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He was truly a unique phenomenon. A man who aroused thousands of Indians with his one resounding battle-cry of \\'Delhi Chalo". There was something in his words that went beyond mere words. There was passion. There was sincerity. There was confidence. He was the true Neta, one who was able to command the respect of his men. In his speech of the INA in Singapore of 5th July 1943, he said, "For the present, I can offer you nothing except hunger, thirst, privation, forced marches and death. But if you follow me in life and death…I shall lead you to victory and freedom." To this great man we must give due credit for he made heroes out of ordinary men, students, shopkeepers the common man. He formed the Balak Sena comprising of young boys and inculcated in them the sprit of patriotism, discipline and pride of being Indian.
His respect and belief in the womenfolk of our country led to the formation of woman\\'s regiment - The Rani of Jhansi Regiment - and it played an active part in the war. He told them, "…When I express my confidence that you are today prepared to fight and suffer for the sake of your mother land, I do not mean only to cajole you with empty words. I know the capabilities of our womanhood well. I can, therefore, say with certainty that there is no task which our women cannot undertake and no sacrifice and suffering which our women cannot undergo…". Under him the women never lagged behind anybody and along with the men folk they also faced lathi charge by the merciless British Police and faced privations of prison life, torture and humiliations. This army did the services of Florence Nightingale and fought fearlessly like the famous Joan of Arc.
Netaji also formed the Reconstruction Brigade where he hired doctors, lawyers, administrators and engineers and involved them in all activities in the freedom movement. He made arrangements with the Japanese authorities to send students to Japan for further training. I was among the 45 students selected by Netaji himself for the training. Till this day I treasure the moments spent with Netaji and my souvenirs include letters written by Netaji to us. He was able to mobilize not just resources but total involvement of all Indians. Such was his charisma. He was also able to restore the lost confidence of 40,000 demoralised soldiers who had surrendered to Japan. He found in them a wealth of conscience and in his own way prepared them for the ultimate sacrifice for the prestige of our country. They fought many heroic battle for which the present generation should be proud of.
He was very clear in his mind that the path he had adopted was strewn with difficulties and even death. He said, "…It does not matter who among us will live to see India Free. It is enough that India shall be free and that we shall give our all to make her free…". While the army could not march to Delhi victorious, it had succeeded in its intent of arousing the sentiments of the Indians in India and more important, the Indian soldiers in the British Indian Army. These men met their own countrymen in the battle field but on opposite sides. Seeing the courage and the spirit of sacrifice of the INA men, the Indian soldiers had a change of heart. They, who so far had pledged their allegiance to the British, now rose up in revolt. When these two and a half million Indian soldiers revolted, the British Army was thrown out of gear. Netaji\\'s giant suicide squad had done what it had set out for. While the INA had lost the war, they had won a moral victory. This revolt of the soldiers was followed by the RIN mutiny lead by courageous Punnu Khan. And then there was the public trial of the INA men at the Red Fort - an episode that spelled doom for the British. It was a disaster waiting to happen. The trial inflamed the passion of all Indians and the British realised, albeit late, that they had lost.
Netaji is truly one of the greatest leaders that India has ever produced. He was a man who was focused. India\\'s freedom was uppermost in his mind and nothing, absolutely nothing could come in between him and his cause. Not even his failing health or the fear of death. His single minded devotion to the cause of India\\'s liberation is truly a lesson for all of us to learn. He said, "…Let us all stand shoulder to shoulder and say with one heart and with one voice that our motto is, as Tennyson said through Ulysses, to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield." This became his credo. And it was this faith that he was able to instil into his men. He told them, "From today you are the soldiers of the Indian national Army of Free India. You have volunteered to shoulder the responsibility of 40 crore of Indians. Form today your mind, might and money belongs to the Indian nation."
He again said, "…Your names will be written in golden letters in the history if free India. Every soldier who is martyred in this holy war will have a monument in free India. The coming generations will shower flowers on those monuments. You are very fortunate that you have got this valuable opportunity to serve the mother land…" Well this was the way Netaji thought we Indians will remember those martyrs. But no, those brave soldiers who died fighting for the freedom of our motherland are today forgotten. Their sacrifices have been sidelined. It is tragic that even our leader Netaji has not been given his due place in the history. His life has been a chronicle of continuous endeavours and relentless toil.
He was truly an extraordinary may whose only burning desire was to shake off the shackles of colonial rule. This worthy man shed his blood, suffered immensely and died for our freedom, our prosperity and our well being. It is almost as if he said to his future children: here\\'s my gift for you. But look at the condition that India is in today. In his address to an independence day meeting in Berlin on 26th January, 1943 he said, "… And India is a country where the past has not been forgotten, but where our past history and tradition live in our blood and the marrow of our bones. It is because of this national self-consciousness that neither political domination nor economic impoverishments have been able to kill our soul…" Such sterling words form this great man. He was one leader whose style of functioning was worth imitating, whose ideas worth adopting and whose examples worth following. But today we have buried our past. We have not made use of the wisdom of the past.
Netaji\\'s skills as a diplomat left many of his contemporaries astounded. The manner in which he dealt with Hitler - even while requesting for help from Germany he minced no words in telling Hitler that he did not approve of his treatment of Jews - leaves one with no doubt of his courage and abilities as a diplomat. The Japanese Prime Minister Tojo was so enamoured by his engaging personality and sincerity that he granted him all his requests including the formation of the Provisional Government of Free India and handing over Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the Government. He maintained complete autonomy in dealings with the leaders and equalled them in more ways than one.
Much has been said and written about Netaji\\'s conflict with Gandhiji. The conflict was only on ideology. Non-violence was the lifelong creed of Gandhi but Netaji saw this as, a "temporary tactic, a tactic which is temporarily useful." It wasn\\'t as if he didn\\'t believe in the civil disobedience movement of Gandhi but as he said, "India will get freedom through an armed struggle coupled with a civil disobedience movement. But civil disobedience movement alone will not be enough …. As the British Government relies on the strength of bayonets, we too should use bayonets in order to defeat them decisively. As the enemy stands before us with the drawn sword, we should fight him only with the aid of the sword." The impossible is always absurd until it\\'s done. Then it is possible.