Subhas Chandra Bose generally known as Netaji (literally, “Respected Leader”), was one of the most prominent and highly respected leaders of the Indian independence movement against the British Raj. Bose was elected president of the Indian National Congress for two consecutive terms but resigned from the post following ideological conflicts with Mahatma Gandhi. Bose believed that Gandhi’s tactics of non-violence would never be sufficient to secure India’s independence, and advocated violent resistance. He established a separate political party, the All India Forward Bloc and continued to call for the full and immediate independence of India from British rule. He was imprisoned by the British authorities eleven times. His stance did not change with the outbreak of the Second World War, which he saw as an opportunity to take advantage of British weakness. At the outset of the war, he fled from India and traveled to the Soviet Union, Germany and Japan, seeking an alliance with the aim of attacking the British in India. With Japanese assistance, he re-organized and later led the Indian National Army, formed from Indian prisoners-of-war and plantation workers from Malaya, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia, against British forces. With Japanese monetary, political, diplomatic and military assistance, he formed the Azad Hind Government in exile and regrouped and led the Indian National Army in battle against the allies at Imphal and in Burma.
His political views and the alliances he made with Nazi and other militarist regimes at war with Britain have been the cause of arguments among historians and politicians. Some have accused him of Fascist sympathies, while others in India have been more sympathetic towards the realpolitik that guided his social and political choices. He is believed to have died on August 18, 1945, in a plane crash over Taiwan. However, contradictory evidence exists regarding his death in the accident. His legacy rests alongside those of many men and women who resorted to arms in the anti-colonial struggles of the twentieth century. The desire for freedom is strong among people and self-determination is a recognized political right. The colonial powers did not hesitate to use violence to suppress independence movements. The British in India, even in response to non-violent protest, arrested and imprisoned people which represented a type of violence. Rightly or wrongly, Bose and many others have turned to war to claim their freedom, so strong is the human desire to live in states that control their own destiny. He was far from being a selfish man or a man who spent his life aspiring to personal ambitions. Rather, in the way he thought appropriate, he strove to free his nation from colonial rule.
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