As India struggles being neck-deep in the quagmire of corruption and vested interests, a man 's birthday will quietly pass by. Many say he is the forgotten hero, but to some others he is the unspoken hero who has never got his due. Subhash Chandra Bose or Netaji as he is fondly called, if alive would have turned 114 today on Jan 23.
His contribution to the Indian freedom struggle is at par with the Mahatma, but still in the official circles he is never spoken of in the same vein as Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru or Sardar Vallabhai Patel. The man who quit the prestigious Indian Civil Service, risked his life to flee the nation to raise an armed struggle against the mighty British rulers of India certainly doesn't deserve the snub being meted out.
Though the West Bengal government is said to be celebrating the day as 'Desh Prem Divas', there still has been no initiative from the Central Government to mark the day as a special occasion. There are many far lesser mortals whose birthday is being celebrated as someday or the other but not of this man who for long fought a battle for independence on his own.
Government's apathy towards one of the greatest sons of India has many a times befuddled the billion plus population of the country, but no headway seems to have been achieved in making the man receive the glory he so rightly deserves. He doesn't have a political legacy to advocate his case in the corridors of power, but his actions and patriotism has for ever left an indelible imprint in the hearts of the common man who still love for what he managed to do.
Awards and recognisation can only externally accentuate the place that he has managed to build in the heart of every patriotic Indian, but the lack of them though immaterial to his followers does indeed present the government and the country in poor light.
Bose who advocated complete independence for India at the earliest as opposed to the All-India Congress Committee who wanted it in phases, through Dominion status was born on Jan 23, 1897 in Cuttack. Right from the very beginning he was a brilliant student aand fiercely patriotic.
As was the convention then he appeared for the Civil Services exams and passed out with flying colours. But serving the British was the last thing in his mind.
He worked with the Congress for long, but a difference of opinion with the leadership and the Congress' said failure to save Bhagat Singh from the gallows, prompted him to shun the path of non-violence and resort to radical methods of violence and armed struggle to depose the British from India.
Serving a house-arrest, he quite amazingly slipped from the ruthless British government and went from Hitler to Mussolini to seek their support in overthrowing the British from India. He persevered for long, before eventually managing to form the Indian National Army(INA) that consisted of the POWs of the World War. Limited in resources, his sharp rheteorics inspired thousands to fight for the independence of India. Such was his oratory skills and the fervour to liberate India that in no time, he managed to raise an army of more than a million who walked all the way from Japan to India forgoing food, water and proper rest. They had limited ammunition and the daunting prospect of facing a mighty army, but it was Netaji's sincere dedication that ensured the zeal never waivered.
After initial victory, they gradually began to loose, but not for once did they beat a retreat. Netaji is then said to have died in air-crash, when he was on his way to Japan to seek arms and ammunition. His death in the crash is still under mystery. Some say he survived it but never returned to India where his contribution to the struggle for independence was meted out with indifference.
His death is shrouded in mystery, but those who have keenly followed his life are unwilling to accept the stories and have ever since been pressurising successive governments to make public the enquiry reports of his death probe. As to why it has still not been done does only add credence to the stories of him being alive after the crash and living a life in disguise.
Such is the extent of people's love for him, that most believe he didn't die then and continued to live in disguise because he was too ashamed of the state of affairs in the country, especially the rampant corruption that existed and continues to do even now.
His death not withstanding he still lives in the conscience of a billion Indians and whether his birthday is commemorated officially or not, there will still be millions who will pay homage to the great man and thank God for giving them birth in a country where once lived a soul so noble and a heart so patriotic.