His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India's Struggle against Empire

His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India's Struggle against Empire

Sugata Bose

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 0674065964

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The man whom Indian nationalists perceived as the “George Washington of India” and who was President of the Indian National Congress in 1938–1939 is a legendary figure. Called Netaji (“leader”) by his countrymen, Subhas Chandra Bose struggled all his life to liberate his people from British rule and, in pursuit of that goal, raised and led the Indian National Army against Allied Forces during World War II. His patriotism, as Gandhi asserted, was second to none, but his actions aroused controversy in India and condemnation in the West.

Now, in a definitive biography of the revered Indian nationalist, Sugata Bose deftly explores a charismatic personality whose public and private life encapsulated the contradictions of world history in the first half of the twentieth century. He brilliantly evokes Netaji’s formation in the intellectual milieu of Calcutta and Cambridge, probes his thoughts and relations during years of exile, and analyzes his ascent to the peak of nationalist politics. Amidst riveting accounts of imprisonment and travels, we glimpse the profundity of his struggle: to unite Hindu and Muslim, men and women, and diverse linguistic groups within a single independent Indian nation. Finally, an authoritative account of his untimely death in a plane crash will put to rest rumors about the fate of this “deathless hero.”

This epic of a life larger than its legend is both intimate, based on family archives, and global in significance. His Majesty’s Opponent establishes Bose among the giants of Indian and world history.

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something” to which they had “an inherent right” but of which they had been “unjustly deprived.”47 Civilian Indians, as colonial subjects, had been deprived of the right to bear arms ever since the failure of the great rebellion of 1857. The forcible disarming of the populace still rankled. As the B.A. examinations drew closer, Subhas turned his attention from soldiering to study. He received first-Â�class honors in philosophy and placed second in the university’s order of merit. He was awarded

German and Japanese submarines in early 1943 had brought him to Southeast Asia. The taint of Axis collaboration and negative wartime proÂ�paÂ�ganda had definitively sullied his image in the West. In the South Asian subcontinent, by contrast, Bose was a great A Flaming Sword Forever Unsheathed 7 popular hero—the object of almost blind and uncritical adulation, on a par with Mahatma Gandhi. Indians never had any difÂ�fiÂ�culty in combining reverence for saints with admiration for

choice before the world between “some form of Communism and some form of Fascism” and declared himself to be “all for” communism. “There is no middle road between Fascism and Communism,” he asserted. “One has to choose between the two and I choose the Communist ideal.” Bose believed Nehru’s view to be “fundamentally wrong” and saw no reason to hold that the choice was “restricted to two alternatives.” Whether one adhered to a Hegelian or Bergsonian theory of evolution, the end of hisÂ�tory and

stopped—Venice, Athens, Cairo, and Baghdad. He had just enough time to see the Acropolis and a few other ancient sites in Greece. In Cairo, he enjoyed visiting the pyramids, mosques, tombs, and especially the wonderful Tutankhamen Museum. “I am back again in the bosom of the East,” he happily informed Emilie from Egypt. “While coming from Athens, we flew above the clouds in the early morning and saw a gorgeous sunrise, which we can see only in the East.” In Baghdad he was thrilled to see “a

written to Emilie on January€ 16 from London, “the Diplomat no. C.K.€ 124 and the doctor’s watch no.€651 Square—both Omega. The lady’s watch (Longines) you cannot get there—I understand.” These were their wedding gifts, which they would exchange before he returned to India. He asked her to meet him at the Vienna airport on the morning of January€ 20, during his brief stopover from Prague to Rome. He cabled again from Prague on January€19: “Buy two watches meet aerodrome.” After their airport

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