BOSE OR GANDHI Who Got India Her Freedom?
With A New Postscript
G D Bakshi
This book seeks to answer a seminal question about Nation state formation in Post colonial India, “Who got us our Freedom and how?” Was it due to the violence of Bose and His INA- or was it due to the peaceful and non-violent agitation of Mahatma Gandhi? Where we are going depends a lot on where we came from. The author has painstakingly analysed the documents now available in the British Transfer of Power Archives. He has methodically identified the key British decision makers in London and New Delhi in the critical period from 1945-1947, and examined their letters and reports about the INA trials and their violent aftermath (November-December 1945) and then the mutiny in the Royal Indian Navy (February 1946). Relevant letters from the Viceroy and military appreciation of the situation by Fd Mshl Auchinleck, alongwith reports from the Governors of the various provinces, as also the report of the Director IB, have been reproduced in the original alongwith Letters from the Prime minister Lord Clement Attlee and Secretary of state for India, Pethik Lawerence. The documentary paper trail is chillingly clear. The British were shaken by the wide spread violence in support of the INA and the serious question mark it raised about the continued loyalty of some 2.5 million Indian soldiers then being de-mobilized after the war. There were less than 40,000 British troops in India then. They were war-weary and home-sick. How could they have quelled a revolt by 2.5 million combat hardened Indian Soldiers? It was this stark maths that forced the British to leave when they did. Nelson Mandela in South Africa, continued with the non-violent methods of the Mahatma. Unfortunately South Africa got its freedom only in April 1994. The unfortunate fact is that the British left but handed over power to an anglophile elite that faithfully carried on with the narratives and constructs of the Raj. This narrative strongly coloured nation state formation in India for it started with the a priori British assumption that India never was a nation state - just a warring cauldron of castes and creeds. Caste today is sadly the basis of all politics in Independent India. They wiped out all mention of Bose and his INA, and pacified the state in a manner that would ensure that India never became a major military power. Did the British deliberately induce the legacy of pacifism to ensure that like post-war Germany and Japan, India would never become a formidable military power?
Did India become a nation only in 1947?
A Postscript has been added to bring the book up to date.