By | April 2, 2021

Subhash Chandra Bose


On January 23, 1897, Subhash Chandra Bose was born. His father was Rai Bahadur Janakinath Bose, a prominent lawyer of Cuttack, Orissa. His mother was Prabhavati Bose, a remarkable example of womanhood. Later, the world came to know him as Netaji. After completing his early studies at the European protestant collegiate school in Cuttack, he came to Calcutta to study at Presidency College in 1913.

Upon completing his Graduation, he left India for England to appear at the Indian civil service examination, but he was reluctant to work under the British Government. He resigned and returned to India on the call of Chittaranjan Das.

Subhash Chandra Bose felt that young militant groups could be molded into a military arm of the freedom movement and used to further the cause. Gandhi ji opposed this Ideology because it directly, conflicted with his policy of ahimsa (non – violence). The British Government in India perceived Subhash Chandra Bose as a potential source of danger and arrested him without any charge on October 25, 1924. He was sent to Alipore Jail, Calcutta and in January 25, 1925 transferred to Mandalay, Burma.

He was released from Mandalay in May, 1927 due to ill health. Upon return to Calcutta. He was elected president of the Bengal congress committee on October 27, 1927. Subhash Chandra Bose was one of the few politicians who sought and worked towards Hindu- Muslims unity on the basis of respect of each community‘s rights. Being a man of ideals, he believed in Independence from the social evils of religious discord.


In the period between the two world wars, Gandhi was the most powerful force within the congress, and it’s probably fair to say, in nationalist politics. These tactics involved an emphasis on non-violence, and a vacillation between non-cooperation and active participation. There were few challenges to this approach outside the congress.

The terrorist carried on in certain areas of the country, especially Bengal, but they were, at the most, a nuisance. By the time of the World War 2, it had long become evident that elite terrorism was not going to inspire a popular revolution. After Gandhi came along and demonstrated how a popular movement might be generated, the terrorist became even less relevant. The challenge to the predominance of Gandhi and Gandhian   tactics in Indian nationalism came from within the congress.

It came from a man named Subhash Chandra Bose, who, at the height of his political influence, was one of the two or three most powerful leaders in the congress. Gandhi certainly saw Bose as a rival and a dangerous upstart, and did his best to destroy him politically whereas Gandhi sought compromises with the British, Bose sought absolute victories. Gandhi was willing to wait a long time for independence; Bose wanted immediate action, if not immediate results.

Gandhi was anti-materialistic and hostile to modern technology; Bose saw technology and mass production as essential to survival and dignity. Gandhi wanted a decentralized society and disliked the modern state; Bose wanted a strong central government and saw the modern state as the only solution to India’s problems, and finally, Bose did not share Gandhi’s dedication to non-violence.


  • Great spirits have always encountered violent oppositions from mediocre minds.
  • Albert Einstein

Youth and Education

Subhash Chandra Bose came from an upper –class Bengali family. He was the ninth child in a big, busy family; but his parents were aloof, and he grew up as a loner. He was a voracious reader, and he was especially attracted to the writings  of the 19th ~ century Hindu social reformer, swami Vivekananda. From Vivekananda he picked up a desire to take India, especially Hindu India, back to an idealized past in which Indians had been strong, moral and free.

As he grew older, and became interested in socialism, as he lost the interest in mythical golden ages and his overtly Hindu outlook. He kept his determination to do something about what he saw as social injustice towards low-caste groups, the poor, and woman. He was a brilliant student, and became active in student politics at Calcutta’s presidency college.

In those wartime years, the university offered military training to students who were interested (sort of like the ROTC today), and Subhash Chandra Bose eagerly signed up. But unlike Gandhi, who also had military experience, he did not join because he saw it as his duty to the Empire. He joined because he believed military training was an important part of a nationalist’s education. He fervently believed that India, and especially Hindus, had become politically subjugated because of their military weakness.

If the nation was to be free and worthy of respect, he felt, its citizens must know how to fight. Also at Presidency College he had one of his first direct encounters with the British. He became involved in an assault by students on a British professor, and was kicked out of the school. This incident have since become one of the  major myths of Indian nationalism, with Bose presented as the hero and Edward oaten, the professor, presented as a racist villain.

The truth is probably not so clear-cut .what is more likely is that oaten was tactless, and, Bose was hot-headed. A sense of humour was not one of Bose’s strong points; he tended to be touchy and took everything very seriously. He eventually graduated from Scottish church college in Calcutta (after his father pulled a few strings to get him admitted), and was then packed off to England by his family to prepare for the ICS (Indian Civil Service) exams. He arrived in England in 1919, at an age of 23 years.

It’s interesting to compare Bose’s English experience with Gandhi’s. Bose was probably a bit less socially isolated than Gandhi had been when he had first arrived; there were more Indians around for him to spend time with. As with Gandhi, the time Bose spent in England made a deep impression on his thinking.

Like Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose became something of a dandy in England, always wearing expensive, perfectly pressed clothes. And like Gandhi, Bose became more conscious of his Indian identity when he was in England.

But there were some very significant differences, as well. Gandhi did not become a nationalist while he was in England. Later. Gandhi’s nationalism developed solely over the decades, and if we had to look for pivotal movement we would have to find them in South Africa and later in jallianwalla bagh.

Subhash Chandra Bose arrived in England as a budding nationalist, and as somebody who was very conscious, and very resentful, of the racial basis of British rule in India. In England, he wrote one of his friends: “nothing makes me happier than to be served by the whites and to watch them clean my shoes.” in England, Bose‘s nationalism became more clearly defined, and more militant than it had been before.

At the same time, he killed England society ,the freedom of expression , the debates in parliament and at the university, the fact that students weren’t shadowed by the police. It made him acutely aware of how different life was in colonial India. Also, there was a lot that Bose admired about the British in England. He found them efficient and energetic , he appreciated their sense of a national interest, and what he saw as their can-do attitude.

These qualities – efficiency, energy, discipline, a sense of punctuality- are all central to modern industrial society, and they became central to Subhash Chandra Bose’s vision of what India should be like. He did very well in the ICS exams, and then faced a dilemma that had, by the 1920’s, become common for Indian nationalists. he decided to stay away from the IAS.

Quite apart from his qualms about the Indian Civil Service, there was another major factor that influenced his decision. He was one of those people who desperately needed a father –figure in his life. Ever since he had been a child, he had attached himself to the teachers and to various swamis, hoping to find somebody who could be a combination of spiritual advisor, political mentor, and intellectual guide.

For him, who was already leaning towards a career’ in nationalism politics, one possible choice might have been Gandhi, who served those functions for Nehru. But he never developed this intimacy with Gandhi. He admired Gandhi, but the philosophical differences were too great.




  • The ability to accept responsibility is the measure of the man.
  • Roy L Smith


Political Career

As Subhash Chandra Bose resigned from the Indian Civil Service, he finally found his father- figure. C.R Das, who was one of those nationalist lawyer –politician’s active in the congress. In some ways, C.R. Das was a curious choice of mentor for a hot-headed extremist like Subhash Chandra Bose. C.R. Das was the ultimate politician.

He believed in building an administrative organization within the framework of the colonial government, and running that independently. He did not look for revolution; rather like Mahatma Gandhi, he believed in a gradual process of piecemeal concessions.

Like Mahatma Gandhi, he had responded to the rowlatt acts by throwing himself into the non-cooperation movement. He had abandoned his legal practice and his western suits, and adopting khadi and frugality, although he was never quite as frugal as Mahatma Gandhi. Subhash Chandra Bose was drawn to C.R Das primarily the latter’s personal sacrifices.

At a psychological level, C.R Das- with his social, cultural and professional background –was sufficiently like Subhash Chandra Bose’s own father. Subhash Chandra Bose wrote to C.R Das, offering his services, and boldly outlining his own ideas of how to build a nationalist organisation. Congress, he wrote, should have a permanent house. It should come up with a set of policies for all of India, including the princely states, it should have policies for improving the conditions of low –caste groups, with its own research and intelligence wing, and a well- organized public relations system.


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