In the 1940's the range of Indian nationalism had reached a full spectrum of discourse previously thought impossible. The British declaration of war on the Axis Powers on India's behalf was followed quickly by a mass resignation of elected Indian National Congress (INC) leaders, and in the wake of the virtual dissolution of the INC there remained an open field of distinct personalities and often opposing routes toward independence in the eyes of the nationalists. The public, previously herded under the banner of separate politicians joined in a coalition against British oppression together, now were left to choose between the politicians themselves politicians turned revolutionaries of different intensities and viewpoints who were deeply connected in their passion for Purna Swaraj (complete independence), but intensely differentiated by the answers they proposed in response to the question of how to achieve it.
[...] Against the sober yet openly self-justifying rhetoric of Amery and the liberal, earnest entreaties of Thompson to his countrymen for a more generous imagining of India's place in the empire (albeit markedly less of an ultimatum than the call of nationalists for Purna Swaraj), Bose appears as a figure for whom no option remained but immediacy in the face of continuing British temporization; for whom no cause was sacred but the cause of unmitigated self-rule in the face of ongoing British suppression under the guise of dominion or any other title, no cause sacred including the cause of countering Axis aggression; for whom alliances and agreements he himself recognized as dubious were to be considered as necessary means to an end much longed-after. [...]
[...] In addition, the pull for a national unity among Indians to prove to the British that they were not the bringers of fundamental order and law to India (as is asserted by Amery and to a lesser extent by Thompson) was a great wish of Bose, and he saw a government that put national pride at the forefront, even in an autocratic way, as admirable to some degree. The only definite caveat he gives (as quoted from a 1938 interview in a London socialist paper) as to his admiration of fascism is that when he commented that an independent India would ideally be synthesis between Communism and Fascism,” that fascism was not yet “started on its imperialist expedition, and it appeared to me merely an aggressive form of nationalism” p. [...]
[...] translated as “Great Soul” or for his often self-sacrificing and unwaveringly peaceful efforts in the progression toward Purna Swaraj; as the most remembered of the three across borders and through time, this image of the almost ethereally benign Gandhi resonates to this day. Bose, the last of the three inarguably emblematic Indian leaders operating in politics during the period, was rewarded the title of or “Respected (Beloved) Leader,” and this moniker brings up several of the reasons why the controversy that swarms about his history remains strong. [...]
[...] This passing remark will be significant in considering Bose, who at the end of his public life raised two armies in Nazi Germany and Totalitarian Japan for the sole purpose of combating the British directly and winning public support by so doing. Obviously the concept of Bose's level of rebellion was a thought that Thompson feared but also doubted would ever come to fruition. This assumption of basic British-Indian fraternity despite years of what he openly admits was tantamount to abuse on a national level is one point on which Bose must have been a terrible, unfathomable figure to a man like Thompson, who progressive as he was reeled at the idea of a completely free India. [...]
[...] The first is that Britain was essentially “wrong over this declaring India a belligerent,” and that despite the Indian Congress's ability to launch major civil disobedience campaigns at pivotal moments in the war (the Battle of Britain, the falling back at Dunkirk), Gandhi and Nehru, respectively, urged their followers not to do through with it, the latter proclaiming in what Thompson calls act of high chivalry” that to injure Britain further at this moment would be “derogatory to India's honor” p. [...]
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