January 19, 2009

The Forgotten Army

26th January is approaching. Just another date- except that this time, it’s on a Monday. And everyone loves the idea of a long weekend. People have been planning their long weekend getaways. On 26th January, we would not want to be bothered otherwise. Perhaps there will be a flurry of patriotic songs on Radio and the nagging fear of another terrorist attack on sovereign Indian soil. And then, we’ll go back to our usual lives.

For some reason the last few nights as I look out of my window I am remembering a certain episode of India’s freedom struggle. The Indian National Army.

When I went to Singapore, I tried to find everywhere where the INA memorial was. No one seemed to know. No had bothered to remember. No one even knew if the house where the first Government of Independent India operated out of still existed. Singapore had forgotten a foreign freedom struggle which is absolutely acceptable. What I could not accept was the way India had forgotten her heroes. I was ashamed how I myself knew so precious little about the INA. Finally in some park we found what looked like the INA memorial. A sole lamp and a sole marble slab bore testimony to an army that fought without ammunition or rations merely on the basis of one single goal – “Dilli Chalo.”

April 4th 1944, the first time the Indian tricolour was hoisted on independent territory on the mainland of India and yet we do not remember it.

This post is definitely not about the man behind the army. He didn’t do what he did so that we would remember him and if the nation decides to forget him, that’s the choice the nation makes. If only a nationally insignificant political party tries to keep itself alive by playing second fiddle to a Big Brother in a small state and sometimes tickling Bengali sentimentalism by remembering him on the 23rd of January, then so be it. But I think there is something our politicians could learn from him. Even after being shunted out of the Congress, Bose harboured no ill will against Gandhi and Nehru. Two of the brigades in the INA were named after Nehru and Gandhi respectively. If only we knew how to rise over partisanship.

I know it will be a holiday for you. I know you’ll probably plan for a long weekend trip outside your homes. But just in case, you have been feeling lazy and want to watch a movie go ahead and get the DVD of Bose: The Forgotten Hero. Or maybe Sardar or Gandhi. Understand what gives you the ability to call yourself masters of your own destiny and not Her Majesty’s subject.

Understand. Appreciate. Choose. You will soon select your own future in a few months. This time do not use the excuse of nothing changes in this country. The Indian National Army had changed the way the nation thought. Yes, we chose Satyagraha but even then we had the right to choose.


arbitmind said...

The problem is not about choosing....
It is about the lack of options to choose from.
Having said that, I accept my share of the blame for getting my country to the position it is now.

CJ said...

mr. patriot! :)speaking of which, remember the "u can't call urself a patriot unless u go to the independence day function" i threw in ms. devika's gd? :D

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ Kosom - we all do. and then go back to our desks and coffee cups.

@ CJ - Absolutely. She loved 'Chendy' ever since. How many had you gone for btw? :P

Anonymous said...

Just got the word bose the forgotten hero will be available on dvd on 23th jan, 2011 http://www.facebook.com/pages/Netaji-Subhas-Chandra-BOSE-The-Forgotten-Hero/143499039042380 ...