New India takes pride in defence preparedness and strength of its military. It should not be viewed as a contradiction to India’s Gandhian ethos, as India’s military power is not meant for expansionism but as a deterrent force to those who are vying for expansionism. India’s day to day strive is not about military expeditions but building the economy by serving rural/ grassroot India, and undertaking both basic and big infrastructures. But it will not hesitate to do a Balakot when the enemy needed to be contained.
This perspective is relevant when the country is celebrating Parakram Divas to mark the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. His Indian National Army (INA) arguably convinced British rulers to leave India as they anticipated the military awakening of India which they would not be able to withstand for long.
In recent years, India’s engagement with South Asian countries is globally an issue that gets attention. The western world now recognises unambiguously that India has a big role to play in the Indo-Pacific region.
Back then, Netaji had created such a sphere of influence in South Asia that it became a nightmare for the colonial rulers. A research note elucidates the role of the Azad Hind Fauj or the Indian National Army in creating a compelling global narrative for India at that time.
It notes that the INA gave a proud identity for Indians living in Malaya, Singapore, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, and all the South east Asian regions.
It analyses that the British were successful in breaking the unity of Indians by bracketing them in various groups and castes. But the idea of an army for India by Netaji obliterated all such divides and united Indians.
Women in the Army
The New India at present is taking pride in granting permanent commission for women in the armed forces, women fighter jet pilots coming to the fore.
Subhash Chandra Bose’s INA had put women in combat roles at the forefront. He actively campaigned for recruiting women fighters for the army. The Women’s Regiment in 1943 was a 1,000-soldier strong grouping named as Rani of Jhansi Regiment. How Netaji’s INA was an instrument in uniting India while also encouraging women to play a crucial role can be gauged by the fact that Saraswathi Rajamani, a lady from Chennai had joined INA as the youngest spy at the age of 16.
India’s diplomatic alliances, if not military, are often a subject of phrase now-a-days since India has forged friendships with nations be it in the Arab world or in the Indo-Pacific region in the interests of the nation.
Similarly, not minding the forms of government or ideologies that some nations followed, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose forged alliances with countries to serve India’s interests.
The national archive of Singapore aptly records this phase of Netaji.
“After several months of intensive military training, Subhas Chandra Bose felt that the INA was ready to free India. His plan was to enter north-east India through Burma. By January 1944, the Provisional Government of Azad Hind and the INA began moving to Burma. Together with the Japanese, the INA successfully staged two military campaigns in March and captured Imphal and Arakan.
Thereafter, the Japanese decided to capture Kohima, a strategic point in the mountainous border region between India and Burma. However, the INA and Japanese took longer than expected to capture it. When the monsoons arrived in May, the INA and Japanese who had run out of supplies by then, were forced to retreat. The tide of war had turned.
On 15 August 1945, Japan surrendered. Despite the loss of an ally, Bose did not waver. He immediately looked to the Soviet Union for support.”
Thus, in many ways, New India is following the legacy of Subhash Chandra Bose in carving the path of Parakram. The phrase Parakram Divas is apt in marking the birth anniversary of Subhash Chandra Bose.
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