Bose, Subhas Chandra and Sarat Chandra

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Bose, Subhas Chandra and Sarat Chandra


Political leaders from Bengal involved in the Indian nationalist movement in the first half of the twentieth century, Sarat Chandra Bose (18891950) and Subhas Chandra Bose (18971945) were brothers from a successful high-caste family headed by their father, Janaki Nath Bose. The two brothers attended Presidency College, Calcutta, one of the leading colleges of British India.

Sarat Bose went to Great Britain and was called to the bar from Lincolns Inn and had a lucrative legal career before the Calcutta High Court for more than three decades. Meanwhile, his more impetuous and devoted younger brother was dismissed from college for involvement in an attack on a British professor who had insulted India. However, Subhas Bose continued his education at Scottish Churches College, graduated, and went on to secure a high position in the examination for the Indian Civil Service in 1920.

Preferring to work in the nationalist movement led by Mahatma Gandhi (18691948), Subhas Bose resigned from the civil service and joined the struggle against British rule in his home province of Bengal. In 1924 he became chief executive officer of the Calcutta Corporation (city government), but was arrested soon thereafter for suspicion of smuggling arms. He was imprisoned in Burma and released in 1927. Meanwhile, his activity drew his older brother into nationalist politics and Calcutta affairs.

After his release, Subhas Bose became an important leader of the younger, socialist-inclined nationalists in the Indian National Congress (INC), the main nationalist organization. Although he worked with the nonviolent Gandhian movement, he also had links to underground nationalists who committed acts of violence against their British rulers. In 1930 Subhas Bose was elected mayor of Calcutta and participated in Gandhis civil disobedience movement. Again arrested in 1932, Subhas Bose was released to go to Europe for medical treatment. Sarat Bose was also arrested and spent 1932 to 1935 in prison.

In the late 1930s Subhas Bose became president of the INC at Gandhis behest and his brother Sarat was leader of the opposition in the Bengal Legislative Assembly. A conflict with Gandhi led to Subhas Boses resignation from his INC leadership post in 1939 and then his suspension for disobeying INC strictures about demonstrations. Sarat Bose continued playing an important role in Bengal politics until December 1941. The opening of World War II (19391945) changed everything in India.

Believing that the British would never leave India peacefully, Subhas Bose departed India secretly in January 1941 and made his way to Germany, where he set up a propaganda center and organized a small force of Indians into the Indian Legion. He decided to cooperate with the enemies of the British Empire to help destroy it. Because his younger brother was working with the enemy, Sarat Bose was imprisoned from 1941 to 1945.

In 1943 Subhas Bose traveled to Southeast Asia and with Japanese help organized the provisional government of free India and reorganized the Indian National Army (INA) to oppose the British. The Japanese and the INA invaded India in 1944 but were defeated by the Allies. Subhas Bose died in a plane crash in Taiwan in August 1945 as the war ended. Members of the INA were tried for treason, convicted, but then released by the British. In death, Subhas Bose (called Netaji or revered leader) became more beloved than in life. Some even disputed that he had ever died in the plane crash.

Sarat Bose was briefly a cabinet minister in the interim government in 1946 and worked to prevent the partition of India as the British prepared to leave the country. After independence and partition in August 1947, Sarat Bose became an opponent and critic of the ruling Congress Party in India, but he died shortly thereafter in 1950.

SEE ALSO Indian National Army; Indian National Congress


Bose, Sisir K., and Sugata Bose, eds. 1997. The Essential Writings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Gordon, Leonard A. 1990. Brothers against the Raj: A Biography of Indian Nationalists Sarat and Subhas Chandra Bose. New York: Columbia University Press.

Leonard A. Gordon

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Bose, Subhas Chandra and Sarat Chandra

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