistreatment of fellow Indians by the British, decided to seek revenge. In 1916, it is reported that Subhash physically assaulted one of his British teachers, E F Otten. The professor had made a racially offensive comment towards Indian students. Consequently, Bose was expelled from Presidency College and barred from Calcutta University. This incident led to Subhash being labeled as a rebellious Indian.
Bose was arrested in December 1921 for organizing a boycott of the celebrations during the Prince of Wales’s visit to India. Despite ranking fourth with high marks in English in the Indian Civil Service Examination, he chose to resign from the prestigious position as his strong desire to participate in the freedom movement led him back to India. He then left home and became an active member of India’s struggle for independence.
Subhash Chandra Bose later joined the Indian National Congress and became its president. At first, he worked under the leadership of Chittaranjan Das, a prominent member of Congress in Calcutta. In 1922, along with Motilal Nehru, Chittaranjan Das left Congress and established the Swaraj Party. Subhash regarded Chittaranjan Das as his political mentor. While Chittaranjan Das concentrated on formulating national strategies, Subhash Chandra Bose played a vital role in educating the students, youths, and laborers of Calcutta.
He eagerly anticipated witnessing India as an independent, federal, and republican nation. Many in the Congress recognized Bose’s name and linked him to the freedom movement. Bose had become a beloved youth leader, admired for his impressive organizational abilities. During the Guwahati Session of the Congress in 1928, a disagreement arose between the old and new members. The younger leaders sought “complete self-rule with no compromise,” while the older leaders supported “dominion status for India within British rule.”
The differences between moderate Gandhi and aggressive Subhash Chandra Bose were escalating. The tension was so high that Bose had to defeat Gandhiji’s nominated presidential candidate, Pattabhi Sitaramayya. Although Bose won the election, he immediately resigned from the party. In 1939, he formed the Forward Bloc. In September, 1939, during the Second World War, Bose decided to begin a mass movement, uniting people from across the country. His call received an overwhelming response, leading to his imprisonment by the British.
Incarcerated, he refused sustenance for approximately two weeks. As his physical well-being declined, with concerns of potential violent upheaval throughout the nation, the authorities placed him on house arrest. While confined to his residence in January 1941, Subhash executed a premeditated escape. Initially traveling to Gomoh in Bihar, he then proceeded to Peshawar (now Pakistan). Eventually reaching Germany, he had a meeting with Adolf Hitler. Bose had been residing in Berlin with his wife Emilie Schenkl. In 1943, Bose departed for Southeast Asia and organized an army, later designated the Indian National Army (INA). Journey to England
During his time in England, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had meetings with influential individuals including leaders of the British Labor Party such as Clement Attlee, Arthur Greenwood, Harold Laski, G. D. H. Cole, and Sir Stafford Cripps. These meetings were focused on discussions about the future of India. Notably, India gained independence while the Labor Party was in power (1945-1951) under Prime Minister Attlee. Despite widespread belief that Bose died in a plane crash, his body was never found, leading to various theories surrounding his mysterious disappearance.
The Indian government formed multiple committees to probe the case and reveal the truth. In May 1956, the Shah Nawaz Committee went to Japan to investigate Bose’s supposed death. Since they didn’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, they did not seek their government’s help. The Justice Mukherjee Commission submitted reports in Parliament on May 17, 2006, stating that “Bose did not die in the plane crash and the ashes at Renkoji temple are not his.” However, despite these findings, the Indian government disregarded them.