Indian National Army and Subash Chandra Bose

Indian National Army and Subash Chandra Bose

This article deals with ‘Indian National Army and Subash Chandra Bose– UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Modern History’ which is important pillar of GS-1 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Subash Chandra Bose  in World War 2

  • After outbreak of Second WW in 1939 Subas Chandra Bose argued that Indians were losing the rare opportunity , for they must take advantage of empire’s weakest moment. He was convinced in 1939 , when disciplinary action was taken against him, that it was the result of ‘Right Wing Consolidation‘ and now this hesitation to initiate mass movement against the Raj was because of same Right Wing Leaders who were out of touch with new forces and new elements that had come into existence in last few years.
  • Back in Bengal, he forged a link with the Muslim League, and decided to launch a civil disobedience movement to destroy the Holwell monument that stood in Calcutta as a reminder of a Black hole tragedy which most people believed did never happen and was invented only to tar the memory of Siraj-ud-daula, the last independent ruler of Bengal. It was a campaign that had an obvious appeal to the Muslims and thus could further strengthen the Hindu-Muslim pact in Bengal. But before it could start, he was arrested by the British on 3 July 1940 under the Defence of India Act.  Bose remained incarcerated until he threatened to start a hunger strike in December. He was then released unconditionally, but kept under constant surveillance.
  • In the meanwhile, war progressed in Europe, and Bose believed that Germany was going to win. Although he did not like their  totalitarianism or racism, he began to nurture the idea that the cause of Indian independence could be furthered with the help of the Axis powers and started exploring various possibilities. He escaped from the eyes of government and disappeared on 26 Jan 1941 & reached Germany via Kabul & Russia . After  meeting  Hitler he reached Japan . He had embarked on the last and most dramatic phase of his patriotic career, but the decision to rely primarily on help from Britain’s enemies was also in a sense a confession of the weakness of internal forces, and marked a kind of return to the methods of the revolutionary terrorists during the First World War.

Indian National Army (INA)

  • There were many Indian revolutionaries working abroad for the country’s cause & most prominent among them was  Rasbehari Bose, living as a fugitive from the British since 1915 in Japan. He seized the opportunity offered by war to mobilise Indians for armed struggle
  • There were large number of Indians fighting on behalf of British . When they were taken as prisoners in SE Asia , Major Fujiwara persuaded Captain Mohan Singh to work in collaboration with Japanese for India’s freedom
  • 1942 : Indian Independence League was formed in a conference held in Tokyo & Rash Bihari Bose was elected as President & decision was taken to raise INA with Captain Mohan Singh as Commander.  SC Bose was invited to lead the movement
  • June, 1943:  He came to Tokyo and then joined  INA at Singapore in July. Rashbehari Bose handed over leadership to Subhas Bose, and an Azad Hind Sarkar was formed.
  • In November, 1943, the Japanese announced their decision to hand over the administration of Andamans and Nicobar islands to the INA . INA in a few months time had three fighting brigades named after Gandhi, Azad and Nehru. Soon other brigades were raised, namely the Subhas brigade and Rani Jhansi brigade. The overseas Indians contributed heavily in terms of money and material for the army.
  • Fighting side by side Japanese forces,  INA reached India & hoisted  tricolour on Indian soil . INA failed to capture Imphal mainly because Japanese failed to supply necessary material & air cover to INA & monsoon prevented their advance
  • Meantime Britishers regrouped their forces. Although INA fought heroically but after suffering loss of manpower & collapse of Germany  & Japanese army INA too couldn’t stand on its own

Bose and Indian National Army (INA)

  • He became very popular by the name of Netaji . Now he organised AZAD HIND FAUJ which consisted of most of those soldiers which were forcibly recruited by British & were sent on fronts
  • He trained soldiers of INA on modern military weapons & trained himself in modern warfare . Then he came Singapore via Japan
  • INA was given recognition by many nations . In 1943 , he declared war on England & USA & made  HQ in Burma
  • 1944 – cross Indo-Burmese border and freed Assam .
  • He planned to march Delhi by declaring Delhi Chalo March . It was due to onset of monsoon & shortage of food supply that his dream was not fulfilled
  • His efforts had great influence on the minds of Indians who were ready to make sacrifice for independence . Slogans of Jai Hind & Give me Blood , I will give you freedom made lasting influence on Indians
  • Towards end of 1944 , Japan became weak & allied armies reoccupied Rangoon & INA has to retreat from Burma . On 6 & 9 Aug 1945 ,  Atom bombs were dropped on two cities of Japan & soon Japan surrendered before Allied nations
  • Due to lack of provisions & ammunition INA had to accept defeat before Allied Nations . Most of soldiers were taken prisoners by British . After defeat, Netaji went to Singapore & on 16th Aug when he was going to Japan, his plane crashed near Formosa & he most probably died in Accident
  • British Government tried three high officials of INA – Shah Nawaz Khan, Gurbaksh Singh & Prem Kumar Sehgal in Delhi in a special court . Congress tried its best to save them . Team headed by Bhulabhai Desai & consisting of Asaf Ali, Tej Bahadur Sapru , Kailash Nath Katju & JL Nehru tried their best as lawyer to save them but government gave them death punishment . Indians opposed severely & government had to bow down & free the accused . It was great victory for INA.


  • The reasons were many, as Joyce Lebra enumerates them:
    1. Lack of air power,
    2. Breakdown in the chain of command,
    3. Disruption of the supply line,
    4. Strength of Allied  defensive,
    5. Lack of cooperation  from the Japanese.

But Bose still remained optimistic, thought of regrouping, and after Japanese surrender, contemplated seeking help  of Soviet Russia. The Japa­nese agreed to provide him transport upto Manchuria  from where he could travel to Russia. But on his way, on 18 August 1945 at Taihoku airport in Taiwan, he died in an air crash, which many in Indi­a  still believe never happened.

Impact of Indian National Army’s formation

  • Became clear to Britishers that they could no longer depend on loyalty of Indian Soldiers & treat them as mercenaries. Trials of INA resulted in Royal Indian Navy (RIN) Mutiny. These two incidents showing the vulnerability of Army to rebellion are treated as main cause of Britishers for their early withdrawl from India 
  • Psychological Impact : Although in military terms, its achievement was almost negligible because when INA started its operations in 1944, Axis powers were on retreat in almost all places. But important to distinguish between immediate achievement and ultimate (and mainly psychological) impact.  We must not underestimate the impact on the patriotic imagination of an actual army fighting, however ineffectively, for the country’s liberation, led by a Bengali—the least ‘martial’ of India’s’races’ in traditional British stereotype.
  • Struggle of INA demonstrated that those who waged an armed struggle against British were not at all affected by communal division . There were Hindus, Muslims & Sikhs who fought as Indians
  • Actions of Rani Jhansi Brigade demonstrated the capabilities of Indian Women
  • INA demonstrated the enthusiasm & concern of overseas Indians for freedom of motherland.
  • It is quite probable, as P.S. Gupta has surmised, that the situation, particularly the more mass based INA agitation, “led to the sending of a Cabinet Mission

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