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 Subhas Chandra Bose (1897 - 1945)
Bose, Subhas Chandra (1897-1945), Indian nationalist leader, who during World War II led an Indian national army against the British and established an independent provisional government of Azad Hind (Free India). He was popularly known as "Netaji," (Hindi for "revered leader").

Bose was born into a family of high-caste Bengalis in Cuttack, a city in what is now India's Orissa State but was then the Bengal Province of British India. Bose was the ninth child of Janaki Nath Bose, a lawyer and government legal official, and Prabhabati Dutt Bose.

Bose attended Presidency College at the University of Calcutta but was expelled in 1915 for complicity in the beating of a British professor who many students felt had maligned Indians.
A year later Bose was admitted to Scottish Churches College, also at the University of Calcutta, and graduated with highest honors in philosophy in 1919. At the urging of his father, Bose then went to England, where he studied at the University of Cambridge and prepared for the Indian Civil Service examination. He passed the examination in 1920 but resigned from the service to join the Indian nationalist movement. Bose was personally friendly to some British people, but from his early years he passionately hated the British Raj (British rule in India), and his central concern throughout his life was to bring British rule to an end.

After returning to Calcutta in 1921, Bose met Mohandas Gandhi, then the leader of the Indian National Congress (a political organization working for Indian self-government). On Gandhi's advice, Bose went to work with Chittaranjan Das, the Congress leader for Bengal Province. Appointed chief executive officer of Calcutta's municipal government in 1924, Bose worked to foster peaceful relations between Hindus and Muslims and to improve civic life. Soon, however, he was jailed for suspected involvement in acts of violence against the British Raj. No formal charges were made and no trial took place, but Bose served about three years in jail, two of them in British-controlled Mandalay, Burma (now Myanmar). He was released in 1927 for health reasons. Das had died in 1925, and Bose quickly rose to replace his mentor as the leader for the Congress in Bengal Province. In 1928 he became a general secretary of the Indian National Congress and pressed Gandhi to move quickly and forcefully for complete Indian independence. Bose advocated a socialist program for India.

Some of the volunteers working under Bose at the 1928 Congress session later formed an underground revolutionary group called the Bengal Volunteers. Bose's ties to this group and their acts of violence, together with his mass following as a Congress leader, marked him to India's British rulers as a dangerous man. Bose's extremism also troubled Gandhi, whose commitment to nonviolent methods was unswerving.

Bose was in and out of jail between 1930 and 1933 and was elected mayor of Calcutta in 1930, while imprisoned. In 1933 he was released from jail on the condition that he leave India, and he spent most of the next four years in Europe, restoring his health. While there, he completed an account of Indian politics that he had begun in prison, titled The Indian Struggle, 1920-34 (published in 1935). He also wrote An Indian Pilgrim, a short autobiography not published until 1948. Based in Vienna, Bose advocated the cause of Indian nationalism abroad and visited many European countries. On a return visit to India in 1936, Bose was rearrested for breaking his exile. He was freed unconditionally in 1937 when his health again began to deteriorate.

In 1938, with Gandhi's blessing but not his confidence, Bose was elected president of the Indian National Congress. He formed the National Planning Committee of the Congress for the purpose of coordinating the industrialization of India. Bose decided to run for Congress president again the next year, against Gandhi's wishes. With the backing of the left (mostly Indian communists and socialists) and strong support in some provinces, Bose narrowly defeated Gandhi's candidate. He soon realized, however, that he could not run the Congress organization without Gandhi's support and so he resigned his presidency. Bose then formed the Forward Bloc, a pressure group within the Congress working for immediate direct action against the Raj.

Imprisoned again in 1940, Bose undertook a fast, refusing to eat until he was released. The British released him in December but placed him under house arrest. With World War II (1939-1945) under way, and convinced that the British would never leave India peacefully, Bose decided to flee India and collaborate with a foreign power hostile to the British. He hoped to recruit and train a military unit that would combine with forces within India to drive the British out by violent means. In January 1941 Bose slipped out of Calcutta, reached the Indian frontier, and walked into Afghanistan. With Italian, German, and Russian assistance, he traveled to Berlin, where he set up the Free India Center, a propaganda operation that made radio broadcasts to India. He also formed the Indian Legion, a small fighting force recruited from Indian prisoners of war taken in North Africa. German dictator Adolf Hitler proved uncooperative, however, and Bose was unhappy in Europe. In February 1943 Hitler allowed Bose to leave Germany for Southeast Asia.

Traveling by submarine and airplane, Bose reached Tokyo in the spring of 1943. There, with the support of Japanese prime minister Tojo Hideki, Bose assumed the leadership of the Indian National Army (INA). This force was composed of about 40,000 troops, mainly Indian prisoners of war captured in Singapore when it fell to the Japanese in 1942. The army was supported by the Free India League, a nationalist organization backed by the Indian community of Southeast Asia. Bose also recruited a regiment of women who were trained to fight. In October 1943 Bose established the Provisional Government of Azad Hind (Free India). The provisional government immediately declared war on the United States and Britain, and in January it located its capital in Japanese-occupied Yangon (Rangoon), Burma. Meanwhile, Bose worked diligently to promote harmony between Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs within his army and continued his radio broadcasts to India.

In early 1944 Bose induced the Japanese to invade India. Japanese and INA forces entered India in March, advancing to the outskirts of Imphal in the northeast. There, they besieged the British garrison until the beginning of the monsoon rains in June. The rainy season prevented further attack and gave the British time to reinforce their positions, and the British were able to turn back the invading army. In May 1945 the INA surrendered in Yangon. Bose escaped, making his way eventually to Japanese-occupied Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam). When Japan announced its surrender in August, Bose fled Southeast Asia. On the way, his plane crashed in Taiwan, and Bose died in a Japanese military hospital.
In the winter of 1945 the British put captured INA officers on trial for treason. Prominent Indian nationalist lawyers, including the leader of the Congress at that time, Jawaharlal Nehru, eloquently defended the accused. The INA officers became public heroes in India and received suspended sentences. After the trial, some Indian troops serving in the British military mutinied, further weakening Britain's hold on India. In 1947, within two years of Bose's death, India won its independence from Britain.
After his death, Bose's ashes were placed in a Buddhist temple in Tokyo. Many of his followers in India and Southeast Asia believed that Bose did not die but rather escaped, possibly to Soviet territory. For several decades after the war ended, the myth of Bose's return spread among Indians, who hoped that he would emerge to help India combat its many problems.
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