Netaji Bose – An Enigma, An Inspiration, An icon & yet a Paradox


Netaji Bose – India’s only modern day warrior hero

Time and again I was reminded by one of my good friend that since 2014 I have been writing several post on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in facebook and some of my posts ( as he thinks ) are needed to be circulated among larger readers.I also recently checked all my old facebook posts since 2012 and realised that some of the contexts in which I was tempted to write post on Netaji deserve a bigger platform to evaluate it’s validity. This gave me an idea to compile all those small posts into a one small article and I found my blog is the best place to publish it.I could have sent this article to any of the publication but again refrained myself of doing that with this fear that Netaji is still a too sensitive topic in India and any one will think twice before publishing a piece on Bose where instead of blindly admiring him someone has candidly questioned his political wisdom.

This blog post is little edited but it is by and large a capsulisation of all my different thoughts of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose who even after more than 70 years of his mysterious oblivion from public eye still rules our imagination, our politics , our passion and obviously our hearts.

An Indian lion at Singapore – Bose reforming INA in 1943

Over the skyline of Singapore while gliding in air inside of a glass capsule I suddenly noticed an old building.It rang a bell in my mind as I have been seeing this building in a picture since my childhood days.Then suddenly I recollected a photo of Netaji Bose accepting guard of honor of 55000


Singapore – October 1943 – Netaji taking over the charge of Indian National Army

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Tagore’s tryst with cinema: A whirlpool of scattered thoughts.

A small note : 

On 22nd June 2019 The Statesman carried an article of mine titled ” His Tryst With The Reel World “. It was all about Rabindranath Tagore’s direct and indirect association with world of cinema during his life time. It appeared in their Saturday supplement ” Marquee “.


The icon who overcasted everything and almost every lives – Photo from internet.

Very unfortunately due to a wild cat strike by some employees of The Statesman in that particular week this supplement could not be printed and only an e-paper issue was uploaded in web aborting the chance of being read it by most of the readers of The Statesman.It was a matter of dismay to me as well.The article published in e-paper was shortened for space challenges and also had few printing disorders.


My article in The Statesman on 22nd June 2019

Thus I am republishing it here in my blog . It is the uncut original article. I hope this will serve a serious purpose to all those who want to know Tagore’s involvement with cinema during his life time. My this article is just an expanded and refined version of the article published in The Statesman on 22nd June 2019.

Tagore’s tryst with cinema: A whirlpool of scattered thoughts.

A long life of 80 years made Rabindranath Tagore eligible to experience the time of two centuries which were equally eventful in history of mankind. In this span he saw his own country’s awakening from a prolong darkness to modernity while in world outside he saw how fast science and technology are pushing the civilization to an unimaginable zenith from where lust of power, rapacity and beastly objectives are again scaling it down to a crisis. He saw 2 world wars and saw how marvels of science are used and misused across the world.

Cinema or the motion picture was such an invention that crossed the road with him when he was matured and famous. In the year 1913 when he won the Nobel prize as first Asian and became a global icon, cinema by that time  started it’s journey in India. Although motion picture as an entertainment format had arrived a decade ago and from 1904 on wards it’s exhibitions in his city of birth was regular and popular too. From Star theatre to St Xavier’s college everywhere common people of Bengal started enjoying the magic of motion picture even before the 1st feature film hit the theatre of India in 1913.


Many sides of Tagore’s association with cinema are still largely unexplored – Photo by author.

Tagore got associated with film industry as story writer from silent era itself and later in the time of talkie. However his direct participation in cinema occurred only a few time and all did not leave good memories to him.

“Bisarjan” – the first offer from Madan Theatre :

In 1920 when silent film was at it’s golden era producers looked at Tagore’s work which were already a part of Bengali stage.

The first offer to picturise a Tagore story on film came from Rustamji Dotiyala the owner of JF Madan’s Company that had presence in India, Burma and SriLanka. They approached Dhirendranath Ganguly popularly known as DG who was the principal of Nizam Art College in Hydrabad. DG took the offer and Tagore’s consent was taken to picturise his famous play “Bisarjan” a dramatic version of his novel “Rajarshi” based on the story of Tripura’s royal family.


Ujjayant palace – The abode of Tripura’s royal family in Agartala – Tagore’s ” Bisarjan ” was based on this royal family – Photo by author.

DG personally went to Tagore to derive his consent. However the film was never made thanks to non availability of enough number of female actors. Some scholars are of an opinion that there was a difference of opinion between DG and Rustamji in which DG preferred to part with the project.

8 years after that in 1928 the same film was made and it was produced by Orient Picture Corporation and Madan Theatres jointly .Two top actress of silent era Jubeda and Sulochona acted in this. The special point to note that before it was commercially released in Calcutta it was screened in West End theatre of London on 12th June 1928.

Later when in December it was released in Calcutta’s crown cinema hall Tagore due to his poor health failed to watch it.

Tapati – the abandoned project in midway :

The entire India was charmed and pleased when on 22nd December 1929 “The Illustrated Weekly of India” of Bombay published a news under the heading “ Rabindranath Tagore as Film Star”.

It was indeed a breaking news announcing that Tagore has agreed to write script for one movie based on his play “Tapati” in which he himself will play a major role. It will be directed by Dhirendranath Ganguly. The magazine even published a photo of Tagore and Ganguly with this news item with a caption reds “ Dr Rabindranath Tagore with Mr Dhiren Gangopadhay the producer of the British Dominion Film Limited who are shortly going to film Tagore’s latest drama Tapati with poet himself in the main role.”

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That page of ” The Illustrated Weekly of India ” announcing Tagore’s entry as a film stat in world of cinema.

The same news was also published in Calcutta’s The Statesman, Amrita Bazar Patrike and Ananda Bazar Patrika.

Plan wise Tagore wrote script for the movie and agreed to play a character named Vikram.

it’s shooting started. When just 3 reels of making was done Tagore suddenly went to Soviet Union and Germany leaving the project incomplete. The film never returned to floor and gradually the three 3 reels in which Tagore acted was also lost.

Today it has no trace.

The Child – Tagore’s only original work meant for cinema :

From 19th to 24th July 1930 Tagore was again visiting Germany.

During this trip one day he travelled from Munich to Oberammergau a place famous for passion play based on life of Jesus Christ. Tagore watched the play and was profoundly moved by it’s artistic charms. When he returned to Munich one of the top film production house of Germany named UFA gmbH (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft ) offered him to write a script that can be made into a film. Tagore for the first time in his life tried his hands to write a long English poem in format of a film script. The piece was “ The Child” where influence of his captivation of watching passion play is candid. Though by that time talkie was there in Germany Tagore wrote the piece in style of a silent movie. It was a new experiment that he dared to do at his 70 years of age very much similar to his passion of painting which he found almost at the same time.

History is obscure from here as there is no clue whether any such film was indeed made on this.

The Child was later translated in Bengali by Tagore and he named it “ Shishu Tirtha “.

Tagore in land of Soviet : His direct interaction with cinema people :

For many reasons Tagore’s visit to USSR in 1930 is considered a watershed event of his life. The impact and influence of this tour was so profound that he once described it as a pilgrimage.

It is not known to many that Moscow was the place where Tagore for the first time in abroad directly interacted with artists and technicians of Russian cinema, visited film studio and a special cinema show was organized for him. He was aware of the movie Battleship Potemkin released in 1925 and directed by Sergei Eisenstein. A special show was arranged for him by director’s wife. He watched the movie along with one more named “ Old & New “.

chithi Capture

“Russiar Chithi” – Letters from Russia. Tagore described his Soviet Union experience as a pilgrimage of modern times. Photo by author.

Battleship Potemkin which is considered as one of the best 11 movie of all time made Tagore moved. After the show there was a discussion on cinema where Tagore commented on the power of cinema as a new form of art and there he expressed his own idea of scripting human history on screen. It is assumed he referred his script of The Child which was never made into movie.

When Hollywood came closer to Tagore :

It was 1935 when his friend and biographer Edward Thomson got in touch with Hollywood movie Mughal Alexander Corda. Thomson proposed two stories of Tagore to Hollywood. One was Chitrangada an opera based on a part of Mahabharat and other was Tagore’s mystic thriller “ Khudita Pashan”. However none of the story was sanctioned as by Hollywood as India for America was still a country of tiger, elephant, child marriage and fakirs. So subjects like these did not attract Hollywood producers. Thomson was also in touch of famous director Robert Joseph Flaherty the pioneer of documentary film.

Flaherty expressed his wish to film documentary on India but not feature film.

Thus the plan of filming of Tagore’s story in Hollywood was nipped in bud.

Tagore the subtitle writer of 1930 movie Giribala :

The first movie made on the story of Tagore was Manbhanjan in 1923.It was a silent movie and Tagore was not connected to that.
In 1930 Madhu Bose who was very close to Tagore wanted to remake it and requested Tagore to write it’s script.

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Tagore & Madhu Bose working together on script.

Tagore only agreed to do some correction and addition on a ready script. So Madhu Bose made a primary script on which Tagore made several corrections and added many dialogues. There is one photograph found where we see Tagore is working on the script with Bose sitting on his side As it was a silent film again these dialogues appeared on the screen as subtitle before every sequence. As Manbhanjan was already a movie made in 1923 Tagore wanted to change the name and it was he who sanctioned new name “Giribala” the main female character of the story. The film was produced by Madan Theatres and released on 15th February 1930 at Crown cinema of Calcutta.

Tagore watched the film on it’s 1st show and expressed his satisfaction. This was perhaps only time that Tagore watched a movie based on his own story on it’s opening show.

Movie based on Tagore story censored for low moral tone :

In his lifetime Tagore has encountered such an experience that movie made on his story was withdrawn and banned for three years for it’s “ low moral tone.”


Tagore – The man of many talents was subject to many controversies as well.Photo from internet.

In 1928 legendary thespian of Bengali stage Sisir Kumar Bhaduri directed the movie “ Bicharak” based on Tagore’s story. Nitin Bose was it’s camera man. It was withdrawn from theatre by censor board on the ground of low moral and indecency. Though it created enough uproar in Bengal’s cultural world the film took more than three years to return to theatre.

Tagore’s reaction on this was not known.

Cinema hall in Calcutta named by Tagore :

Though he was always in reluctance to mingle himself with cinema his affection and love for people who are associated with this new form of art was never fallen short.In mid 1930s when a new cinema hall came up in north Calcutta’s Hatibagan area Tagore


A tribute to Tagore by the management of Rupbani cinema hall after his demise – An announcement published in Amrita Bazar Patrika in August 1941

was requested by it’s owner to bless it with a new name.Tagore named it ” Roop Bani ” meaning image and sound.The cinema hall ran for decades as one of the best movie theatre in the locality before it was shut down to give way to a shopping mall.

Natir puja – A miscalculated venture :

The only time when Tagore established a direct connection with studios of Tollyganj was in 1931 when one of his dance drama “ Natir Puja “ was made in cinema and he himself played a role in this apart from directing it partially. However some parts of this film were nothing but direct recording of the stage performance done in Tagore’s ancestral house of Jorasanko between December to January of 1931-1932.

Natir Puja was written by Tagore in 1926 on the request of his daughter-in-law Pratima Devi who was looking for a drama that to be performed only with female students of Shantiniketan. Tagore reshaped his famous poem “ Pujarini “ into a dance drama and named it “ Natir Puja “ the prayer of the consort. It was a Budhist period drama.

Later on Tagore inserted a male character named Upali and himself started playing the role. The play rocked Calcutta and went on running several performances in Old Empire and Jorasanko. It was first recorded in film by Art Film Syndicate but that film was never shown to public.

natir New Doc 2018-11-12_1

Natir Puja only movie directed and acted by Tagore – The lobby card

Impressed by the popularity of the drama BN Sircar then boss of New Theatres offered to make the drama into a film and requested Tagore to direct it. On 5th January 1932 two Bengali magazines Nabashakti and Chitrapanji printed this news.

The film travelled through rough weather from it’s conceptual stage.

No change was done in the script and Tagore himself came to New Theatre studio to direct the film. It was shoot in floor no 1 with students of Shantiniketan who used to come studio with their make up done from home. The film was completed in 4 days but actually how many days out of that Tagore came to studio is not clear though he acted in it in role of Upali the blind baul singer. Once completed Tagore was again invited to New Theatre to watch the preview.He came and watched but did not opine anything.

Finally on 22nd March 1932 the only Indian film acted and directed by Tagore was released in Chitra cinema of Calcutta.

The experience was pathetic.

The film had no merit of a good movie as it’s camera was almost motionless in entire span. There was no partly taken mid shots with close ups and frame by frame movement. .It was taken from one corner with almost static camera resulting insipid viewing. More to that acting performance of some of the actress were low and most of them were not usual in mike. Quality Of sound track was equally bad.

It painfully ran for 11 days in Chitra cinema and then released in Rasa theatre of south Calcutta on 9th April where it ran for just 3 days. In both the theatres the agony of mob was palpable and sometimes resulted fury by breaking chairs. The production was ruthlessly castigated in media. On 27th March English daily “ Libery” wrote “……… it is an intellectual feast but there is not much of action in the play , the thirst of screen lovers is not satisfied……The two girls who have taken the part of Radha and Rani have hopeless talkiw voices ….lack of knowledge of singing before the mike unnecessary volume of sound has been transferred to the sound camera by the artists.”

Bengali magazine Nabashakti was even more attacking on Tagore clearly remarking that those who do not know the art of film making should not do it. As per them spectators should not be blamed if they show intolerance to see monotonous 10551 feet long film.


Tagore himself did not enjoy the act of film making at the last phase of his life – His emotional involvement in this film was minimum as it is assumed.Photo from internet.

The failure of Natir Puja as film can only be reasoned for it’s poor direction where a stage play was not transformed into a film script. Plus 70 plus Tagore could not take the physical pain of part shooting and camera movement. Near the stage at studio he was mostly rested on a sofa and Premankur Attarthi used to collect his verbal instruction to execute the action. A cinema can never be made like this.

Soon the film was forgotten and a fatal fire in New Theatre studio on 7th August 1940 destroyed negative of the film.

On 9th August 1940 Amrita Bazar Patrika reported that “ The fire which broke out on Wednesday evening at the New Theatre studio’s upper story of the building in addition to the loss of a few negatives of old films….The total loss is estimated to be between ten to fifteen thousand rupees.”

Tagore then still alive did not issue any remark of this loss though his only acting in cinema was destroyed for ever.

In 1961 Satyajit Ray in his documentary titled Rabindranath Tagore used a part of Tagore’s acting as Upali in Natirpuja. However whether it was from the film or from recording of stage performance was not revealed.

Tagore biographer Prashanta Kumar Pal mentioned that a16 mm footage of the film was survived and it was there with Viswabharati for long. In 1992 it was handed over for restoration and an excellent work of salvage was done by NFDC. In that footage Tagore is seen at his Calcutta house and along with a part of stage performance of Natir puja. It was filmed by one Prashanta Roy when the shooting was on in studio.

Tagore on cinema :

Tagore always had faith and respect for cinema as an upcoming medium but at the same time he warned that cinema will never come out with it’s own language if it does slavery of literature. This he wrote in 1929 in a letter to Murari Mohan where he added that “ The beauty and the grandeur of this form in motion has to be developed in such a way that it becomes self sufficient without the use of words.If some other language is needed to explain it’s own, it amounts to incompetence.”

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Tagore’s prolong letter explaining his vision of cinema as a form of art – A very important insight.

He realized it soon specially after his visit to Russia that cinema is coming up as most powerful mass media in future and returning home his several direct and indirect involvements with it gives the testimony of his profound homage to an art which he himself would not be seen in full bloom.

Special thanks to :

Mrs Gopali Banerjee – Feature editor – The Statesman.

Mr Chandi Mukherjee – President BFJA

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Sayonara Doyen : An open letter to Neil O Brien – The Pioneer of Quiz in India

27th June 2016 – Calcutta

My Dear Neil Uncle ,

I could have start this letter by addressing you by anything else but as you are a year elder to my late father I found no other word that stands stronger here.

It has another reason too. if a man without his physical presence can force a boy to take a regular lesson religiously on every Sunday morning then he ( the man ) has every right to become his uncle.

From my very young age my  father was my tutor at home.It was way back in 1983.Sunday morning of those days were fun but along with that a strict study session with father was also fixed from 8 am to 11 am after which I was allowed

When an orthodox newspaper gives you a place on it's front page on your parting it says all about you.

When an orthodox newspaper gives you a place on it’s front page on your parting it says all about you.

to go our local club where outdoor games like soccer and cricket and indoor activities like debate and quiz were cultured with almost a religious dedication.As my father was also the President of the local club me and my dada  had enough encouragement from him to be involved in all such activities. Quiz was one of that.

Quzing in a typical middle class Bengali locality in Calcutta was not that popular a game in those days but thanks to some exceptional initiatives by our local young men we had the taste of quiz even before Sidhartha Basu started Quiz Time in DD’s national channel on Sunday night.( KBC kind of light quiz show was born 17 years from that time ). For me Sunday was a fun day as I had a gala time attending quiz and debate in my para club from that age to early 1990s before the club disbanded.If this is the story then where were you Uncle ? How come you casted a magical shadow on my mind from that time ? Yes you did ! With an invisible presence you were also taking my class on every Sunday morning even before my father used to start his lesson of English or Maths to me. Astonishing it may sound but fact remains genuine.

It was the time when newspaper world of Calcutta was witnessing an amazing unimaginable battle.

In it’s  107 years of existence for the first time 4 Chowringhee Square was facing a serious competition just across the road and that is from  6 Prafulla Sarkar street.From 1982 The Statesman was challenged by newly launched The Telegraph.It came like a storm in newspaper world. Designed by professional designer, new font, bold heading and with many more it was the smartest boy in the market and with that it introduced another new thing.Instead of paper supplement it has introduced a free magazine on every Sunday to it’s readers. It was an unimaginable concept in India’s newspaper world that a Sunday supplement is served in a separate independent magazine !!!!!! That’s not all.There was surprise in it’s content as well. Apart from articles it was full of comics, puzzle,cross word and a page full of Quiz by one Neil O Brien !!!!! Quiz we all knew  a game played mostly in school and picnic but in  newspaper a full page quiz every weekend !!!!! Just a revolution. More to that you designed the page as per your idea that invited  readers involvement.

Tribute from The Telegraph from where it all started for me

Tribute from The Telegraph from where it all started for me

You started inviting questions from us and started printing them with name and address.I never sent any quiz compilation to The Telegraph but on every Sunday as soon as the paper was dropped at my uncle’s flat I used to run through the quiz page edited by you.Trust me the piece of gold that I picked form those pages of quiz made me a confident boy in school.Life was simple in 1980s. In our off time in school we used to quiz among class mates and me by digging your gold mine used to hit the bull’s eye. Soon in school I was crowned as quiz master who knows little more than all. It is  a fame I still enjoy at the age of 42.

Our entire generation got intoxicated with quizing when Sidhartha Basu started quiz show at TV on Sunday 9 pm.For us it was a family reunion in front of  TV.Me, my  brothers, father and uncle used to get engrossed  with that.It was just like having a heavy breakfast and gala dinner on a same day while breakfast in morning was served by you. As you were the quiz master in print we started collecting old pages of The Telegraph magazine.In school like me many started doing that.Thus made us your kid whom you gave light from long distance.

In 1967 when you started a revolution in a small room of Dalhousie Institute of Calcutta I still had six years in hand to born.So the mayhem of quiz that created a wave and moved young minds of sixties to an intoxication of cultivating knowledge through memory games was not seen by me.When I developed an ear to listen , an eye to see and a mind to take from early 1980s it was you who by that time had cemented the position of quiz in India.I saw you twice on stage conducting quiz but my best memories of you is not related to quiz.It was your role as a moderator in the annual Statesman debate on 16th September 1999 at Kalamandir where your oratory skill and sense of humor were best displayed. ” What is wrong with “Calcutta” ? was the topic of the panel discussion and no one can forget the way you handled  Mrinal Sen, Shyamananda Jalan, Saugata Ray and others.

You started quiz in Bengali magazine Anondomela from 1986 ( am I correct ).It was a new wave for all of us.Most of us were reader of that magazine and your quiz became central attraction.There I sent many questions to you from my own wisdom.You ignored most but

One old copy of Anondomela - 22 years ago you delighted me by giving a chance to get my name printed next to you in the same page

One old copy of Anondomela – 22 years ago you delighted me by giving a chance to get my name printed next to you in the same page

in 1992 you suddenly selected 2 questions of mine for two separate issues of Anondomela. One was like  “ Which hindi novel of Munshi Pren Chand was inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s Bengali novel ” Noukadubi” ? The correct answer ” Toofan”. Other one was ” Which road of Calcutta is now renamed as Moulana Abul Kalam Azad Sarani ” ?Correct answer is ” Narkeldanga Main Road“. Trust me Neil uncle I could not sleep all the night in thrill that day as I saw my name printed next to you.I started feeling myself a quiz master what actually I will become soon after.

From 1992 onwards I started conducting quiz shows from very basic level like in local clubs and in private function. Soon I started getting calls from various college fests.It took me to University of Calcutta to Goenka college and many more places.I started travelling Bongaon to Srirampur to Howrah to Baruipur. Then in 1995 I got a call from Amrita Bazar Patrika to contribute in their quiz page.My first contribution with 20 odd questions on 100 years of cinema was printed on March 1995 with a photo of mine just like your photo used to appear in The Telegraph. I was so overjoyed that I purchased 8 copies of that Sunday edition of Amrita Bazar Patrika and why not uncle ? I was thinking myself Somen O Brien that day and just within a month when I got a chance in The Statesman to contribute a set of quiz questions under my name I was almost dead in excitement.It all then bloomed for

Some of my published quiz compilation in The Statesman.These all are in 1999

Some of my published quiz compilation in The Statesman.These all are in 1999

me.I went on compiling quiz boxes for The Statesman till 1999 and for Amrita Bazar till the time it was alive. In 1996 when The Asian Age came in Calcutta and made quiz a cult in newspaper I became one of the most frequent contributor. It was me who was allowed to compile quiz on Durgotsav in a non stop row of 10-12 days before the festival.I did it  from 1996 to 1999. It was The Asian Age readers from whom I got fan letters not one but many and it was in The Statesman where information given by me in quiz page prompted readers to write letter to editor.Was not it too much for an insignificant boy like me ? Why I am beating my drums so loud is that if you were not there in our lives as a light house of quiz nothing would have happen – just nothing.

However you again reminded me and this time it was followed by an intellectual mishap  !!!!!

Your special quiz box in The Statesman - probably started from 1996

Your special quiz box in The Statesman – probably started from 1996

From 1996 onwards you shifted your Sunday quiz page to The Statesman and this time it was edited by you and your son.The same way you started inviting questions from readers and I responded again.To my delight on one Sunday morning I found you have selected my question as best of the week.The question was ” We all know that Tintin is a reporter by profession but for which journal he works for” ? The correct answer ” No body knows as George Remi never wrote the name of the journal for which Tintin works”.I sent this question and you with extreme confidence on me  printed it in The Statesman.

At that point of time trust me Neil uncle I had not read the first book of Tintin that is ” Tintin in the land of Soviet” and it was not the era of Google where you have everything in your smart phone.So my mistake was 100% unintentional and so was yours. A couple of years after when I first saw the book Tintin in the land of Soviets I had shock of my life !!!!!!!! There it is very clearly written that he is the reporter of a jounal named ” Le Petit Vingtieme” a french jounal.

Never before as a quiz master I had a faceloss like this.

I was almost reduced to tears.Not because that I committed a blunder but because my

The cover of that Tintin book that revealed I was wrong.

The cover of that Tintin book that revealed I was wrong.

carelessness has brought disgrace to The Statesman and a man like Neil O Brien. A paper that people think authentic and a man people think pioneer of memory game named quiz was disgraced by me.I must have run to you or The Statesman House same evening to tender my apology but I could not gather courage. Today I knell down before you to admit that I let you down.Without checking all sources ( I had no option of checking Google in 1997 ) I sent you a factually wrong question and never thereafter confessed it.

I kept my bond with quiz till the time I was able to manage it. After that where ever I worked I conducted atleast one quiz there among in house employees. Whether it is Blue Dart or Philips Electronics  or Samsung I tried to make people engrossed in the magic of quiz an art that you taught me many years ago even with out  knowing me personally.

A set of quiz question on Calcutta's cinema hall - my compilation of quiz published in The Statesman in 1996.

A set of quiz question on Calcutta’s cinema hall – my compilation of quiz published in The Statesman in 1996.

One thing that I learnt form you is going deep of small thing.Let it be a lane of Calcutta or let it be a small soccer match there must be 100 interesting points that can magnet a mind to know more about that. Believe me I tried that many a time and many of my contributions covered subject which is apparently insignificant but once you are in it is a treasure. Whenever any of my compiled quiz on such subject came into print in any newspaper I always thanked you in silence. When I was planning to design my website I ensured that a page must be preserved to showcase some of my compiled quiz in print media.You had been my friend in facebook for last 2 years but I was never able to overcome my hesitation to request you to visit the quiz page of my website.Now honestly speaking  I regret and I repent for that hesitation.

The moment I got the news of your demise I remember a file as old as 23 years old.

Once this file was like a treasure box to me. It was that where I used to keep all paper cuttings of your quiz pages published in The Telegraph and The Statesman.I do nto know how many afternoon or late night I gulped these cuttings running through each and every gem that you brought for us when there was no internet and no Google.You were Mr Google for us and these paper cuttings were our search engine.I tried to locate that file in my house and

My old file full of paper cuttings from newspapers where you used to compile quiz.A delight in dust.

My old file full of paper cuttings from newspapers where you used to compile quiz.A delight in dust.

finally last Sunday with much of my delight I found it.The  file found under the lump of dust and cobweb is still pregnant with plethora of yellow paper cuttings from The Statesman. It was a delight found in dust. I tried to read as many as possible of all those yellow papers through out the day.There was your face on the corner of each box and there was your note giving introduction to a subject or informing about an impending quiz coming up in Asansol. There was the space titled “11th question” reserved for the best question of the week.There was you saying silently but candidly that welcome to the world of general knowledge.Enjoy the power of wisdom.

Rest in peace Neil uncle.Be assured that your revolution is not dead and it will never be dead till the time human mind will look for light and will look for intellectual evolution.

Bet Regards.

Yours beloved


please visit my quiz page.

please visit my quiz page.






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Hello Indian August – how our grandparents welcomed freedom 68 years ago ?

The front page of Calcutta's The Statesman a day before of independence - photo by author.

The front page of Calcutta’s The Statesman a day before of independence – photo by author.

A chapter in the book “Freedom at Midnight” by Dominique Lapierre & Larry Collins that I read many years ago in Pune knocked me three years back while I was going through some old newspaper archives. I tried to match what I heard from many of those old timers who had seen the day India got her freedom & the same time got her arms amputated.How freedom came to us on that cloudy friday ? Was it celebration all around or it was gloom as dark as midnight ? Was Neheru’s ” tryst with destiny” was enough to make people free or there was a cavern of doubt how life will go when home is lost ? What the man named Mahatma Gandhi was doing on that day ? Was he still a hero of the nation or the most hated to many ?

Freedom came to us with a heavy price.The blood & devastation that was seen in Europe during 2nd world war was almost revisited this sub-continent in that August of 1947.Still India survived & rocked. The chapter in that book titled ” Oh Lovely Dawn of Freedom ” describes how common people, leaders,Brits experienced the first day of freedom at various parts of India.For someone it was the darkest morning & for some it was the brightest dawn.For one leader it was the day of victory while for other it was the biggest failure of his political career. Finishing this the said chapter of this book had overtaken me so deeply that I had called my 65 years old father in Calcutta from Pune to know his experience of that day.Recently while discarding some old papers from my office desk I found three front page of three major newspaper published from Bombay,Calcutta & New Delhi on Friday 15th August 1947. As soon as I gone inside of them cutting teeth a little deeper inside of every news printed I found myself taken away with a time that is frozen in those newspaper pages.It pushed me to read few more books to realize that India of that August was not a land of fun & frolic.It was the place that even God can not handle properly.

India as an independent nation was born politically on 15th August 1947.I read somewhere

Amrita Bazar Patrika - few days before independence photo from internet.

Amrita Bazar Patrika – few days before independence photo from internet.

that initially it was decided that freedom will be gained in June 1948 because the gargantuan task of allocating assets between India & Pakistan was far from completion & still there was massive border de-marking dispute at various districts of Punjab & Bengal.However a political tumult in England changed the plan & freedom came to us few month before culminating some never ending issues.

Bombay : August 1947 – City with a broken spirit & divided from inside.

In upscale residential area of Bombay’s Malabar Hills a huge palatial house with lawn was calm on that day.It’s owner one of the top advocate of Bombay High Court was on tour with his younger sister.He was not holidaying .

One of the tallest tower of secularism - Md Ali Jinnah never thought to sell of his Bombay residence.

One of the tallest tower of secularism – Md Ali Jinnah never thought to sell of his Bombay residence.- photo from internet.

He was out to carve his name in the history of mankind with an unimaginable significance.The man by birth a Gujarati but by his life style an Englishman was Md Ali Jinnah the first & only man so far in the history of mankind who created a land for Islamic people even with out knowing what islamic country means.He was a muslim not knowing that during Ramzaan religious people keep fast in day time. He was such a muslim who does not know that there can not be any painting of Prophet. He was such a muslim who loves bacon & ham in his breakfast & the finest whisky in his evening relaxation.For months he used to stay in the most expensive sea facing suite of Bombay’s Taj Mahal hotel.He spent his honeymoon in Darjeeling’s Mount Everest Hotel one of the most expensive hotel of that time. He was the man with unquestionable dedication to secularism much more than Gandhi.It was Jinnah who had the guts to castigate Gandhi’s decision to mix politics with Islamic sentiment.It was he who wanted to take an official proposal to thank Rabindranath Tagore in a Congress session for his decision to return knighthood to British Govt in the protest of Jaliwanalabagh massacre in 1919.No logic can ever work to calculate how this man changed so much in last 7 years & wanted a direct action on the street of Calcutta to get his dreamland called Pakistan.He was in Karachi on that August .He took his responsibilities as head of the state of newly born Pakistan & in his first speech made on 11th August 1947 he made it clear that he does not understand anything other than secularism.He addressed his nation by saying “ you are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Front page of The Times of India - 15th August 1947 - photo from internet.

Front page of The Times of India – 15th August 1947 – photo from internet.

Thus was a man who divided India but did not disconnect himself from Bombay.He never thought for moment to sell his dream house of Malabar Hills.He requested Neheru to rent it out for any foreign embassy so that it is kept in proper shape.He only shifted his body not his soul out of Bombay.He always had a dream to come back to this great city where he had everything of his life.Pakistan was only his place of work and never his home.His home was always Bombay.Was not Bombay the great city crying too for his one of the brightest citizen who only to settle an ego clash with Hindu leaders had gone mad to create a thing which he himself never thought a practical one ?

Tension prevailed everywhere.Few days back a riot broke in Crawford market area & army was marching almost every road of Bombay .The city had just witnessed Naval mutiny & uprising in support of INA soldiers.Communist Party was out to explain people that ” yeh azadi jutha hain“. Ganesh Utsav the biggest festival of marathi people was approaching near but with a low spirit.( a years back riding on the popularity of Netaji Bose many image of Ganesh was made in INA uniform rendering the same posture of Netaji’s Delhi cholo).Bombay in 1947 was a city of one leader that is Bose & not anyone else.

Bombay film world was divided house on the eve of independence.It was already suffering a shortage of technicians mostly Germans who were either arrested or fled Bombay during 2nd world war.Bombay Talkies was passing through a crisis . Ashok Kumar one of the top hero & his partner already parted relation with Devika Rani. Ashok Kumar with Shashadhar Mukherjee had formed a new production house named Filmisthan Studio.Many talented actors & actress were crossing borders. Noor Jahan the golden voice of Bombay decided to

Taj Mahal Hotel of Bombay - then one of the best in Asia.On that day common people crowded it's portico to celebrate freedom - photo by author.

Taj Mahal Hotel of Bombay – then one of the best in Asia.On that day common people crowded it’s portico to celebrate freedom – photo by author.

move Paksitan while from Lahore a young Punjabi actor Pran moved to Bombay.A boy of early 20s name B R Chopra & a small girl named Geeta Bali have already landed Bombay as refugee loosing all in the hand of muslims in western Punjab.Kidar Sharma directed Neel Kamal was completed by that time introducing two legend on the same movie viz Raj Kapoor & Madhubala for the first & last time. Saigal decided to stay back.So were the Kapoors & Yusuf Khan. Suraiya stayed back & thank God Md Rafi also ( no doubt Allah is great ).Most of the muslim preferred Bombay as theie home over Lahore or Karachi. Bombay won over Lahore in talent draining. Kismat the movie was still running in Bombay echoing the spirit of freedom.

Indian People Theatre Association ( IPTA) the cultural wing of Communist Party of India was very strong in Bombay.It was already teamed up with people like Ravi Shankar,Prwithraj Kapoor, Ismat Chugtai, Saddat Hassan Manto,Bijone Bhattacharya,Dev Anand,Kisan Chand & Khowaja Ahmed Abbas etc.While almost everyone preferred to stay back in India the most talented of them Manto did the bigget mistake of his life.He left Bombay & moved to Lahore only to die a broken hearted after few years. Manto’s loss was perhaps the biggest loss of Bombay on that August.

The city celebrated as usual.

Local people flooded the street.From Marine Drive to Chaupatty people touched almost every landmark of Bombay.A huge mob even shown the audacity to enter the citadel of Taj Mahal Hotel turning the luxury hotel into a mass play ground. While common Marathi people were celebrating many of those who had started hating Gnadhi from their heart were planning a different game at various places of Bombay,Pune & Nagpur.

The Gate way of India another marvelous Indo-Euro colonial architecture was witnessing the most significant implication of India’s independence.It is from here batch

Gate way of India Bombay - the symbolic monument through which the last British soldier left the Indian shore in 1948 - Photo by author.

Gate way of India Bombay – the symbolic monument through which the last British soldier left the Indian shore in 1948 – Photo by author.

after batch of British army were doing the farewell parade of leaving the shore of India ever since London had decided to leave New Delhi on it’s own fate.Though the last batch of army left India on 28th February 1948 it all started from August through Gate way of India.Somerset Light Infantry the last batch of British army finally left Bombay ( thus from India ) on 28th February 1948.The last commander John Plat received a small silver replica of this Bombay monument from General Bateman symbolizing the last memento of a colony which in reality British never counted as colony but a 2nd home.

Calcutta – August 1947 : A city sleeping on the sack of explosive.

A year back on 16th August 1946 Calcutta saw how Muslim League riot mongers ravaged the city for 48 hours & then how hindu-sikh combined force over took the mayhem & ensured a double degree retaliation.Infact the conspiracy plotted by Muslim League back fired badly in Calcutta.It started well by plan killing thousand of hindus for two full days by keeping police inactive under the instruction of Shaheed Suhrawady but from 3rd day such a horrific reply was rendered by hindus & sikhs that it really smashed al gambit of Direct Action called by Jinnah.

As a revenge Muslim League selected Noakhali a non-descriptive district of East Bengal with only 17% hindu population. There from 9th October 1946 to next 15 days the most brutal abuse of mankind was done with no protection offered to hindus from Government.Gandhiji visited the place after few months only to tell hindu girls to consume poison before being raped & hindu men to flee Noakhali if they want to be alive – such was a father we had behind our shoulder in that dark time !

In such an explosive atmosphere Calcutta was no mood to dance in joy when freedom arrived.

Gandhiji was again in Calcutta & camped at Hydari Manzil a dilapidated muslim owned house

Gandhiji at Calcutta on 15th August 1947 - photo from internet.

Gandhiji at Calcutta on 15th August 1947 – photo from internet.

in eastern part of the city.This locality was such where in 1946 hindu mobs did ravaged muslims. Still a sizeable muslim population was there in a slum called Miyabagan basti. Gandhi instead of going to any area where hindus were butchered and looted selected Beliagahta thinking he is doing a great service to mankind. The day when freedom finally came to India the man named Gandhi who remained a poster boy of Indian struggle of independence to world for last 30 years was a broken & vanquished man. He was in a house where not a single lamp of celebration was lit up.In every refugee camp across Punjab,Bengal & Delhi people were asking blood of Gandhi for his political failure to prevent partition.In Calcutta Gandhi was keeping a fast .His Beliagahata house was over crowded with cheering people coming from various corners of the city but Gandhi did not speak to anyone except Prafulla Ghosh the newly

Calcutta's Governor House - it's gate was opened to public on the first day of freedom & they entered to damage oil paintings 7 carpets of the palace thinking freedom allows all these - photo by author.

Calcutta’s Governor House – it’s gate was opened to public on the first day of freedom & they entered to damage oil paintings & carpets of the palace thinking freedom allows all these – photo by author.

appointed chief minister of West Bengal & few more .

Till last midnight more news of loot,arson,rape and killing were coming to Gandhi & he was trying his best to ventilate that to Suhrawady the leader of Muslim League. In evening he took a stroll in the city in his Chevrolet & everywhere he was greeted with warm cordiality.People were cheering Vande Mataram & Gandhiji zindabad.

Tram ran free all through out the day carrying people. Gate of Governor House was open ajar in morning & mob entered inside of the great palace.It was time when last British Governor Sir Fredrick Burrows & his wife were having breakfast in one room of the palace.People from nearby slums also took an entry thinking in a free nation no one can stop an Indian to do any non sense at anywhere.They even walked barefoot on the carpet. Some of them even jumped on the beds. Some of them damaged oil paintings of various British rulers by stabbing with their umbrella – Aha it was the meaning of freedom to many of us.

The game of changing name of roads started as soon as freedom came to Calcutta. The first road that got a new name in independent Bengal was Clive Road in Dalhousie square.It named as Netaji Subhash Road after a man whom Bengal or say India expected to arrive at red fort as a victor in 1945. Bose by August 1947 was either dead or was perishing in a Russian prison.

Bengal bleeds : People forgot that with Punjab another province is also partitioned.

Common people specially Bengali Hindus of east Bengal were mostly shivering in panic.

Front page of The Statesman reporting the Great Calcutta Killing - a year before of Independence.Photo by author.

Front page of The Statesman reporting the Great Calcutta Killing – a year before of Independence.Photo by author.

In east Bengal on that time nearly 80 % of land was owned by hindus where as in size of population they were just 30% plus. So it was evident & sure that soon hindu lands will be targeted by muslims . Noakhali the small island like place of East Bengal where only 17% hindus were almost butchered by muslims in October 1946 was still in every hindus nightmare. From Dhaka to Khulna & from Chittagong to Faridpur everywhere hindu property & girls were under threat. In places like Dhaka, Rajshahi, Sylett the atmosphere was tensed.A stream of hindu refugee already started to cross the border while many Urdu speaking muslims from Bihar & Uttar Pradesh were migrating to Dhaka thinking as a muslim they will be cordially accepted by Bengali speaking muslims. How grossly wrong they were will be proved in 1971 when Bengali muslim of East Paksitan will count Urdu speaking muslim an equal enemy to them.

In 1947 My father was 11 years old.

In his village Joara of Chittagong ( a small village near India Burma border ) there was no communal tension. Chittagong was a Hindu – Buddhist majority district & by no chance it was supposed to be a part of Pakistan but Cyril Radcliffe found a creative logic to make a mess.The man responsible for border demarcation a job which needs atleast 5 years tried to finish it in two months. He has never visited India before. Knowing nothing about how things matter in social life of India Radcliffe thought he knows his job best.He included Chittagong into Pakistan showing that this land mass has no direct connectivity with India.He did not get enough time to see the map with minimum attention that Chittagong has connectivity with Indian state Mizoram & that should have been logically included to India. So my parent’s family who had a sure chance to become citizen

Cartoon published in Calcutta based Amrita Bazar Patrika on 15th August 1947 showing the declining British power - photo from internet.

Cartoon published in Calcutta based Amrita Bazar Patrika on 15th August 1947 showing the declining British power – photo from internet.

of India were pushed to Pakistan where till 1964 they somehow managed to survive. My father was always able to recollect the day when independence came. In his village school every student got an apple from school management. Muslim League party workers distributed Pakistan national flag in all hindu families with a request ( read it threat rather ) to hoist it. My father’s family was known to Congress leaned. My Pishamosai ( Paternal Aunt’s husband ) Jatindra Mohan Rakshit was a well known Congress leader who used work closely with Nellie Sengupta wife of late Congress leader Jyotimdramohan Sengupta & Kalpana Joshi ( earlier Dutta ) co-worker of Surya Sen & later wife of Puran Chand Joshi one of the top Communist Party of India’s leader My two aunts ( Preeti Nandi & Rani Rakshit ) spent nearly 2 months with the team that camped with Mahatma Gandhi at Noakhali. Thanks to all these connection they were under the watch. My father could not recall whether Pakistan flag was indeed hoisted at his home or not on 15th August 1947 but he clearly could recollect that at school the flag was hoisted. My grand father Dhirendranath Sen was already retired from his job in Corporation & was having a peaceful life in his village. He had no plan or any idea to leave Pakistan because there was a clear confidence among hindus that no one can dislodge them from the land which they have owned for several centuries. He died just three years after this in 1950 & by that time massacre of hindus in the hand of muslim & large scale grabbing of hindu properties all over East Pakistan were a reality. Village after village hindus left everything behind to save their lives & dignities to chose a life spent on the slums & refugee camps in West Bengal.

Chittagong was more or less not that impacted till 1964. In 1964 a riot broke out in

15th August 1947 - first page of The Statesman published from Calcutta - photo by author.

15th August 1947 – first page of The Statesman published from Calcutta – photo by author.

Calcutta & everything changed. The knife of Islamic nation was out to slit throat of every hindus & my father found his motherland a most uncertain reality. Hindus were already deprived in scope of jobs & education in east Pakistan . It was not easy to leave everything for him. Out of his three brothers 2 preferred to stay back in Pakistan while the youngest one ( my father) left his job at Lipton Pakistan Limited in 1964 and started his life as a refugee in Calcutta. Luck is kind that he got a job in Duncan Brothers very shortly.

At Jessore, Kushthia & Khulna it was a celebration time for hindus. On 14th August mid night every household hoisted Indian national flag thinking these three hindu dominated district all bordering Indian soil can never go to Pakistan. Many people started investing in land & other properties.Some apprehensive people who wanted to cross to India on 13th August were prevented by local CPI leaders assuring that there is no need to leave these places because these all are going to be a part of India. A similar sequence was found in Murshidabad district where 67% strong muslims celebrated the day by hoisting Pakistan flag. Dinajpur district in north Bengal was in doubt till 18th August. Balurghat the main town remained in India while a major part was given to Pakistan. It was only a matter of three days when it was announced that Khulna,Jessore,Kushthia & Sylett will be a part of Pakistan while Murshidabad will be a part of India for the sake of saving Calcutta port’s navigability.

Punjab : August 1947 – non stop dance of death :

It is blood and only blood every where.

Death & more death - Punjab saw it all in 1947 - photo from internet.

Death & more death – Punjab saw it all in 1947 – photo from internet.

In Lahore muslims were killing hindus & in Amritsar hindus & sikhs were killing muslims in equal brutality.Girls were getting abducted and gang raped on both side in equal beastly way.In Patiala Sikhs lead the killing of muslims who were trying to flee Paksitan where as train after train full of hindus and sikhs were getting butchered by muslims almost everyday. On 15th August a train from Lahore arrived at Amritsar station with no sound of passengers.When station master curiously got inside the train he found only dead bodies in the pool of blood.It was a sight even God can not tolerate. Amputated head of man was found on the lap of his wife.Killed son’s body was found on the arms of mother and most horrific is that on the wall of

The Great Calcutta Killing - riot on direct action day- photo from internet.

The Great Calcutta Killing – riot on direct action day- photo from internet.

that compartment some one has written in white lime brush ” Gift from Pakistan to India ‘.Few days back a similar train arrived at Lahore station. This time also there was no sound from any passenger when the train arrived at station.This time on the wall there was writiing in blood that read ” Gift from India to Pakistan”. Few days after at Amritsar railway station a young Punjabi Hindu boy of 22 years was seating next to his 18 years old pregnant wife.They lost everything at their home in Lahore & now going to New Delhi knowing nothing what to do.He had a wish to do further study & wanted to serve his country as IAS. In that day on the platform of Amritsar station with lakhs of other people in an horrific atmosphere he was trying hard to console

Gujral - then a refugee who was PM of India 50 years after that.- photo from internet.

Gujral – then a refugee who was PM of India 50 years after that.- photo from internet.

his weeping wife who might have thought all is over for her & her unborn baby in the womb.The station was full of dead bodies & platform was wet with blood.Foul smell was in air & there was no place for women to go for sanitation.Still he with all other members managed to catch a train that finally took them to Delhi from Lahore via Amritsar. 50 years after that nightmarish experience the same man had the honor to hoist India’s national flag from Red fort as prime minister of India celebrating first fifty years of freedom.Destiny smiled to Inder Kumar Gujral just 50 years after a long journey.Another victims of partition who fled India & then made a mark in politics are Manmohan Singh . Lal Krishna Advani left his home in Karachi in Sindh & came India as refugee.

New Delhi – August 1947 : The ” new” Delhi rejoiced while “old” had a sleepless night.

Floods of uprooted people from west Punjab and Sindh at refugee camps of Delhi's Purana Qila - photo from internet.

Floods of uprooted people from west Punjab and Sindh at refugee camps of Delhi’s Purana Qila – photo from internet.

Freedom meant nothing for those lakhs of hindu & Sikhs families who were perishing that day at various refugee camps of Delhi and around. It was the hell India had never seen before.

Punjab & Sindh were burning ever since Hindu had ensured a revenge of Noakhali killing in Bihar.In Lahore electricity & water supply were cut to all hindu areas.In Rawalpindi ,Karachi & other places hindus & sikhs were passing through the most horrific nightmare of their lives.Rotten dead bodies were spreading foul smell almost evey railway station near Delhi. At the stroke of midnight hour of 14th August Jawaharlal Neheru delivered an epoch making speech describing his journey to the day as “ tryst with destiny “.Sucheta Kripalini sang “Vande Mataram” in the parliament.

Neheru earlier had a fight with Babu Rajendra Prasad who after consulting some astrologers found that 15th August is not a sacred day to pro-claim independence.A man with modern outlook like Neheru this was just a pure non-sense & he rejected the proposal to change date immediately. Next morning lakhs of people came on the street of New Delhi only knowing that ” British are going & we are free “.

Free ! Free at what cost & free at what for ?

Nobody bothered to understand. New Delhi then was still a baby city compared to gigantic Calcutta, Bombay & Madras.From India Gate to Raisana Hills over the Viceroy house the dream city of Lutyenn & David Baker turned into a human sea. At 5 pm Neheru hoisted the flag from red fort & illumination donned every corner of South & North Block.Louis Mountbatten the last viceroy with wife got introduced to Neheru’s ministers & some of the ministers whom Neheru himself forgot last evening were asked to take oath.The rajpath was janpath on that day.

Old Delhi was rolling under communal tension at specific pocket but New Delhi had no time to give freedom a miss.From south block to Birla temple all significant buildings were illuminated.Celebration was every where almost.

At Purna qila,Humayun Thomb & other places life was passing through it’s darkest phase

Front page of The Hindustan Times - 15th August 1947 - photo from internet

Front page of The Hindustan Times – 15th August 1947 – photo from internet

for million of refugees.Leaving all behind at western Punjab & Sindh people were perishing there.Gandhi’s death was prayed at many places while many of them walked in the rally of freedom thinking now everything will be fine.The front page of Hindustan Times Delhi’s highest circulating newspaper carried advertisement of shops saying to help refugees.This shows many of those uprooted Punjabis have already started a new life there in a new unknown city.New Delhi got a chance to rebirth with independence & partition. Only becasue of partition it experienced an un-predictable growth as an urban jungle that no city in India had ever seen before.

It was a time when India had very few telephone lines.Newspapers circulation was limited to cities and town while radio was rarest of the rare product in village. India finally broke the shackle of British dominance after 200 years.It is evident that this news did not reach many places of India even 5 years after 1947. In many places people keep on believing that their country is still ruled by Bilaiti Laatshab. Still freedom came to our grand parents. Our parents who were very young thus known as midnights children who got a freedom much different of what they thought.

Nearly 70 years after that mid-nights grand children like us still see that day with deep pain & pangs.It is not that freedom walked into our lives with partition.Partition was unavoidable & in some context a blessing for us.It is the ignorance of people how freedom arrived to us .We only know how to celebrate – we were never taught how to introspect & how to derive lesson from mistakes.

In support of the above the best example I found in an article published in today’s The Statesman.Describing the reports & advertisement published in The Statesman dated 15th August 1947 author has pointed out an advertisement published by a bank showing lower per capita income of India of that era ( that was only Rs 65 compared to Rs of England 980 & Rs 1406 of USA ) & advised a hard-workship to all Indian to go ahead.Author very optimistically concluded his article saying 68 years after today UK’s economy is growing 2.6 % per year & USA’s economy is growing 2.4% per year.India the poorest of that three in 1947 ( & still the poorest among them ) is able to give a growth of 7.4% per year.

So we have no reason to look back our wasted years when economy was under shackles

No doubt it is a great country !!!!!

Reference :

English Books & Periodicals :

The Last Days of Raj by Trevor Royle

The Mumbai Factfile by Derek O Brien

Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre & Larry Collins

The Man Who Divided India by Rafiq Zakaria

Liberty Or Death by Patrick French

Pages From The Past – A Statesman Collection.

Bengal Divided – Unmaking of a Nation by Nitish Sengupta

Remembering India’s Freedom At Midnight by Raja Murthy – The Statesman dated 15th August 2015

Sahibs Who Loved India – Edited by Khushwant Singh

Bengali :

Hastantar by Shankar Ghosh

Bangla Bhag Holo by Jaya Chatterjee

Read more of Somen Sengupta –

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Emotional gambit of a titan : Political mistakes of Netaji Bose could not overshadow his gargantuan image.

Bose in Europe during mid 1930s- In our country an icon can not do a wrong - So is Bose.

Bose in Europe during mid 1930s- In our country an icon can not do a wrong – So is Bose – photo from internet.

My good friend for many years Amitabha Gupta recently “crowned” me with a pestilential adjective.He called me a ” Bose basher “.He feels my political perspective is so blind that I badly differ from many of the Indian (& most of the Bengali) that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is the ultimate icon of Indian freedom struggle & his failure to enter India with the help of Axis force during 2nd world war is the biggest opportunity that India lost.My friend for 23 years Subhasish Das who once played a role almost similar of a  light house of wisdom in many fields of my life often goes ruthless in castigating me the moment I try to explain history with logic. It clearly & very sadly shows that history  in this country is not read with brain but by heart & when history is read by heart it is bound to take a wrong destiny. A poor me always cornered in such a discussion ( not by logic but by emotional tumult & sentimental appeal ) finally had decided to give up but in last few weeks when again name of  Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is rocking in media I have once agian gathered courage in me to explain my point & this time in writing.

I have no wish of showing the audacity to belittle the gargantuan contribution that Netaji Bose did in India’s freedom struggle.I am not an Indian communist of 1940s who loves to enjoy his morning cup of tea with obnoxious cartoons published on Bose in People’s War the mouthpiece of Communist Party of India in those days.I am also not a backbone-less Congress joker who for the sake of collecting blessing of a family will try to suppress Netaji’s contribution in India’s freedom struggle. Myself a mid aged man with some average amount of knowledge has collected information from various sources &  that powered me to evaluate history with an opinion as rational as possible.This power somehow backed me to recheck Netaji Bose,his political thinking,his assessment of world power all in the time in which he lived & died.

Subhash babu –  The leader India awaited ”   

A man who can ignore a  glorious career of ICS in 1920 only to work for his country needs no word to prove his intention. No national leader in India of his time was so candid & honest in gesture to start his political career . Gandhi & Neheru first tried to make a career in law & both failed miserably.Then one fine morning Gandhi vanished to South Africa a country where no top class professional of that era used to go & Neheru son of a super rich became an activist of Home Rule League.A generation before Md Ali Jinha, Chittaranjan Das & Motilal Neheru were the rare examples who left a booming law practice in Bombay,Calcutta & Allahabad High court

Subhash Chandra  Bose on the cover of American Times magazine  after electing President of Indian National Congress in 1938 - Photo from internet.

Subhash Chandra Bose on the cover of American Times magazine after electing President of Indian National Congress in 1938 – Photo from internet.

respectively to become a part of freedom movement. Subhash Chandra Bose was in that class. He soon became all India president of youth Congress. Then mayor of Calcutta & finally president of Indian National Congress at the age of 42 the youngest at that time.Within a year Bose emerged as the main leader clearly distinctive from Gandhi school of politics & rocked the boat of Congress by winning a presidential election against the wish of a dictator named M K Gandhi in 1939. It was just unimaginable in India of that era & Bose made it happen.Then his luck left him & he  regained it  soon with sheer determination & passion. A man caged in his own house by Calcutta police fled one night in incognito to reach Kabul in Afganisthan. From there he went to Moscow & from there to Berlin.From Berlin to an Indonesian island via Africa under the sea in a submarine.From there to Tokyo by air & from Tokyo to Singapore.From Singapore to Bangkok & many places of Burma.In between life gave him the last chance to set his foot on India in Port Blair of Andaman island for a brief period. Finally perhaps his journey ended either in a small island of Taiwan or in a dark prison cell of Russia.In this journey Bose faced death in every step.If not death it was apprehension,neglect & doubt that were impounded on him by every country he visited.In every place he was a man under vivid watch.In every move he was followed by spies & informers. Life was never easy for a man who could have enjoy a near luxury life of writing ” Discovery of India ” or long letters to his daughter from prison cell.Neither he had the chance to sing  raghupati raghava raja ram in evening under to great comfort of G D Birla in his palatial houses of Calcutta & Delhi.Bose choose a life that a only real patriot must take & he paid the biggest price for that.He left his wife & 3 months old daughter behind & could never meet them again.He tasted the most painful death in a land where no relative was there to comfort him.He remained the biggest cause of concern for Allied force then fighting it’s toughest battle in oriental theatre  of 2nd world war.

A prince among patriots - that is how Gandhi paid homage to Bose.Photo from internet.

A prince among patriots – that is how Gandhi paid homage to Bose.Photo from internet.

So where Bose was wrong ? As a patriot he was wrong no where.Rather he was a prince among all as described by none other than Gandhi in 1945 when Gandhi himself was a rejected furniture in his own house named Congress Party. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose does not fall short there.He falls short in his choice of action & in almost every stage of his political life Bose committed the same old mistake.

A warrior by nature – a leaning towards army cult  

As I walk deep into Bose’s life not through the biography written by sycophants but by serious scholar of history I cultivate more and more signals proving that inside of his high educated sophisticated Bengali entity Subhash Chandra Bose always had a sharp leaning towards war fare & army cult.It first came in sight in 1928 Calcutta Congress when Subhash as a chief of reception committee organised a huge parade in military uniform at Park Circus maidan the venue of the meeting.President elected Motilal Neheru was given a guard of honor by Subhash & his young followers something unimaginable in a Congress culture.Though it made him a hero among young & restless he was by large ridiculed by Bengali press of Calcutta & by Mahatma Gandhi himself who was unkind enough to say  this initiative as ” circus of Park Circus”.In mid of 1930 when Subhash was in Europe for many years he was almost captivated by seeing strong military control of Nazi Germany & fascist Italy.His auto biography which he wrote & published in Europe clearly stated that of his desire to equip with an Indian army which will take on Britain in

Netaji Bose having a meal  in his Europe days - photo from internet.

Netaji Bose having a meal in his Europe days – photo from internet.

war.Even when he himself became president of Haripura Congress in 1938 he was received from station to Congress camp in a huge military typed procession & needless to say Bose enjoyed every moment of this.The moment 2nd world war started in Europe Bose concluded very innocently that this is the time when India can achieve it’s freedom through a military power backed by any country that is fighting against Britain.This very simple equation made him almost aimless & he took it granted that USSR will help an Indian force to enter India to topple British rule during this war.He fled the country  & tried his best to contact USSR from Kabul & the result was just fruitless. Bose not only wasted time there but also exposed his weak power of calculation about a nation like USSR.A dejected & confused Bose opted for Italy & Germany knowing almost nothing about their plan for India.This was the just a beginning of his political wrong moves.

In Germany – The fatal miscalculation of a tall leader : 

Netaji taking guard of honor of Indian Legion in Germany - photo from internet.

Netaji taking guard of honor of Indian Legion in Germany – photo from internet.

Failed to make any inroads into the heart of USSR Bose took a path that he himself was not sure where it would take him at the end. He arrived Berlin from Moscow & was well received by Germany.The entire arrangement was done through Italian Consulate of Moscow.Recent research has revealed that at this part Bose was under the observation of British spy & they willingly allowed Bose to move Nazi Germany as they wanted to expose a negative image of Bose in the eye of common people. It was time when Germany & USSR were not in war by an inked agreement but in secret chamber of Berlin Hitlar was planning to attack USSR. Bose after reaching Berlin as usual remained super optimistic that USSR,Germany,Italy & Japan will form a new collaborated power as all hate Great Britain.It is surprising that with his vast experience of world politics of that era he was not able to access that Japan’s interest & Germany’s interest in this war has no common point at all.

Bose with German officers in Indian Legion - photo from internet.

Bose with German officers in Indian Legion – photo from internet.

Bose found the time  as a scope to gain the advantage of pushing his agenda of India’s freedom.The fall of Paris in the hand of Germany & the fall of Singapore in the hand of Japan gave him an unlimited amount of  optimism that this war is destined to go for Axis power. The reality indeed was Germany was more keen of attacking USSR than attacking Britain.In 1939 Hitlar attacked Poland only because it has a land connectivity to Soviet Union. Hitlar’s original aim was to capture Ukrain from Soviet Union &  as a person Hitlar had no time to think for a country like India.India’s independence was just a poor joke in his imagination. Hitlar used to carry  a very low respect for India & Gandhi.He was once suggested Churchill to solve India problem in one second – just shoot Gandhi.

Netaji in full military uniform - his passion for military war fare is visible in his entire life - photo from internet.

Netaji in full military uniform – his passion for military war fare is visible in his entire life – photo from internet.

In Hitlar’s Germany Bose was given a warm hospitality but with very little importance. Rather he was under watch for 24 hours. German official received him as a tool of anti Britain propaganda.  After spending few days in Esplanade Hotel he was given a palace like house to stay in the Charlottenburg in Berlin, a luxury car with driver, a cook, several servent with best food & drinks.His Austrian wife Emilie Schenkl whom he secretly married in 1937 in Europe ( but never ever broke the news to his relative ) soon joined him there.It was the time when  for a very brief period he had a normal family life & soon a daughter was born at then end of 1942. In between Bose traveled to Italy & met Mussolini with a wish to derive his military support but got a cold shoulder. Soon he reaslied that depending on Italy will be a gross mistake & started negotiating with German military officers.He was first allowed to open an Indian Legion which was nothing but a group of Indian POW taken from Africa & Asia.Out of 17000 such soldiers only 14 people first came forward & then nearly 3500 people responded to Bose’s call to join his Indian Legion with uniform,very little arms but with no clear objective.They were taken to camp where under German military officers they used to do march past . Here the word ” Azad Hind ” was coined & the slogan ” Jai Hind” was born on 2nd November 1941. Bose also got his immortal title ” Netaji” meaning the leader. A flag of Azad Hind with a “springing tiger” in it’s centre was also designed. A factory in Viena named Rudolf Souval  started producing stars,metal tiger head,sword,badge,medal,trophy and many more attractive stationary.Bose & his soldiers decorated them selves with all those but not much of military skill needed to wage a war against Britain.

A German military officer with Netaji Bose in his Germany days ( 1941-1943) - photo from internet.

A German military officer with Netaji Bose in his Germany days ( 1941-1943) – photo from internet.

The actual “support”  that is the military   training from German Army was very insignificant. Hitlar & his senior officers were almost sure that an Indian can do anything but not war.With very slow & insipid progress of this Indian Legion Bose wanted to engage his army in front & expressed his view to German Govt but they found it just an impractical one.Bose offered his force to march to India with German force & to invade from western front .The expense of the war assumed to be taken from Germany in form of loan which an Independent India will repay after attaining freedom ! With that Bose tried to sale his theory of German-Japan-USSR-Italy collaboration to crush British imperialism.This is just astonishing that a leader of Bose level could not realise the imperialistic attitude of each of these countries ? He took them so innocent that they will share their lives & money for the sake of India ? German official threw the Bose’s idea into the nearest dustbin & still he was allowed to open “Free India centre” with some local Indians.It’s activities remained limited in printing anti Britain write ups & radio broadcasting by Bose himself. Known as Azad Hind Radio it started broadcasting Bose’s speech & non stop anti British propaganda in various Indian languages. It is from here Bose announced the world & specially to Indian that he is alive & kicking in Germany. Knowing uopn Subhash Bose’s presence in Germany under the shadow of Nazi’z Romain Rolland wrote ” Chandra Bose to Berlin…received by Hitlar.Once more he has made the plunge. At one time to the right,at another to the left.Moscow,Berlin,Tokyo….these Bengalis violent, impulsive,never a politics of reasons,they obey the somersaults of their passion,victim of their own vulnerability to jealousy,vanity stung to the quick by fleshwounds”.Immodest it may sound but fact remains a rosy picture was sold from these broadcasting to Indian subcontinent by Bose himself. In 1942 Bose in his one of the radio speech informed all fellow Indians that “ I can tell you with all seriousness that the three powers ( Japan,Germany & Italy) want to set India free and independent”.When the war was no more going on right direction for Germany this kind of ” glorifying myth” ( that is the word Nirad C Chowdhury described Bose’s activity in Germany) was making no sense. Apart from all these Indian Independence day on 26th January was also celebrated with local Indian & German military person.It seems lot of cosmetic activities were there in Germany but there was hardly any solid initiative taken which could have shake Britain’s rule in India.

With his perplexing association with Nazi Germany Bose became a target of the press both in India & England.While in England he was given the adjective of “jackbooted fascist puppet” in India members of Communist Party of India started calling him the “running dog of imperialism”.Communist Party of India ( CPI) in those days was supported by Communist Party of Great Britain in the project of insulting Subhash Bose in their political organ.

Netaji Bose meeting Adolf Hitlar in May 1942 - Hitlar made is very clear that India's independence is not in his agenda.Photo from internet.

Netaji Bose meeting Adolf Hitlar in May 1942 – Hitlar made is very clear that India’s independence is not in his agenda.Photo from internet.

The reality says at that point of time apathy of Germany & Italy towards India was clear to Bose while Japan was not much in touch with him.Soon Hitlar’s attack to USSR left Bose devastated. He realized that he is spending time in a wrong place for too long. Gradually his Indian Legion became irregular.They started suffering very bad treatment in the hands of German officers & finally sent to  Italian front to fight where they found an inferior lot as far as military merits are concerned.

Bose gradually became too restless & annoyed .He started giving statement against Hitlar & Nazi. Finally after many effort he managed to get an appointment with Hitlar on 30th May 1942 & it turned out to be a fruitless show for him. In that meeting Hitlar clearly said to Bose on his face that he does not think India is capable of handling independence. Hitlar told this to Bose that he can not see the possibility of India’s freedom in next 150 years. He even explained how difficult it is to render logistics support  to an Indian force from Germany.Bose understood in short time that Germany now wants to part with him & Hitlar already has a plan to shift him to Asia by a submarine.

What he actually achieved in Germany from 1941 to 1943 ?

In nutshell not much – rather he wasted a golden chance. From a long distance he misread Germany.He was aware of it’s Nazi pitfalls but his blind hate towards British pushed him to a wrong corner.He had no idea while in India that Germany has a plan to attack Soviet Union & his dream of combining 4  abnormal Allied partner was just a baseless surmise. Logistically a support of German military to an Indian army from Germany was just impossible.

Bose at a reception of Indian  POW in Germany - photo from internet

Bose at a reception of Indian POW in Germany – photo from internet

Plus it is to be considered that in entire war German had no direct interest on India except considering it is a British colony.Hitlar was more keen of invading Russia rather than hitting a British colony in Asia.More to that the motivation of POW that Bose got in Germany was already very low.They were less of a patriot than a clever soldiers who knew pain mingled in life of POW.So joining an army in the name of soldiers  without any plan of war was an easy option for many of them to avoid  life of a prisoner.

Bose leading Indian National Army  – was Japan really serious about it ?

 As soon as the German romance was over for Bose to achieve freedom with their direct help he planned to shift his base to Asia from where India is logistically an easy destination. His request to transfer him to East Asia was finally granted. After few false commitment from Italy to transfer him by air to Japan finally Bose took the most dangerous risk of his life.He left his wife & 2 months old daughter in Austria & boarded a submarine that took him to Africa & from there he boarded another Japanese submarine which finally landed him at Indonesia.It was a voyage of three months.It will be better to note here that the secret communicated exchanged between German & Japanese army to transfer Bose from one submarine to another was decoded by Americans & Britain was informed about this. Still Bose was allowed to go Japan only to get expose his profound leaning on Japan another abominable imperil country.From there Bose was transported to Tokyo in Japan. In mid of 1943 2nd world war was close to it’s conclusion & there was no chance of Axis power to gain victory. It was best known to Germany,Japan & Italy. This is surprising  that Bose was still believing that he can gain freedom of India with Axis force.

Netaji Bose with his top INA soldiers - photo from internet.

Netaji Bose with his top INA soldiers – photo from internet.

It is already mentioned  earlier that Japan’s unimaginable success in Pearl Harbor in December 1941 & it’s surprising victory in capturing Singapore in February 1942 took the world by it’s biggest shock. The fall of Singapore was so devastating that Britain described it one of the biggest military failure in it’s war history.Getting upon the news of Singapore Winston Churchill later wrote ” I put the telephone down.I was thankful to be alone.In all the war I never received more direct shock.”   More than 100000 soldiers were captured in the hand of Japanese & many of them were destined to suffer the worst brutality of the war.

Bose had a confidence of Japan’s military supremacy & at that point of time Japan had also started air raid in Calcutta. Infact little bit of destruction that it done to Calcutta gave this confidence to Bose that now reaching India is  possible for him. Bose innocently thought Japan as it’s natural friend. Japan’s call of ‘Asia for Asians’ was still in air . Before coming to Japan Bose contacted Rashibehari Bose an Indian freedom fighter in exile who assured his help to co-ordinate things & to reorganise once almost disbanded Indian National Army.(INA)

From Tokyo to Singapore to Rangoon to Bangkok : a patriot trusting all who are not natural friend of India.

From Tokyo he arrived Singapore which was then conquered by Japan.

Indian National Army was already formed but active only on paper.It was Captain Mohan Singh an Indian army officer of British force who after becoming POW in the hand of Japan formed an armed force of 25000 POW. More than 35000 Indian POW refused to join this INA & soon it was almost disbanded because Mohan Singh returned to prison camp with 4000 such soldiers. Mohan Singh was so badly treated by Japanese that he gave up  his initiatives & preferred a life of POW rather than a head of a puppet army.

So when Bose landed at Singapore to take over the responsibility of INA it was a group of 21000 unorganised & aimless people.It was his sheer leadership & oratory power that Bose regrouped them into an army .He created a mayhem of patriotism among all Indian of that region & for the first time many of them saw such a tall leader of India from a close shot.His voice & personality with passion created such zingoism that many people joined INA only for Bose & it became popular among Indian community as the word “Netaji”. INA became a team of 60000 but out of that only 25000 had the proper training of warfare & rest were just emotional NRI youths. Netaji Bose could not gather courage to accept this fact that an emotional group of people is good for hysteria but not that good to perform in the battle field with support of a reluctant friend like Japan. Such an army was formed to take over none other than Allied force.From October 1943 to June 1944 INA was just an army doing several march past & singing good number of  patriotic songs at various function of Singapore & Rangoon.It was not sent to front to bite a single bullet till then.

Netaji taking guard of honor of INA in front of old Supreme court building at Singapore in 1943 - photo from internet.

Netaji taking guard of honor of INA in front of old Supreme court building at Singapore in 1943 – photo from internet.


As year 1944 came to an end Japan was slowly getting  exhausted & had no plan to invade India with INA. Although Japanese air-bombers bombed Calcutta on 5th December 1943 & caused considerable damage  at dock area it has no  serious plan to conquer Calcutta.Protecting Singapore or Rangoon was much more in priority for Tokyo than taking Netaji Bose to fort William of Calcutta or red fort of Delhi.

Old Supreme court building of Singapore - in front of this historical building Netaji accepted INA's command & a new saga of Indian struggle for independence started - photo by author.

Old Supreme court building of Singapore – in front of this historical building Netaji accepted INA’s command & a new saga of Indian struggle for independence started – photo by author.

  Early 1944 situation changed.To regain it’s lost glory of Singapore & Rangoon Allied gathered a huge force in Assam & Bengal to invade Burma .To retaliate 14th Army of common wealth Japan suddenly entered India in 1944 with a plan to capture Imphal & Kohima. Japanese army captured a place named Moirang on 14th April 1944 & before that on 8th April a part of Kohima was also taken under control. At Moirang INA was allowed to hoist India’s national flag.The exact role of INA in the battle of Moirang is not clear even today. Many historians are of the opinion that INA shared the battle field in equal number & it was the bravery of them that Allied army pushed back from Moirang. After independence Government of India has erected a monument there & also opened a war museum to remember the glorious battle of Manipur. We all often take huge pride of that thinking INA really fought side by side with Japanese army in that war & they indeed made Allied force flee from Moirang. Many historical accounts give an opposite version saying that in reality INA was not called in that battle in it’s peak time. Although Bose wanted INA to enter India first & Japan to follow but it was not entertained. Bose clearly wrote to the top Japanese military officials that “ the first drop of blood shed on Indian soil must be that of a soldier of the INA.Sadly it was not done.7000 INA soldiers were entered in Manipur after Japanese 15th Army & 28th Army but by that time war was almost over.The exact role of INA in the battle of Moirang is not clear even today.Bose himself was in Rangoon & he did not rush to war front even knowing the victory of Axis. The national flag of India ( as designed by INA ) was hoisted by  Colonel S A Malik of INA.This makes me stunt. Netaji who always talked about his arrival on the mainland India with a hope of creating an emotional mayhem among common people & expected to convert that tumult into the final strike on British India let this chance go so lightly ? The same Netaji made himself available at Port Blair in Andaman &  Nicobar island when that islands were captured & gifted to him by Japanese. A man of ultimate non-compromising attitude did not mind to receive a piece of his own motherland captured by Japanese.Was that event more glorious than this battle of Manipur which many think was a victory of Indians ? What made Bose away from Manipur after such a victory ? Was Bose realized by that time that he is just a namesake commander in chief of INA whose actual control is in Tokyo ? Was it clear that attack in Indian mainland it only a subject of Japan’s wish & not his plan ?  Was this realization meant that even he wants he can not mobilize his force by his own war plan ?

War memorial in Imphal war cemetery dedicated to Indian Hindu & Sikh soldiers who dies to prevent INA - photo by author.

War memorial in Imphal war cemetery dedicated to Indian Hindu & Sikh soldiers who dies to prevent INA – photo by author.

The little success tasted by Japanese ( & INA ) was very short lived. Soon Allied force became extremely offensive.The dream of Japanese to capture Imphal was soon reduced to dust as General Slim of Allied force arrived there with 60000 soldiers of 14th Army & air support. Imphal town was blocked for more than three months & finally INA suffered a massive defeat.It was verry clear from the battle of Manipur that Japan’s backing to INA was just a namesake.There was no air support from Mandalaya & there was no tank & advance weapon supplied to INA. The Japanese company named Hikarikikan responsible for supply chain proved to be a big flop.INA soldiers perished in great number. They were subject to endless suffering & discriminatory treatment by Japanese. Many of them surrendered to Allied force & most of them died of hunger,wounds & diseases. The loss of INA someone puts  7000 while someone puts it less than 500. An account given in the book ” The Last Days of the Raj” the statistics shows 700 deserted, 800 surrendered,400 killed & 1500 died in hospital. On the other hand Allied also lost more than 3000 soldiers giving evidence that it was indeed a gory battle & one of the toughest in that world war .Today in Imphal at 2nd world war cemetery there are 1603 grave of Euro-American soldiers while there are more than 1600 names found in the memorial of Indian soldiers who died in this battle .With no supply of food,medicine & other war commodities to INA on time Japan very clearly executed this message to Bose that their interest on him & Indian independence is over.They are now only interested to protect Singapore & Rangoon.From mid of June 1944 INA started pushing back to Burma where they were used by Japanese to guard Mandalaya. When Allied army was at the doorstep of Burma INA was used as a wall to protect Mandalaya. They were based at a place named Pagan & almost silently surrendered to Maratha Battillion.The war was so easy for Colonel Slim that he wrote in his diary ” This incident was I think the chief contribution of Indian Army made to either side in the Burma war”. Infact when Imphal war took place 2nd world war was almost won by Allied.Germany had a horrific defeat in Russia while in Pacific Japan was poorly collapsing everyday.In such an atmosphere Bose & his INA was more of a burden on Japan than an army of a friendly country.

As soon as Attom bomb was dropped on Japan on 6th & 9th August Japan’s great dream of united Asia ( !!!! ) was reduced to rubble.Prime minister Tojo committed suicide & most of the Japan was in debris. Naturally Japan was looking an excuse to off load Netaji & he himself gave him the chance.

Greater East Asia Conference 1943  : Whom did he represent there ?

Subhash Chandra Bose representing India in the conference of Tokyo - Photo from internet.

Subhash Chandra Bose representing India in the conference of Tokyo – Photo from internet.

It makes me surprised that how Netaji agreed to participate Great East Asia Conference held in Tokyo on 5th-6th November 1943. It was a summit organised by Japan to glorify it’s stand on 2nd world war & to establish it’s pro-independence support to various Asian countries under European colonization. It was called the moment Japan realised it’s loosing position in the war & the conference practically became a platform to promote Japanese imperialism.

Although Bose was invited there as an observer but he was given a full honor of a state head  by Japanese Government.The conference attended by few chosen south Asian countries to hail Japan’s imperialistic game & Bose gladly became a part of it ! Even Thailand did not send the state head to cement  it’s strong message that it is not a part of Japan’s imperial plan & sent junior official not much of diplomatic weight.There was no one from Korea ( no need was there as it was then ruled by Japan ) but few intellectual came to praise of Japan’s rule in Korea.Rest all were small puppets from China,Burma &  Philippine.Bose delivered a speech on India’s plan for independence ( jana gana mana was played in the conference hall as India’s national anthem & it was given a full honor like any independent country’s national anthem ) but he was marked as supporter of Japan’s evil game across the world. Back in home Indian communists & people like Neheru got a golden chance to run for the blood of Bose.While Neheru made himself restricted only by giving a statement to prevent Bose with naked sword if he comes to India CPI leaders like P C Joshi, B T Randive & others took Bose to the lowest ebb.CPI political mouthpiece was filled up with anti Bose cartoons & articles.The Statesman of Calcutta an old enemy  which once described Bose’s friendship with Nazi  as ” he is  where he belongs”  & went on writing in it’s editorial that ” Mr Bose’s views are those of Nazi’s & he makes no secret of it…..take the trouble of reading his books….if therefore Mr Subhash Bose is with the Nazis & the German Radio claimed to  know about his whereabouts  as early as last January  – he is where he belongs. He is honester than those who now put up a smoke screen of disbelief.” just got this opportunity to reestablish it’s claim.

Netaji Bose with INA members - photo from internet.

Netaji Bose with INA members – photo from internet.

Bose after Novemenr 1943 was just a running dog of imperialism in many eyes.Bose could have avoid this political circus of Japan with his own point.Either he had no choice in a land where he was a refuge or his secret desire to represent India in an international forum swept him away from rationality.It was just not done by a leader like Bose.                   



Japan’s support to INA was not cordial – it was just an eye wash.

Only a fool would have trust Japan of last century.

The out to out ruthless imperialist nation had it’s hand full of blood. It’s attack on China then various Indo-Dutch colonies across Asia rocked the world during war. In early 1904 it invaded  Korea after defeating Russia in the battle of port Arthur  & it’s  endless tyranny on Korean people took place till 1945. Hitting America at Pearl Harbour in Pacific made them a monster country with an eye to go for bigger gain.Bose knowing all such past of Japan thought this country a friend without knowing much of it’s nature. His various write ups in various publication never contained any clear indication that Japan is also in his mind.He once from India tried to send message to Japan asking their help but his secret courier was captured in the hand of British police. As soon as he took responsibility of  his army & started looking for military support he was upset  to realize that the support is just an eye wash.Bose was not given a free hand to run his administration & there was a middle man kind of organisation created by Japan named HikariKinan which was no match to any of the Allies military force in term of military science. Still Bose had to compromise.

Netaji received Andaman & Nicobar island as a gift from Japan - visiting the jail - Photo from internet.

Netaji received Andaman & Nicobar island as a gift from Japan – visiting the jail – Photo from internet.

He had no choice in hand He knew Japan as a strong military power but never knew Japanese culture  where trusting is an unknown word as far as an outsider is concern.The reason for which Hitlar never accepted Bose in open arm & the reason for which Stalin just ignored Bose were little different from this case.Germany & USSR never took him with enough importance & always had a doubt in his intention.USSR was sure that Bose is  British agent implanted by London to confuse Axis force while Hitlar never had any respect for any Indian. Both the countries had no interest on India in any form.In case of Japan it was little different.Japan had an imperialistic plan across Asia & India was initially a target.That pushed Japan to bomb Calcutta several times in 1942 43 to avow it’s arrival at the door step of Delhi but soon it had a lesson in the hand of Allies that they are no match to American.By the time Bose was giving long speeches in various places of Singapore,Rangoon,Bangkok & collecting fund to built army,bank & many thing else from  thousand of migrant Indians Japan was more busy of protecting it’s own house rather than supporting INA.It is true that Japanese force invaded India & came up to the door step of Imphal but that was only a small part of a smaller plan.It never rendered it’s hand that could have made INA a real strong force to take on Brits.There was no air support provided in Manipur  to INA & very inferior quality arms were given in battle field. There was not enough trucks to transport men,medicines ,food & arms. Many INA soldiers died just lack of medicines & food in the jungle of Arakan in Burma.Bose tried his best to push Tokyo for more but Hikarikinan was no good to do anything of it’s own.It was tightly controlled from Tokyo for whom INA & Bose was no more a big factor. Netaji soon came across with the fact that his over emotion has made things complex & now Japan will only keep him as a show piece of anti British propaganda. Japan also had a plan to use INA to tame the mutiny of Burmese people under the leadership of Ba Maw but Netaji somehow managed to avoid that although INA had it’s head office in Rangoon.This made Japanese angry & Bose’s attitude towards Japan came clear. Soon USSR announced war against Japan on 8th August 1945 & at that time Bose started demanding his removal to USSR ! This was never taken as good gesture by Japanese Govt. They accepted him from Germany when he was almost counted as unwanted there & now when USSR is on war with Japan his wish to go to USSR was noway a satisfactory matter to deal with.                    

The last journey & the last mistake  : Why Soviet Union ? 

In May 1945 INA surrendered at Rangoon & Bose’s dream was shattered once again.

When things were falling apart in front of his eyes Bose was adamant to escape to a land where he is out of the reach of Allied force & USSR came in his mind.In his declaration of war INA never mentioned the name USSR & Bose came under the impression that this will proved him an innocent in the eye of Stalin – he was just making another blunder.

What makes Bose feel that USSR will accept him ? Scholar who have worked on 2nd world war will never be able to justify this fact.Bose from his early days in Indian politics was never close to Indian Communist Party & in his un-finished biography written in mid 1930s he very clearly expressed his apathy to communism & it’s future in India.He rather expressed his profound admiration towards a system made out of balanced blending  dictatorship & democracy.

Bose & Neheru - both were leaned to USSR but Neheru had an acceptance there while Bose was always doubted as a British agent - photo from internet.

Bose & Neheru – both were leaned to USSR but Neheru had an acceptance there while Bose was always doubted as a British agent – photo from internet.

It was a fact that Bose tried to visit USSR in that phase but could not manage visa unlike Jawaharlal Neheru who paid a visit to USSR in the same period.USSR of 1930s made Neheru captivated as it did to Rabindranath Tagore who visited that country in 1930.Both were shown a projected shape of USSR that the ruler of the nation wanted to show.So Neheru who wrote too many good things about that nation  was much accepted a figure from India to USSR than anyone else & Bose was nowhere near to that.USSR always doubted Netaji Bose. His escape to Kabul & then his volatile attempt to contact USSR embassy was not taken kindly by that country.Bose in their eye was just a British agent who for the sake of rebuilding his political career was trying to contact them.More to that flying to Berlin via Moscow was also monitored but he was not given any diplomatic importance ever though Bose was keen to meet Russians.

By the time Bose arrived in Germany the master plan of operation Barbarossa was prepared & USSR was soon attacked by Germany on 22nd June 1941 .It was the time when Bose was enjoying a quasi-diplomatic status in that country.In such a situation USSR had enough reason to believe that Bose is either of no use or a burden to be off loaded.In 1945 at then last phase of war it was very clear that financial dent of Britain will force her to pull back from colonial countries in Asia & Africa.In such a stage inviting Bose to Moscow & fueling his dream of invading India as a national hero was just a meaningless matter for Stalin.Bose whose image as a collaborator of Axis power in Germany & Japan was very obnoxiously illustrated by CPI in India & these support came from Communist Party of Great Britain who used to supply all Bose related information to it’s Indian counterpart.CPI and other Indian communist made Bose such a demon in their various political organs that USSR had to buy the fact that this man ( Bose ) is an enemy to communist country & a flag bearer of Nazism.Still he pressured Japanese to get him to Manchuria which was then under USSR control.

Netaji at an INA function in Singapore - photo from internet.

Netaji at an INA function in Singapore – photo from internet.

Already mentioned that by that time USSR was officially at war with Japan & this request of Bose made Japanese very angry.Still he was given a flight to go there & after that history is fogged.He either died of an air crash in a small island of Taiwan or he arrived USSR only to end his life in an unimaginable pain in some remote prison cell of Russia fully under the knowledge of Stalin & Neheru. Netaji Bose in his long political life had shown sympathy to USSR many a time but never he got any return message from that country. Still his unshaken trust on USSR that it will help him to achieve India’s freedom found fatal  & he proved it by giving his life.

Still  a prince among all patriots :    

With so many political wrong calculation in international arena how the life of Bose casts the longest shadow on India’s struggle of independence ?

Whether he was burnt to death in an isolated island of Taiwan or in a cold prison cell of USSR will rock India for another hundred years. Netaji & the vanquished leaders of INA an almost forgotten foot print of 2nd world war will always remain as an enigma in India only because it was his gargantuan effort that made Indian army feel that they can also take up the arms against their ruler.The trial of POW of  INA in Delhi’s red fort created  a mayhem in India & soon the mutiny in Indian Royal Navy where ” Jai Hind ” the war cry of INA was written on the wall by Indian naval force clearly indicated that fallen mutilated bodies of trained & untrained soldiers of INA at Indo-Burma border in 1944 finally landed at the door of Delhi’s red fort to proclaim freedom for a nation under colonial chain for years.In an article recently published in The Pioneer Deepak Sinha an ex-army & a consultant to “Observer Research Foundation” wrote that even in Britain’s cabinet meeting it was planned to evacuate all British citizens from selected Indian cities as this mutiny in army was taken a final blow to colonize India anymore.This document is now available in British Library for public.Plus in 2012 a survey in Britain cemented the fact that the battle of

Netaji Bose - vanquished but a hero always.Photo from internet.

Netaji Bose – vanquished but a hero always.Photo from internet.

Imphal where INA had a role was the most difficult battle Britain fought in 2nd world war.Amazingly in both the reason that Britain officially recognised as it’s reason to leave India has a long shadow of Netaji Bose.He was not able to reach  red fort but his hard work in the form of INA war prisoner finally reached there.

An officer in Indian army who had the chance to spend time with INA soldiers sent a secret report to SEAC’s Military Intelligence system stating how deeply these soldiers atre inspired by Netaji Bose’s inspiring leadership & it was also mentioned that they are so deeply motivated by patriotism that it was ” doubtful if they can be rehabilitated as soldiers again”  This is  enough to prove that  INA indeed destabilized  India’s military power in form of  passion if not in a form of army.

Let us believe it in fresh mind that a power like Britain did not decide to give India her independence because we refused to give salt tax or  decided to wear ” Khadi”. An English article in English newspaper was not a thing that used to touch India of 1940 but saga of few young men taking up arms against a power thousand time bigger than them & their sacrifice in a remote corner of the world created a tumult in mass as well as in army.The mob that came out on the street of Bombay,Karachi,Calcutta & Madras in support of INA soldiers & soldiers of Royal Indian Navy gave a clear signal to London that it is the time to pack up.

When Bose left India in 1941 Japan was yet to participate in war. Believing Hitlar & Stalin both are great friend of India Bose first tried to reach Russia but finally landed in Germany. With almost zero result he gone to Japan. It is now believed that instead of Kabul if Bose would have fled to Japan in 1941 then he might have reach Calcutta in 1942 with Japanese force & at that point of time Gandhi’s ” Quit India” mayhem would have added with that arm uprising.That would be the best for India but it never happened as it is assumed.Bose landed Japan in such a time when it was late & he had no choice but to go ahead with whatever was possible.There was no lapse in his dream but there was serious lapse in his game plan.

Bose - the last titan-Photo from internet.

Bose – the last titan-Photo from internet.

The best tribute to Bose again came from a Greek & none other than a man whom he once physically abused as a student. His name is Edward Farley Oaten a professor of Presidency College Calcutta where in 1916  Bose as a student of the same college organised a physical attack on him as he ( the professor ) passed some racist comments against Indian. Knowing Bose’s death & his himalayan contribution for his country the teacher who was once insulted in the hand of this student could not hold his emotion & he wrote a poem in the memory of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose where he compared him with famous Greek mythological character Icarus who dared to fly near Sun.The poem written in the most pure touch of respect reads :

“Was mighty Icarus  – like your courage planned/To meet the skies,and the storms in battle set/The ramperts of high Heaven, to claim the debt/Of freedom owed, on plain the rude demand/High heaven yielding, but in dignity./Like Icarus , you sped towards the sea/Your wings were melted from you by the sun/The genial patriot fire that brightly glowed/In India’s mighty heart and flamed & flowed/ Forth from her Army’s thousand victories won”.

……..& the poem starts by saying  ” Did I once suffer Subhash at your hand  ? /Your patriot heart is stilled ! I would forget”.

That is true about Netaji Bose the last titan of our history – we would forget  all of his emotional mistakes but not certainly the noble objective that he inflamed & achieved it by suffering the most .

Reference – books & periodicals. 

English : 

The Statesman – An Anthology ( 1875-1975)

Liberty or Death  by Patrick French

A misguided patriot  by  Mridula Mukherjee – ( India Today – 20th April 2015 )

Bengal Divided – The unmaking of a nation ( 1905-1971)   by Nitish Sengupta.

The Last Days of the Raj  by Trevor Royle

The Korean soul by Susanta K Ghose ( The Statesman – 5th May 2015 )

Netaji’s forgotten Indian Army  by  Deepak Sinha – ( The Pioneer –  4th May 2015 )

Netaji R.I.P  by  Praven Davar  ( The Asian Age – 24th April 2015 )

The Lost Hero by Mihir Bose

Back from Death – inside the Subhash Bose Mystery  by Anuj Dhar

Brother Against the Raj  by  Leonard Gordan.

His Majesty’s Opponent by Sugata Bose

Bengali : 

Subhashchandra o Amara – Ganashakti  – 1996

Desh – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Centenary  – 13th January 1996

Yubashakti  – 1996

Parichay – Shatabarshe Subhash Chandra ( June – August 1996 )

Aparajito Shahitya Patrika – June 1992.

Sharadiya Desh – 1994

Want read more of Somen Sengupta – visit

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“Saptapadi” – the prelude of a classic novel & movie

You may fall from your chair to read it in 2015 but the fact remains that in 1960 Bengal  was the most industrially advanced state of India.It’s industrial output was much higher than Gujarat,Karnataka,Hariyana & Tamilnadu. Except Maharashtra there was no state which was close to Bengal to compete as most preferred industrial location in India. Calcutta was home of maximum number of MNCs doing business in India & there was hardly any world famous airlines that has no stop over at it’s airport in Dumdum. Almost all financial institutions & big banks had their head office in Calcutta except few like HSBC. India’s only automobile & only record factory were also in Bengal & needless to say tea, small engineering & jute industries were at it’s zenith.

The original poster of Saptapadi - the 1961 Bengali movie that became a landmark.Photo from internet.

The original poster of Saptapadi – the 1961 Bengali movie that became a landmark.Photo from internet.

 Calcutta based newspapers like The Statesman & Amrita Bazar Patrika were counted  with maximum intellectual respect. Till his death the first newspaper  Jawaharlal Neheru used to pick in morning was The Statesman  & not The Hindustan Times ( funded by his patron G D Birla ) or not even The  National Herald ( a newspaper founded & once edited by Neheru himself ). Thus was the power of Bengali intelegentia that theatre groups across India used to watch what Shambhu Mitra or Badal Sarkar is doing in Calcutta stage. Cinema was no exception.Forget titans like Ray or Ghatak the mainstram commercial directors like Tarun Majumdar, Tapan Sinha,Ajoy Kar etc were  under constant watch of Bollyhood movie mughals like V Shantaram, Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor & Bimal Roy.Bombay cinema world used to follow Bengali commercial movies with utter importance for it’s exceptional literature based stories, lights, camera, music & acting performance. In such an era a Bengali movie was relased in Calcutta on 20th October 1961.”Saptapadi” ( meaning the seven steps of togetherness ) the movie was loaded with all that a romantic Bengali of 1960 can dream of. It had Bengali heart throbs like Uttam Kumar & Suchitra Sen in leads & music scored by Hemant Kumar. Directed by Ajoy Kar a man with ample repute of telling good story on screen the movie rocked Bengal & East Pakistan ( a province of Pakistan till 1971 – now an independent country named Bangladesh ) like a cyclone. It will be worth mentioning that in those days India made Bengali movies were allowed to release in East Pakistan which was much bigger a cinema market than West Bengal.

The excellent camera work,outstanding script,unforgettable songs & above all the giant named Uttam Kumar’s one of the career best performance made Saptapadi  almost near perfect movie expericne for cinegoers. Suchitra Sen with her divine look & average acting talent did her best.Almost everything gone correct with the movie. It became a topic of discussion across India & Pakistan.

Saptapadi - the 1961  movie that became a milestone in history of Bengali cinema.Photo from internet

Saptapadi – That song sequence – it was too brave for young middle class Bengali couple Photo from internet

There are 2 sequences that indeed became iconic in Bengali middle class life. One was that song where hero Krishnendu & heroine Reena Brown are riding a motor cycle & criss-crossing rural Bengal giving lips to Hemant Kumar – Sandhya Mukherjee duets.It was too brave a dream for any young couple of that era & it indeed set fire of passion in many young hearts.Till now this song sequence is counted as one of the best romantic moments of Bengali cinema.It was mostly taken  inside studio & few long shots from back ( from back becasue the hero Uttam Kumar was not able to ride a motor cycle ) were taken in Aamtala near Calcutta ( then a village – now a concrete jungle ).

The iconic Othello play sequence of the film - Noted theatre personalities like Utpal Dutta & Jennifer Kapoor gave their voices for Othello & Desdemona  in this - it was "a movie inside of a movie" experience for all.Photo from internet.

The iconic Othello play sequence of the film – Noted theatre personalities like Utpal Dutta & Jennifer Kapoor gave their voices for Othello & Desdemona in this – it was “a movie inside of a movie” experience for all.Photo from internet.

The cinema had a midus touch in a sequence where Uttam & Suchitra as student of Calcutta Medical College enacted in an English play & that was none other than Shakespeare’s Othello. Never before or even till today a Bengali movie was packed with such a long scene of a Shakespeare play.It was a magical rendering of voice from Utpal Dutta & Jennifer Kapoor that gave a ” movie inside of a movie” experience to spectators. I know there were many young people of that era who used to watch only that 20 minutes of that movie to learn out how to render perfect English in a Shakespeare play.For those serious learners of theatre rest of the movie was meaningless. Above all plus points  of Saptapadi the best was no doubt it’s story line. It was slim, candid, exceptional & shocking. It was pregnant with pain & a message. More to that it was a real life story of a man & woman who loved each other so much that they tested their lives with truth. Now very few people know how this real life story shaped into a classic novel from the pen of legendary Bengali writer Tarashankar Banerjee.

Tarashankar Banerjee - winner of Gyanpeeth award & one of the titan of Bengali litareture in post Tagore era.Photo from internet.

Tarashankar Banerjee – winner of Gyanpeeth award & one of the titan of Bengali literature in post Tagore era.Photo from internet.

Tarashankar wrote the novel Saptapadi in 1958 & it was published in a magazine with very little circulation. As that  was not the time like this when a sub standard novel also gets national coverage with huge promotional activity the novel named Saptapadi was soon forgotten. The author himself also got busy with many of his new projects. A year after it’s publication in a magazine the novel came as a book in 1959 ( with very little modification ) by a publication house named Bengal Publishers.It soon took the Bengali intelectual world by storm & it had eight editions within 2 years.In 1960 the 9th edition came with a special preface from the author himself. The preface first confessed that this is a real life story & the author experienced it in a gap of 40 years.Soon it was taken to picturised & in 1961 a classic novel was filmed.

In that preface Tarashankar babu gone back to 1916 when he came to Calcutta from the remote village of Birbhum. He got admitted in St Xavier’s college & it was a huge cultural shock to  a man grown up in middle class Bengal village of 1910s. He was shy & introvert in  campus. He wrote about his days in St Xavier’s & it’s pupils. He recollected that on south side of the college there was senior & junior Cambridge school.The school was full of Europeans & Anglo Indian students.Few indian students were there but all of them are from rich families of Calcutta & that made a gulf for him to mix with them.

St Xavier's College Calcutta - here in 1916 Tarashankar  met the real life hero of his novel.Photo by author.

St Xavier’s College Calcutta – here in 1916 Tarashankar met the real life hero of his novel.Photo by author.

A tall, dark, hamndsome Indian boy was in 4th year in college. As he was senior to him by age author never had the chance  to interact with him but the boy was an eye catcher. He was robust & zing-full. Smart & flamboyant the boy used puff cigerete in campus & only used to mix with Anglo Indian & Europeans. He was an outstanding footballer & often took the playground with storm by his soccer skill.As per author he was a whirlpool in St Xavier’s college. Soon he set the buzz once more in campus with a news.The news was big enough to rock a time like 1916.It was that he the Indian boy had  converted himslef into Christianity for the sake of his love interest who was an Anglo Indian girl.This was becasue her father has given this condition to him & he at any cost wanted to win his love.Thus this move.Tarashankar wrote this very candidly that it was not taken kindly by hindu students of the college.In those days Christianity was almost synonimus to British community & common Bengali hindu had an apathy to it. More to that conversion for the sake of a girl !

Uttam Kumar as Krishnendu in soccer match - the football skill of the hero shown in the film was indeed a part of the real hero's character.Photo from internet.

Uttam Kumar as Krishnendu in soccer match – the football skill of the hero shown in the film was indeed a part of the real hero’s character.Photo from internet.

For the sake of a lady love ! This was just an unacceptable cause.So certain amount of hate & anger was generated against that boy among the hindu students in the college . Soon the boy vanished from the campus & it was concluded without enough evidence that he has married that Anglo Indian girl & must be enjoying several benefits of that.The incident was soon forgotten & Tarashankar also left St Xavier’s before finishing his degree thanks to his active participation in freedom struggle. Life took the author in the arena of literature from 1930 & this closed chapter of life never rang any bell to him in  next 40  long years.In 1956 when Tarashankar was already a noted name in Bengali literature he was once invited in Chottogong town of East Pakistan to participate in a literature festival.There he was taken to the hospitality of a highly placed Government official who eventually turned  out to be an ex-Xaverian who was with him the same class of 1916.It was a reunion time for frineds & many old memories of college days were recollected.In that recollection one day that Government official frined took him in his jeep & drove to a tribal village in a hilly region.There for the sake of giving him an unique surprise the man took Tarashankar babu to a small church made of logs.As soon as the tall & handsome priest of the church appeared to meet them Tarshankar had surprise of his life.It was he the 4th year student of St Xavier’s who 40 years ago  discarded his religion for the sake of a mere Anglo Indian girl ! It was he whom they all loved to hate for this obnoxious move.

Krishnendu just after converting himself in church - Photo from internet.

Krishnendu just after converting himself in church – Photo from internet.

The tall man still as handsome as his heydays had a peaceful smile on his face.He was offering free class to local poor students.Tarashankar was not able to believe what he was seeing there.How come a man full of lust for a girl can land up here in this form ? What gone wrong ? Where that Anglo Indian girl has gone ? Is she dead or she is separated from this fallen man ? The local friend answered all to him.He explained that finally after changing his religion when the hindu boy gone to claim the girl she instantly refused him. She was not able to accept it how come for a sake of a girl a man can discard his religious entity ? Is he that weak from inside ? Is he that flexible ? If a man can discard religion for the sake of a girl then he can also discard his wife for another beautiful girl – this was what she reacted & broke the relationship there for good.This took the man to the hadest reality of life.He lost the girl there but he was not ready to loose  the chance of becoming a good human being.He realsied if God is so great to his girl friend then by loving God he can reach her closer.He left Calcutta to join the church in Garo hills & after partition he settled here in East Pakistan.Here for last 40 years he is serving mankind in his purest form & he never tried to contact that girl after he left Calcutta.

This made Tarashankar moved to tears.He was finding a hero in a man whom he once thought a fallen soul.He took the plot in his mind &  blend it with some additional touch.Soon in 1958 the novel Saptapadi was born.

The film was released in 1961 with some modification considering it’s commercial aspect.The most part of the novel & the movie followed the actual story.Specially the football match where the hero Krishnendu displays his skill or the climax where Reena Brown the Anglo Indian girl refuses Krishnendu on his face.

Calcutta Medical College - St Xavier's was substituted with this as romance can bloom in a boys only college.A big part of the movie was shoot here.Photo from internet.

Calcutta Medical College – St Xavier’s was substituted with this as romance can not bloom in a boys only college.A big part of the movie was shoot here.Photo from internet.

However for the sake of building romance between boy & girl a college campus was needed & that was not possible in St Xavier’s which was boy only college.So it was reshaped to Calcutta Medical College where both the lovers were shown as medical students.The Shakespeare play was a creative culmination as it never happned in real like what Tarashankar experinced.The fight between Bengali hindu students & Anglio Indians are also added element which may have a touch from Tarashankar’s student life in St Xavier’s.

The movie ends far differently from the real life.In real life the man never ever met his lost love.In movie we see on the backdrop of 2nd world war Krishnendu the priest while  offering his service as a doctor in a red cross war camp meets an alchoholic mentally depressed girl  who was none other than ” she ” whom he left many years ago.The film took us to a climax in that part when both of them support their own stand of life.

The best scene of the movie - Reena Brown avowing that God is dead as man has killed him.Photo from internet.

The best scene of the movie – Reena Brown avowing that God is dead as man has killed him.Photo from internet.

Here  comes the best word & best sequence of the movie.When the man says her to keep faith  in God the girl screems & says God is dead becasue man has killed him.With this she fires her gun in agony that breaks the glass of the lamp shade hanging above them & it’s flame falls on floor.In that flickering flame we see a wall where a photo of Jesus smiles.Unlike the novel the movie ends with an exhasuted Reena resting on the hands of Krisnendu.In novel they parted with full trust of their faith.

In the history of cinema three great things at a time like a discovering a noble life followed by a great novel & again followed by an unforgettable movie is indeed rare.It was author’s magical touch & Ajoy Kar’s directoral crafting that made it possible but above all there was a man who kissed life when life gave him the cruelest punishment.No wonder that  while meeting the man in 1956 in East Pakistan Tarashankar expressed his feeling with an amazing comparison. In his preface publishede in 1960 he wrote by crossing all layers of his soul a man was coming up who not with his robustness but with his silent smile and not by his flamboyance but by his soft & calm expression forced him to remember the part of “Quo Vadis”  where god was asked ” where goest Thou Lord ! & God replied ” To Rome , to be Gricified again “.

The last word :

I was aware that the film Saptapadi was based on a real life  man but never had enough material to know more. Recently I read an article in Bengali literary collection  ” Sharodio Dainik Statesman ” where the preface written by Tarashankar in 1960 was reprinted & it gave me enough to shape this article. Saptapadi both as a novel & as a film was close to my heart & with this real events as back ground it is now more atractive to me .It’s link with conflict of religion, St Xavier’s college, 2nd world war, football match, Shakespare play & Chittagong the place were my parents were born made me encouraged to write this article.

Read more of me :

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India’s debacle of 1962 : A stigma that we can not hush up.

The cover of American news magazine Time in 1962 featuring a dejected Neheru – photo from internet.

No country likes to record it’s gloom history.”

50 years ago when mankind was yet to experience the magic of information boom & zingoism was order of the day it was just a common principle.This is what our Statistic teacher in College Mr V K Tankha told us while discussing India-China war of 1962.He went on telling us that everyday the print media & All India Radio used to broadcast loads of false glory of Indian army where as in actual they were perishing in Ladhak & Arunachal Pradesh.

Cut to 2012 – we are now citizens of a world which has very minimum similarity with a world we saw in 1962. That why in last 3 months I saw a plethora of articles in various newspapers & magazines remembering the saddest saga of independent India that is Sino -India war of 1962 & it is nice to see that there is no attempt to glorify our failure. Reading  some of those articles I am convinced of few things.

One such thing is that China’s attack on India was a planned gambit to settle a long pending score & Neheru’s over confidence of his statesmanship skill as a world leader with his mental content created out of an insignificant military success to capture Goa in 1961 are main causes of India’s debacle in that 30 days long war.Over that a weak defence minister like Krishna Menon who was master of nepotism in military affairs contributed in this.

Let us accept it that the invasion of Chinese army up to the Tejpur town of Assam & sudden announcement of crease-fire on 20th November 1962 is a disgraceful fact.The war was a month long  & People Republic of China was convinced that it has taught India a tremendous lesson. So the moment the abominable side of India’s military power was exposed China found the war useless & left  Assam & Arunachal Pradesh.

Neheru & Mao : While Neheru blindly trusted China Mao was determined to give India a lesson by waging a limited war – photo from internet.

For knowing the background we have to walk back to the year 1914 & need to revisit Shimla the hill retreat of Punjab.The dispute of Mc Mohan line an unfinished project left by Brits is known as the mother of India – China conflict.Three countries India ( then under British rule ) China ( then yet to become a communist country ) & Tibet ( then an independent nation ) met in Shimla to settle their borders.It was conducted by British Foreign Secretary Sir Henry Mc Mohan. The demarcation of boundary with India & China was the main objective of this conference &  Tibet was an indispensable part of discussion.

After several attempt to invade Tibet British came to a conclusion that  China has no significant influence in Tibet & Tibet deserves a special status.Tibet was earlier an independent country but later on annexed to China when Mongols &  Manchu conquered it.Later on when Monchu rulers became weak in China Tibet again became almost independent with no impact of Chinese rule controlled from mainland.In 1914 they participated Shimla  conference as separate country.

Tibet made it very clear that they are only interested in full autonomy as a country & do not care for any special interest.On the other hand China was clear on it’s stand that Mongal under Genghis Khan conquered Tibet.So it is a part of China.To defend this logic Tibet furnished the fact that authentic China was limited only within the great wall made by Han dynasty.So a captured land where it has no influence now can  not be claimed by China.Rajindar Puri in his article published in The Statesman very logically supported this point.Mr Puri is of an opinion that if China can claim Tibet then can India claim Mayanmar or Burma as that land was also once  conquered & ruled by British East India Company the same ruler who ruled India till 1857.

1914 was the year when world was at the threshold of first world war & Britain was in a hurry to settle border dispute in Himalaya.After heavy brainstorming Tibet was parted into inner & outer Tibet.China accepted to exclude Tibet as it’s province & ready to give autonomy to outer Tibet. Dalai Lama the religious guru was assumed as head of Tibet. While Britain  &  Tibet signed the treaty the Chinese representative Ivan Chen opted out showing the reason that the boundary of inner & outer Tibet is not clear to China.Govt of India rejected this treaty as China did not sign this agreement & the project gone to cold store .In 1937 Olaf Caroe a British civil servant officer published a volume of Survey of India & in that he shown Mc Mohan line is the final boundary between India & China. Overnight new maps were drawn & all old volumes were replaced from various archives with new boundary marking.The volumes had a false date of publication as 1929.

In 1938 another British army officer Lt GS Lightfoot arrived  at Tawang an important centre in northeast  & announced that this is now a part of India.It created huge controversy in Tibet & the area was given back to Tibet soon. However in the entire  area British administration  did various military activities till 1947 & Tibet made no objection.British left India but border hotchpotch remained.

By the end of 1951 India almost captured full of Tawang  & renamed it North East Frontier Agency in 1955.

Over coming a long history of slavery which starts ever since muslim invaders attacked & vanquished the last Hindu king of north India & got cemented with the victory of East India Company in 1757 India finally won her independence in 1947 with Jawaharlal Neheru as it’s prime minister.Within two years in 1949 China emerged as People Republic of China.,/p>

People Republic of China came into existence in 1949 & India was one of the first country of the world to recognise it – photo from internet.

It was when Chinese Communist Party made history by defeating ruling nationalist Kuomintang Government that  ruled China from 1911 to 1949.India was overjoyed to see this development & became 2nd country in the world to give recognition to the new Communist Govt of China.

Neheru with his overconfidence of statesmanship thought China will ever remain happy with the half baked cake that Brits left between two countries.With in few years he will see how wrongly he took China.

In 1950 China first attacked few posts in Ladakh. Not much is known about this event.It was the time when defence minister of India Ballabbhai Patel wrote a long letter to Neheru to warn him on China.As usual Neheru neglected that.

Neheru visited China in 1954 & an agreement was signed with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to start trade between Tibet part of China.Followed by a return visit of Zhou Enlai in the same year China and India signed the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence or Panchsheel.The event made such a great feeling in Neheru’s heart that a road in Delhi was named as Panchasheel marg ! The iconic slogan ” Hindi – Chini bhai bhai ” was created.With a great surprise  Zhou Enlai again visited India 1956.Then suddenly in September 1958 India found a pictorial map released by China showing many parts of Assam & Arunachal Pradesh  within Chinese border.It also found a road in Karakoram region of Aksai Chin built by China. India put an official objection on this.In 1959 th same Zhou Enlai  clearly claimed that 40000 sq miles in Ladakh & Arunachal Pradesh as part of China.It was the first wake up call to for gory war.In April of the same year China invaded Tibet after a failed uprising by Tibetans under Dalai Lama who  escaped to India.With him came thousands of Tibetans refugees & India silently gave them shelter.

Dalai Lama refuge to India in 1959 & Neheru’s open arm welcome to him made things difficult between India & China – photo from internet.

Dalai Lama placed himself at Himachal Pradesh while his followers settled all across India. Neheru with an intention of showing his broad perspective of secularism gladly welcomed him & it was the time when Indian print media openly started supporting the autonomy of Tibet.It was observed by Beijing with a very disturbing mind.It was not the first time that Dalai Lama created problem for India. Before this in 1956 when he visited India on the of 2500th year celebration of Budha’s enlightenment  he refused to go back Tibet for many months. Situation was so bad that after few months Chinese Govt unofficially pressured India to push him back to Tibet.

From April to October 1959  again Chinese & Indian soldiers exchanged fires & many Indian jawans got killed.In September 1959 China officially ignored MacMohan line as official border & claimed another 50000 sq miles in Sikkim & Bhutan.Meanwhile in October China killed & abducted many Indian soldiers in Aksai Chin. The venom of dragon was engulfing the entire Himalayan belt in north.

China officially discarded the legibility of McMohan line & with this another blunder left by British came into existence.It established the fact  that China never accepted that disputed treaty.It was the time when China claimed additional 50000 square mile of land within Sikkim ( then not a part of India ) & Bhutan.The nemesis of China was by now a reality on India.In the same month China attacked Aksai Chin area of Ladakh killing 9 Indian soldiers. Another visit of Zhou Enlai with Jawaharlal Neheru in Delhi in April 1960 ended fruitless.China shown no sign of coming soft.By the end of 1961 India lost another

The mind blowing Tawang Lake of Arunachal Pradesh – photo from internet.

12000 sq miles of land to China in Ladakh.

Now both in Arunachal Pradesh & Ladakh Chinese soldiers often found marching on Indian soil.India tried to show some steel by placing some military personal in few border post but by April 1962 China issued an ultimatum to withdraw all such post from border.The relation came  to a lowest end in  September 1962 when suddenly Chinese troops crossed McMohan line in Thang La region in east & non stop firing were reported on Indian soldiers from other side of the border. 20th October 1962 – the war was official.

On that day China attacked both in Ladak & Arunachal Pradesh.Next one month almost everyday China invaded into India from both side.On 15th November Tawang & Walong both in Arunachal Pradesh were captured & Chinese army moved inside of Assam.On the same day Rezang La & Chusul airbase in Ladakh were badly bombed.

The biggest humiliation came on  18thNov when an army of 15000 Chinese soldiers launched a massive attack various places of  Ladakh & a town in Arunachal named Bomdila. Weak Indian defence  was totally over run by Chinese.China was now just few km away of Tejpur city of Assam.When it was all over China was already 48 km inside of Assam, 92 km inside of Arunachal Pradesh & many of the strategic location of Ladakh was fully under their control.

When war was on & emotional mayhem was highest among mob it was interesting enough that Communist Party of India ( CPI ) was one of the political party in those days that supported China accusing Indian Govt for acting like imperialists.CPI then undivided communist party of India was one of the strongest opposition party.

EMS Namudripad the legendary communist leader along with Jyoti Basu & Harkisan Singh Surjeet found no reason to blame China in 1962 war – photo from internet

It had a strong national presence covering Bengal, Maharashtra,Punjab, Andhra Pradesh,UP,Kerala & Bihar.When the war broke CPI was a divided house & major group including leaders like H K Singh Surjeet,Puran Chand Joshi, Sundaraya, Jyoti Basu & Basavpunaiya openly took the side of Chinese describing this was as a conflict between a capItalist country & a communist country. EMS Nammudripad the legendary communist leader from Kerala even refused to blame China for this war. They were love of mark them as internationalist while a small group including Sripad Amrita Dange & A K Gopalan supported India.With the direct connection with China many CPI members played the role of spy to them & Kalimpong a small hilly toen in Darjeeling of Bengal became a hub for Indian communist from where many secret news about Indian army used to fly Beijing.

The unequal confrontation – India was no match to China in 1962 – photo from internet.

Seeing the abominable  situation Neheru was converted into a broken man,He begged military support from USA, USSR & United Kingdom.His letter to US president was simply pathetic in words.There was a special India meeting held at White House on 20th November 1962.However USA then too busy with Cubian issue & obligation to Pakistan on account of Kashmir helped very little.On 19th Novemenr after knowing China’s advancement into Bomdila Neheru addressed nation over All India Radio where he said ” my heart goes with Assam ” – it sounded like a voice of a vanquished king bidding farewell to his subjects.Till today people from North-East hate this speech of Nehru & blame him for his poor escapist attitude.

On 21st November 1962 China announced a unilateral crease fire & returned back only 20 km behind of actual line of control. Hilariously All India Radio was still broadcasting that Indian Jawans are fighting like tigers & pushing back Chinese to their country ! BG Verghese the war correspondence of The Times of India who was in Tejpur for a month covering this war gave a vivid account of this in his article published in Telehka.He correctly remarked that 1962 was a politically determined military disaster.

After India got it back from China North East Frontier Agency was renamed as Arunachal Pradesh in 1972.

Till now India has 3488 km of disputed border line with China  & there is very little chance of solution in  near future.India renamed North East Frontier Agency as Arunachal Pradesh in 1972 & China never accepted this.China marked the place as South Tibet & always shows it as it’s province.

50 years after 1962 still today we often look back to past & wonder why  did we conceive such a  humiliating defeat.

It is good to see that today Indian print & electronic media are no more the voice of Govt & scope of knowing truth is much more than what it was in 1962.In last six months enough analysis were published to understand india’s gargantuan failure.In one of such article published in The Pioneer Srikanth Kondapalli aptly classified  reasons for this.Those are mainly of failed leadership ( where China out score us badly ), poor intelligence,primitive military logistics etc. Out of all these Kondapalli was most attacking on Neheru’s wrong move to ignore Patel’s letter written in 1949.In a letter to Jawaharlal in 1949 Vallabbha Patel clearly told him to be active in settling border dispute with China.

Patel’s letter written in 1949 was ignored by Neheru & it was a blunder – photo from internet.

considering the future.Patel wrote ” we have to strengthen our position in Sikkim & Tibet.As soon as the Communist have established themselves in the rest of China, they will try ot destroy Tibet’s autonomous existence”. What an outlook Patle had !!!!!! Soon  China openly challenged Tibet’s autonomy.

Neheru as usual thanks to his ego just ignored this warning from his home minister & Patel died soon in 1950.It was not only Patel & Neheru but also defencne minister Krishna Menon & finance minister Morarjee Desai that affected proper funding of war when it was really needed.When India was a house divided China was just an united family.

Mao Se Tung was passing through his worst political crisis after his debacle of ” Great Leap Forward ” movement which ended with loss of many lives.He was just looking for another mayhem to create to save his political career.China’s defence minister Peng Dehuai was sent to Tibet in 1959 to improve the logistics infrastructure & he did a wonderful job.The moment Central Committee decided to wage a limited war against India Mao & his rival Liu Shaqi joined hand.The failure of Indian air force was another astonishing reason.IAF was not used in the begining of the war with a fear that in a counter attack China could bomb Calcutta, Guwahati or Dhanbad.

Indian  intelligence was so week that it could not find out that China’s deep air penetration capacity was not strong in those days.It is just unpardonable that building of infrastructure like road & post inside of NEFA by China in `1956

Lal Bahadur Shastri visiting a camp of captivated Indian Chinese in Assam – photo from internet

was detected by India so late & that is also from a Chinese magazine !!!!!!!!! By that time war was half lost. India never developed any good logistics neither in Ladakh nor in NEFA but China did everything there.Mr B N Mullick the man who was head of Intelligence Bureau was more interested in interfering in all other subject except his own duty.His level of sycophancy was such that on 14th November 1962 on the birthday of Neheru he launched a new fighting squad in the name of Tibetan Army a frontier force whose contribution remained unacknowledged till date.He tried to sold this theory to Neheru that a force made of Tibetan refugees will be good to tame China & they ( the soldiers of this group) will liberate Tibet by their own.However Neheru had very little time to trust him becasue by that time China’s supremacy over India was almost evident. Krishna Menon whose love for nepotism is legendary.P N Thappar then army chief was a weak man & a doll in the hands of Menon.He even played timid to his juniors Kaul.Lt Gen B M Kaul was sick & hospitalised in Delhi but still he got the honor to command this was from his sick bed thanks to his mentor Mr  Menon. Menon the defecne minister of India since 1957 was an unimaginative, arrogant & man with no outlook.He was good in only in playing politics in army.No country can win a war when it’s top management act like this.

Today India  & China has a boundary of 3488 km one of the longest boundary  shared by two countries in the world.This long line is divided by three sectors viz West, Central & East.The west is connected through Jammu & Kashmir & Tibet.India still claims that China is  wrongly occupying 43000 sq km 7 out of that 5180 km Pakistan has gifted them.The central sector includes Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand & Tibet.Even in this zone places like Pulam, Thag La, Barahari , Sangha etc are disputed.The eastern sector is connected through Arunachal Pradesh where China claims 90000 sq km of land India wrongly occupying.The places include Tawang, Bum La, Lo La etc.Although 15 rounds of talks were conducted between two countries to solve the border issue it is still a big question mark.Very recently in their e-pass port China printed a map clearly showing Arunachal Pradesh & some parts of Ladakh are parts of China.India made an official protest but China had shown to interest of withdrawing it.

Today India & China are two top growing nation of the world & their spending on defence are also amazing.According to the report published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute China spent $ 160 billion in 2010 compare to only $ 30 billion in 2000

Western media felt the smell as soon as Dalai Lama took refuge in India – a cover from 1959 Time magazine – photo from internet

where as India’s defence budget in 2010 was only $ 41 billion compared to $ 17.5 billion in 2000.China’s army is world’s largest & it has finest capacity in cyber attack, missiles attack.It has already constructed a secret road till Mayanmar & places missile launchers at various place that can cover Indian cities like Chennai & Calcutta.China already installed a world class logistics infra in Tibet by connecting it through fastest rail & roads.China can even control the flow of river Bramhaputra to create man made flood in Assam.It is now exposed to the world that China secretly traders nuclear technology to Pakistan to create an indirect threat over India.Recently China sold two new 650 MW nuclear reactors named Chashma -3 & Chashma-4.

So it will be the right note to conclude it that China’s super performance in shaping it’s economy has given it so much of boost in military war fare that it will always try to dominate India & in future a limited war as it executed 50 years ago is highly possible.

So be aware of the himalayan dragon as it can throw venom at any day.

Reference :

The war we lost – BG Vergese ( Tehelka – 13th October 2012 )

India -China in e passpoer map row   (  report published in The Times of India  – 24th November 2012 )

Winter of 62 – Syed Nazakat ( The Week – 21st October 2012 )

The McMahon Line : Tibet will test Xi Jinping – Rajinder Puri ( The Statesman – 29th October 2012 )

1962 and after – Salman Haidar ( The Statesman – 30th October 2012 )

Walk the talk with Shekhar Gupta ( The Indian Express – 30th October 2012 )

Can 1962 be repeated – Vinod Saigal ( The Statesman – 15th November 2012 )

If Neheru had last laugh – Sunanda K Dutta Ray ( The Pioneer – 4th November 2012 )

Why India lost the war – Srikanth Kondapali (  The Pioneer – 4th November 2012 )

Dragon still remains a serious threat – Monika Chansoria  (The Pioneer – 4th November 2012 )

Bonding with Beijing – Patrick French ( The Week – 25th November 2012 )

Consigned to the dustbin of history – Claude Arpi ( The Pioneer – 22nd November  2012 )

Specially indebted to The Tribune online for various information.

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Saadat Hasan Manto at 100 : Looking back to the horror of partition through a man who saw it.

Manto’s writing is a running history of partition and it’s horror.

 My first encounter with an unknown entity called Saadat Hasan Manto is still vivid in my memory.

 For a common Calcutta grown Bengali knowing a short lived urdu write is not only tough but also   seems needless (!!!!). Bengali as a race is too proud of their literary enrichment that often make them blind and megalomaniac. There is always a trend in Bengal to ignore what is happening in other Indian languages apart from English. A Bengali intellectual first finishes his share  of Tagore- Bankim-Tarashankar  but after that just jumps to Shakespeare or Keats. I have not seen any of my Bengali friend who is  aware of any contemporary writer’s name from hindi, urdu, marathi or gujarati literary world.This is a century old disease in Bengal.

Let me come back to  the point where I started.

On a humid August morning of 1996 I was waiting for my father outside the fish market of my locality.In those days it was a mutual domestic  agreement that my father will shop vegetables and fish from the market and  I will  join him later only to carry those bags to home.It was to give him an escape from the pain to carry those full bags.That day while waiting for him outside the market my attention dropped on a special issue of Outlook magazine which had a cover story of ” 50 years after partition”. As the subject was close to my heart I waste no time to burn  Rs 10 from my pocket to buy a copy and instantly started reading it under open sun.There for the first time in my life I met a man with whom my love affair begun.

The collector’s issue contained a bunch of few  short stories translated from Urdu to English by one Sadaat Hasan Manto.Within ten minutes I completed 3 stories and I felt that I am no longer the same one.For the first time I realized that  if the historical chronicles are the record of those who perished in partition then Manto’s writing is the chronicle that records the lives of those we survived the mayhem only to live a life more deplorable than death.

Manto came back to me a year later. It was 1997 when The Pioneer newspaper of Delhi has been publishing some excellent Sunday supplements around the year to capture the time of 1940s.In one such issue a bunch of short stories translated from Hindi,Urdu,Bengali and many other languages was published.There I read ” Toba Tek Singh ” and ” The Cold Meat “. A year later I brought my first book of Manto from Calcutta Book Fair titles” Mottled Dawn “. With that book I entered into a goldmine of history.

Who was Manto ? Originated in Kashmir the family of Manto migrated to undivided Punjab in early part of  18th century and settled in Lahore.Born on 11th May 1912 in a village nearly 100 km from today’s Ludhiana Manto had a disturbed childhood.His father one Gulan Hassan  was ill tempered and not very kind to his kids born out of his second wife. Manto was close to his mother whom he adorably called “ bibijan“.

The maverick master – Manto

All his step brothers were highly educated and settled where as Manto was too bad in academics.Changing many schools from his childhood Manto finally managed to pass Matriculation exam at his 3rd attempt.He failed in Urdu language paper in school. Among his 12 siblings he was the black ship of his family.However bad in study Manto was a avid reader specially all those books which were considered bad.

With this all wrong things that can make a man slip from his  good character like alcohol, opium, gambling, prostitutes and irregular connection with family added in his life. It was somehow a journey to self destruction started at a very early age.From here till his untimely death in 1955 Manto was never a well disciplined man.Some say it is natural with his kind of talent but most people say it is a culmination of his disturbed childhood that made him like this.

After sometime Manto shifted to Amritsar and here he found a den at a restaurant owned by his friend Aziz. The denand Manto were  just made for each other.It was an assembly points of many such people like Manto.Here by chance he got to meet a talented photographer named Asiq, a painter named Anwar, a budding poet named Faqir Hussain and few more like him. However in this intellectual assembly some new windows of life were opened to him thorough long discussion of literature and music.Two new young fellow joined the the group later named Bari Alig and Ata Mohummad Chiyatir.They started editing a weekly literary supplement in Urdu named “ Maswaat “.Here the first spark of Manto was seen as a writer. By that time Manto was enriched with the reading of European master like Victor Hugo, O Henry, Maxim Gorky, Summerset Mom and Oscar Wild.It superimposed  revolution in mind that Manto himself felt and he started writing some of his feelings. He tried his hands in some translations of Hugo’s novel, Oscar Wild’s play  and Maxim Gorky’s story in Urdu.It was just a dawn of a new day for the literary world of this subcontinent. By this time his first ever short story titled “ Tamasha “ published in an Urdu magazine named “ Khalaq “.With this his non stop boozing and all other destructive habits were on and finally at the age of 23 he was detected with tuberculosis a deadly disease of that time.With some sort of recovery that he gained in his long stay in Kashmir Manto finally got a job in Bombay and moved there as an employee of a new magazine named “ Musavar”. From here he moved to Delhi with an assignment of All India Radio where we wrote many radio plays. However at the end of 1942 he came back to Bombay.

Ashok Kumar – the first hero of Indian talkie

Bombay the city of dream really worked for Manto. Here along with literature he got the chance to work in cinema world a scope which was never there in places like Lahore, Delhi  and Amritsar. After having short span in various studios Manto finally got a lucrative job in newly formed film production company Flimistan Studio.It was a time when national heart throb Ashok Kumar a Bengali chemist turned film hero and his brother-in-law Shashadhar Mukherjee parted their relation with Debika Rani of Bombay Talkies and formed their own production house.They were in hunt of new outstanding talents to build up their new team who will work as story writer, script writer and direction. Manto already a known  name in the world of Urdu literature was picked and given a monthly salary of Rs 300 a lofty amount in those days.

This is an utter misfortune that nearly 95% of films that various Bombay studios produced between 1935 to 1947 are destroyed of missing. Debashree Mukherjee a film researcher in New York recently listed eight such missing films written by Manto.The oldest one is written and released in 1938 under imperial Film Company named Kisan Kanya.Other missing films are Apni Nagaria ( 1940), Chal Chal Re Nawjawan ( 1944),Begum ( 1945),Naukar( 1945),Aaat din ( 1946) and Shikari ( 1946).

It was the time when Manto became the top page-3 writer of Bombay.His too intimate friendship with Ashok Kumar was a matter of envy too many.He was also close to top actresses like Begum Para and Padma Devi. Babu Roa Patel the editor of India’s top film magazine “ Film India “ was also close to Manto.It was a time when Manto was writing more on film world and less on his creative short stories.It was best part of his life with a loving wife and three daughters in a well to do family house in the city of Bombay.

In Bombay at that point of time pro Communist group of intellectual formed Progressive Writers Association ( PWA). Manto a worshiper of socialism never became a former member of the group but his proximity to this organization was well known.Like Kishan Chander and Rajindar Singh Bedi Manto also started illustrating the life and time of down trodden and people from the outcast arena of society.

It was indeed a productive time in Manto’s life.But God had something else in his mind.

1947 – the independence came along with partition. Bengal and Manto’s own home land Punjab were divided fueling a gory communal riot that was no less horrific than world war.

This is from Calcutta riot in 1946 – Manto was more shattered by the horror that he saw in his homeland Punjab.

It was a time of “no trusting to each other”. Although Bombay was calm when Calcutta, Lahore, Delhi,Noakhali, Kashmir and Bihar were burning a gloom was enveloped in film industry where hindu and muslim worked for years to produce dreams that entertained the nation. Like many of his friend Manto decided to move to newly created Pakistan.Was it a conscious decision or it was forced ? Just before this in late 1947 one of Manto’s story was rejected for a movie.The film was “  Ziddi” that saw two young aspirants  Devanand and Kishore Kumar made their debut as actor and singer respectively.Instead of Manto a story written by his good friend  Mrs Ismaat Chugtai was selected.Manto found this as an insult and a grave signal.

He packed his bag to Lahore ignoring all advises received from his well wishers. Everyone told him that for a creative man Bombay is much better a choice than Lahore but Manto was adamant. Many years after his death in 1968 Manto’s wife Safia gave an interview to one of his biographer and unfolded the mystery. It was not a wishful departure that Manto made. Infact few days after independence Manto was handed over a termination letter from Filmistan Studio an organization owned by his close friend Ashok Kumar.Along with this his story was also rejected for the first time.Manto realized that he is no more close to Ashok Kumar.Manto was so shattered that he never dared to tell this to his wife till his death.It was only after his death his wife found this termination letter from his papers.

Life at Lahore after those glory days of Bombay was not only insipid but also ruthless.The financial stability of the family was gone and Manto’s stories in the orthodox muslim society were considered vulgar and anti –islamic.

Lahore of 1940s – Soon Manto realised that Lahore is no match to Bombay for a creative mind.

Soon Manto realzied that  Lahore is not Bombay and Pakistan is not India.

His soul was full of the horror of partition violence specially that he read in newspaper and witnessed in Lahore.The brutal killing, endless looting, arson, abduction, rape, molestation, abuse,and forceful conversion all reeled in his stories.

Manto started writing stories that some time ran into 2 lines but made a message. He took his plots from refugee camp,from railway platform,from mental hospital,from brothel where riot mongers from both sides meet for evening refreshment even from bed where couples enjoying physical intimacy.

Manto proved he is not finished with his parting from Bombay film industry. Rather best of Manto came in the form of horrible stories that India never heard of. Although he limited himself only with Punjab partition and nothing with Bengal partition his story telling capacity captivated the nation.It was the time when Manto came out with his master pieces like akhri salute,Titawal ka kutta,Thanda gost,Gulab ki phhol,1919 ki ek baat,toba tek singh.

Manto’s pen illustrated the machine like killer’s frustration and agony.In one of his story which end in two lines Manto writes :

“ He is not dead, there is still some life left in him.”

“ I can not.I am really exhausted”  

 The story ends there but a cold chill  flows down to our spines .

Another small story runs like this. A man says it is a un-greatful nation.It is because he killed fifty pigs to make a mosque unholy but there is no buyer while on the other side of the border there is a rush in-front of a temple to buy beef. ( Story : Ungreatful Lot ).

Manto story only gives a hint – rest is the readers responsibility to foresee.

The biggest migration of human history – The bleeding of Punjab in 1947-48 made Manto a different man.He could not limit himself in the gloss of Hindi film world after that.

A story named Mistake goes like this.

After killing a man the riot monger removes the pyjama to  check the genital of the victim and cried by saying “ Oh Mistake”.This story ends there.It was Manto who told us how man became animal in that saga.In on of the story he created a character where a man is handing over his friend to group of people with a request not to kill him inside the railway compartment but on the platform. Reason is it will spoil this nice compartment !!!  In another story we found a public announcement made by the rioters after killing all who belonged to other religion.It was made to living passengers of train who were not killed as they belong to same religion.The riot mongers apologize not being able to offer anything more than milk and fruites as the timing of the train was not known to them.The most mind blowing story of Manto on this dark age was Jelly where an ice-cream  vendor got killed and his blood and melted ice from the ice cream box got mixed  on the road.Here comes an innocent girl who without understanding the situation tells her mother “ Look mother – Jelly “.Where Manto scores best is his vivid observation of brothels. He himself was a regular to those places.So the life and people in the trade of flesh came in best form when we read Manto.In the story Thanda Gost  a man failed to perform on bed and his mistress doubts his honesty. Here comes the climax when she charges him and the poor customer cries. He cries as he found himself a beast who had sex with a dead body after looting a house in the same afternoon.Take note of another story.It shows two friends brought a girl from a looted grouop at the cost of Rs 42.One friend spent the night with her.When all was over he asked her name.Hearing the name he was furious as he thought she belongs to other community.Realizing the fact that he was cheated he cried “ I want my money back “.The mindless looting of property was best described in another story where we see in a locality all houses are on fire except one.That intact shop houses a sign board that reads “ Building material and old furniture sold here”.

That was Mano – a master who takes you to the sequence but do not explain you the purport.You as a reader need to understand the rest.

There are many gems in maverick Manto’s bag which are yet to be translated from Urdu.

Manto – the man who recorded a time that we must remember.

When the man died in 1955 he was in penury and there was no fame to decorate him.The Govt of Pakistan was already in crisis and economy was in shatter.More to that an India born Manto was the most undesired man in the land which was made to give a homeland to muslim.

In his life and death Manto was alone – he never branded himself as communist or not even a progressive writer.He was unhappy to see what  that was going on in India and newly born Pakistan.He was restless to see the extreme downfall of humanity that caused countless life of common people.Being one of them Manto took the pen up to write down a piece of history.Not as a historian but as a man who witnesses the calamity as a member of the suffering group.His exit from Bombay was not done on his will.It was a culmination of that pernicious time.

Like the great film maker from Bengal Ritwik Ghatak ,Manto never accepted partition. As Ritwik Ghatak captured the impact of devastation in common Bengali people who were overnight uprooted from their home land which became East Pakistan in his Bengali movies like Meghe dhaka Tara, Komol Gandhar, Subarnarekha  and many more, Manto took up his pen to draw the same pangs of innumerable souls who saw unprecedented massacre in both side of Punjab.

Today Manto is not forgotten in India and Pakistan.It is good to see that there are few like me who still go through his works to understand a time that changed our lives for ever.At the same time it is also not good to see that Indian Govt has denied visa to Manto’s daughters when they wished to come to their father’s birth place in India.It would have been a wonderful gesture from Manmohan Singh who himself a victim of partition if he took up this matter personally.Instead of wasting time and money to restart India-Pakistan cricket series we should now try to rediscover people like Manto or Ritwik Ghatak who never accepted partition and documented the pain and pangs in their creative outcome which are finest in quality.

Reference :

The Storyteller by Ayesha Jalal – published in Screen ( The Indian Express publication ) – issue dated 18th May 2912.

Ahead of his time by Vidyarthi Chatterjee – published in The Statesman – issue dated 12th and 19th May 2012.

Mottled Dawn – collection of Manto’s story – Penguin Books

Stories of Partitions – Edited by Vikram Valler

Danga O Deshbhager Galpo ( Bengali collection of stories based on partition ) – Deep Prakashoni – Calcutta.

Ke baro Galpokar – Khoda na Manto by Sudip Basu ( Bengali )  – published in Sambad Protidin on 13th May 2012

All photographs are taken from internet.

Posted in Partition of India | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Rahul Dravid : The exceptional titan of Indian sports

For a  country which is not good or not even  average in any popular sports that world play & recognize a colonial game like cricket which has very limited acceptance & limited reach bound to become a national obsession .

Ever since ( say from early 1980s ) Indian football has become a laughing stock to the world & hockey a game where India was undisputed emperor for many years has started declining cricket was the only game where we could see our team are winning games & lifting trophies.Never mind it’s very small participation across the geography compare to soccer which has more members in it’s global governing body FIFA than United nation.

With India’s amazing success run started from an unexpected  world cup win in 1983 to another world cup like winning in Benson & Hedges cup in 1985  ( not to forget in 1984 Asia cup win ) cricket overshadowed all other games in India in terms  of reach, popularity & money.

A sport like cricket makes hero & it unmakes as well. In this subcontinent a great former cricketer who has given you a world cup can become a national political leader with a dream to become prime minister of a failed nation – it is real & possible.You can even elected to parliament by contesting general election never mind if you has a black history of betraying country on the field.You only need to be a man from minority community & you need a political party called Indian National Congress.He can mint money from commercial endorsement even after 16 years of his forced retirement from the game.. A popular cricketer in this subcontinent can do anything.

Like many of his predecessor Rahul Dravid could do all of these & indeed he did many of these.

One of most common face in commercial endorsement that runs from Pepsico  to Bank of Baroda to Samsung Electronics to Vodafone Rahul did the same what any celebrity will do to ensure a secure future.Above all he did something exceptional.Not once but time and again the prabasi marathi boy from Bangalore surprised us.He surprised us from the day he walked to bat at Lord’s in 1996.His rise was broadly overshadowed by another titan making debut in the same test.By scoring a century in his debut & that is also at a ground like Lords Sourav Ganguly imprinted such a foot print which was too big for Rahul.Still with his extra ordinary 90 plus Rahul cemented his position there for next 16 years. In their second test Sourav again scored a century & Rahul again stopped at 80 plus.Both came back home as newly crowned hero however lime light was more on Ganguly than Dravid for obvious reasons.16 years from 1996 when finally Rahul hanged his boot he was having double number of centuries over Ganguly who by that time had become a  good quiz master in local channel.

I have no  audacious aim to explain how big Rahul was as a cricketer. That is a job already done well by national or international media ( both print & electronics).In India many newspapers came up with special editorial to bow before the icon at the time of his sayonara song.Noone needs any new statistical data to evaluate  Rahul among the all time great cricketers.This is perhaps a job cricket pundits will love to do even hundred years from now.

Goodbye Rahul – player like you does not come often

Rahul first made his mark as an educated & cultured human being when he first spotted reading books whenever is not playing cricket or not sleeping.It was a habit no Indian cricketer shown in last 20 years specially who are from north India.Some of them are so ignorant about so many things that can  make a comedy movie.One such event I read during the era when Pataudi was captain of Indian team.Once when the team was in Calcutta & their bus was passing Victoria Memorial Hall Nawab Pataudi pointed that building to one of his team  mate & told it is his father-in-law’s palace.The team  mate took no time to believe it & worse to that he expressed his desire to go inside of this palace.Impish Nawab promptly invited him in evening for drink & told him to wait at the main gate on time.To our fun & shame the team mate was there on time only to find that it is a museum and  not a private palace.I am sure many such stories will be found in the kitty of Boria Majumdar and other serious scholar of cricket.

With this jaw falling story only a few example will help to understand why Rahul stands tall  like a wall among  others.

In 2001 or 2002  when Indian team was touring Pakistan  almost all players made themselves busy in Lahore.They were mostly visiting friends,discos and food street. Rahul took his time off and visited a place which was beyond any one’s imagination.He gone to visit the archaeological ruins of Taxasila university one of the prime temple of education in ancient India.The name of Taxasila was taken with equal dignity along with Nalanda and Vikramshila.Knowing this from his school days Rahul Dravid the superstar of Indian cricket paid a visit to the place and observed everythnig with an eye of a curious tourist.This is something that was found as a rare quality for a man who knows the art of batting better than most of the people of his time.

Rahul shown his steel once again in Calcutta.No – I am not talking about his historic partnership with Laxman against Australia in 2001.It was in 2005 end when captain Rahul came to play in Calcutta with his team minus Sourav Ganguly.It was the era when Sourav was thrown out of the team and cap of captain was shifted to Rahul.So called sports intellectual  spectators of Calcutta at Eden Gardens did everything obnoxious that was possible. Abusive words, vulgar implications and catcall were raining on Indian team.Their only ” crime” was they are playing without Sourav Ganguly – a “crime” which is just unpardonable for them.Standing in that tumult Rahul was calm & cold.Even Greg Chapel lost his cool and encountered the violent mob with a vulgar gesture but Rahul Dravid was just like Rahul Dravid.Considering his long frienedship and his modesty Rahul did not react in front of media.He only expressed his frustration by saying that it is difficult for him to locate the venue whether it is in India or in Pakistan.

A perfect gentleman for a game meant for the same race

My personal experience of seeing a giant named Rahul was not in cricket stadium but in a debate in Calcutta that took place in early 2011.Organised by Calcutta based English daily The Telegraph the debate was participated by a bunch of highly respected scholars and orators like historian Ram Chandra Guha, minister Salman Khurshid, former sud editor of India Today Swapan Dasgupta, Suhel Seth and many more.Only two names in that list made us  doubtful as per their oratory ability and intellects were Miss Mamata Banerjee then union railway minister and Rahul Dravid former captain of Indian cricket team.While Miss Mamata Banerjee did justice to our doubt as she went on speaking meaningless and irrelevant  things in high vocal cord and in a language( Bengali for sure ) which none of the other panelist except Swapan Dasgupta and Suhel Seth could understand, Rahul proved us wrong.Not only wrong but more. His soft yet strong voice delivered such a rich presentation that was really a music for ears.No dramatisation yet thrilling was his words that explained the utility of independent management of sports rather than being controlled by Government.India was about to start their world cup campaign with out him.Rahul had no regret that he was out of a team  that ironically played last world cup under his captaincy.I have seen playing Rahul in Eden.I have seen his classic cover drive or leg cut both as an Indian batsman and a batsman playing for Bangalore Royal Challangers but that day in Netaji Indoor Stadium watching him as a participant of a serious debate I rediscover a new legend in him.

Sourav, Rahul & Sachin : the trinity that ruled Indian cricket for long – among them Rahul stands tall.

One story that I came to know from Raju Mukherjee’s article where Raju has recalled Rahul’s rich collection of books and it’s use.Raju once collected 2 rare books on cricket and had a plan to make Rahul surprise by gifting those to him.To his sweet shock it was found that  those books are already in his collection.I know one person who as a manager of a MNC electronics company had the oprtunity to travel abroad with Rahul. In those days Rahul was brand ambassador of that company.The man is of an opinion that Rahul’s gentle gesture and modest yet down to earth approach is only comparable with saint.

The way Rahul managed and ended his career is something educational for every celebrity.In his sunset he was not fade but brighter than ever.

Goodbye Rahul – many cricketer will score 100000 runs in impending days, many of them will score more than 36 centuries or many of them will break your record of maximum catch but a titan like you will seldom come.

You walked towards your sunset in most graceful way.

Hail the titan.

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A nemesis called Kashmir – a sin of Hari Singh and we pay the price !

The blue sky, green valley & white snow........Kashmir was always an irresistible temptation for India,China & Pakistan...Photo by author

Like every baby born in this side of the border I was being told & taught from my childhood that India’s claim on Kashmir is very legitimate & it is the mistake of Jawaharlal Neheru who failed to lead the nation on this issue & made this mess.Needless to mention that the devil role of Pakistan since 1947  has also been  told like folk lore.No wonder every child born on the other side of boundary gets an equally reverse version of this story.I am sure in every household of Lahore, Karachi,Multan or Islamabad children grow up hearing that Pakistan is the legitimate claimer of Kashmir & India the monster is doing all wrong things with innocent people of Kashmir for last 65 years.

As I read more & more on Kashmir( many online materials as well ), I get more & more perplexed on the issue.So I have recently started thinking differently.Was it only an ego clash between India & Pakistan that made an endless  bleeding for years or the internal bleeding & gradual debacle of Kashmir was already there when it was under the rule of Dogra dynasty ? Was this sacred land which was once  predominantly populated by Hindus really ruled well by her Hindu rulers at the end of 18th century ?

Both history and  mythology speak about a saga which vouches the fact that Kashmir was a sacred land of hindu kingdom from time beyond recollection.The mythology refers that it was land founded by Maharishi Kashyap the grand son of Bramha .Kashmir is believed to be the home of Devi Saraswati. Even today at the time of worshiping devi Saraswati priests in south Indfa face on north & chant ”  namaste sarada devi kashmirmandalavasini  “.

The modern Kashmiri language in which today’s people speak in the valley has more than 60% words which are originated from Sanskrit.In 1211 when Delhi was already under muslim rulers, Kashmir was still a hindu kingdom.It is not before 1320  when the last hindu king was vanquished & muslim invaders from west captured the land.Ever since the soil of Kashmir was washed by the blood of hindus for many many years.Every time muslim invaders entered India from west their sword & lust robbed Kashmir.They converted the mass to islam  & most of it’s great temples were destroyed or gradually deserted .The majestic ruins of Markandaya Surya temple at Martan on the way to Pahelgaon is still a burning testimony of hindu rules in Kashmir.In 1753 the land was won by Afgans & then it came in the hands of Sikhs on 16th March 1846 after a treaty instituted between British East India Company & Sikh ruler Gulab Singh .It was the darkest era in Kashmir.In 1856 after the last Sikh war it came in the hand of Dogra king.

Dogras of Kashmir was just like any other ruler of Indian subcontinent.

Their lives were full of limitless luxury & spending on wine, women,tiger hunting, Rolls Royce cars supplemented by prolong stay in Europe’s most expensive hotels for months at the tax payers money. More than RS 25  lakhs was spent in the coronation function of Hari Singh the last hindu king of Kashmir in 1926 where an American motion picture team was hired to do video recordings.The king was generous enough to clad his horse & elephant with gems & gold.

In 1931 he visited London for round table conference with his pregnant wife & took her to France where his only son Karan was born in 1932.It was life in king size for him. With all these there was a royal scandal in Paris hotel in 1924 with a white woman that cost Maharaja the earth.The scandal made  such a mayhem that Time magazine took the pleasure of covering almost every single details.It was found to be a deep rooted conspiracy of fooling an Indian prince by a group of imposters among whom his lady love Mrs Robinson was a key figure. Hari Singh with many eggs on his face came back to Kashmir & his angry uncle sent him for a penance to purify his soul.Married for four times & finally divorced from the last wife this man named Hari Singh  is good enough for any Bollywood movie where love, sex & dhoka will have equal shares in frame.

Hari Singh's summer palace at Jammu - Luxury at it's best - photo by author

His summer palace in Jammu was a master piece &  furnished with the most extra ordinary furniture & electrical gadgets of that era.The palace now a museum has very little to exhibit as most of the articles were shifted to Bombay with him where finally he died as an unknown, unwanted & broken man in 1961.

His only son Karan is a scholar & highly respected for his profound knowledge on various contemporary issues.His vocal cord is so enrich that even The Gramophone Company of India ( HMV ) hired him many a time for English voice over of their many unforgettable products.One such product I remember was ” The Voice of Freedom ” released in 1997 .The collection had rare voice recordings of people like Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Neheru, Subhash Chandra Bose, BR Ambedkar, Krishna Menon etc.Karan Singh read an excellent commentary in that connecting all these great speeches.I do not know why HMV has discontinued this marvelous piece from the market.A statesman with an rich experience ,a foreign diplomat & minister in central at various capacity Karan Singh is also an activist working for wild life. Have done his Phd on  Rishi Aravinda ( once a firebrand lead of Congress in early 1900s ) of Pondichery Karan Singh  writes serious articles in major newspapers.  Known to be very close to Birla & Gandhi family Karan Singh was last in  news when he unsuccessfully contested as a Congress candidate against Atal Vehari Vajpayee  from Lucknow.

Let us come back to Hari Singh & his time.

All the above facts told about him was normal & very commonly found in almost every princely state of India under Raj.Some of the examples are even worse.So history does not blame Hari Singh for his kingly gestures rather history recorded some of his remarkable initiatives which have no matches.

Compare to his time Hari Singh was no doubt a progressive man in his social outlook.It is astonishing to find that this man made education compulsory for girls and  allowed hindu widows to remarry.He introduced seven years imprisonment  & lashes for abducting Kashmiri girls & Time magazine reported that in the brothels of Calcutta & Madras  this action  increased the price for Kashmiri girls by several times as suddenly their supply was less than their too high demand.It was he who established Jammu & Kahmir Bank & Kashmir Emporium.He also abolished forced labor & prostitution.The most audacious thing that he did  was to allow low caste hindus in every temple.

Can you ignore such a man ? Never.

Hari Singh - the last hindu king of Kashmir- photo from internet

At the end of 2nd world war when it was the pack up time for Brits from all it’s colonies India was a very very special case.Nowhere in the world Brits stayed so long as ruler & particularly never ruled such a vast diverse population.” Two nation theory ” was accepted & it was on card to divide India on the basis of religions. At that point inclusion of 570  princely states was a matter to discuss.The most complex divorce in the history of mankind was indeed a gargantuan task.

Very naturally  princely states where hindu & sikhs are in majority came to India subject to the geographical proximity.Some exception like Junagar & Hydrabad where muslim rulers were  keen of joining Pakistan.Both the cases were nipped in bud by Sardar Patel.In Junagarh Indian force marched & helped the nawab to catch his flight to Pakistan with his countless number of wives where as in Hydrabadi Nizam’s private soldiers were razed by the end of September 1947.In both the cases it was a cake walk for Sardar Patel the man responsible for merging princely states to Indian republic.

When every prince in Indian princely state finalised the fate of their people only exception was Hari Singh who did the biggest blunder of his life & his people.

The impractical day dreamer was influenced by a god man called Santadev who while staying & enjoying royal hospitality at his palace told that Hari Singh the great maharaja is destined to rule from ” Lahore to Ladak”. This made Hari Singh mad, blind & adamant.

Hari Singh was not in a position to realise that in modern world a land locked state like one of his own can not sustain.When Lord Mountbatten personally visited him in May 1947  & tabled the paper of ” instrument of Accession ” under Indian Independence Act 1947  Hari Singh gave no consent. A hindu King with 97% muslim subject was still day dreaming of an independent state like Nizam of Hydrabad.

A disgusted Mountbatten even told him to join Pakistan to cut the case chort & that was also not acceptable. Md Ali Jinnah wanted to meet him through the excuse of visiting the beautiful valley to recover his lost health.A state with such a vast muslim population makes clear point to come in Pakistan & Jinnah was over sure about this. His shock found no limit when he knew  that Hari Singh does not want him in Kashmir  even as a tourist.

Jawaharlal Neheru who was clever enough to play the card of his Kashmiri origin whenever needed to create zingoism was also not allowed to enter Srinagar in 1946 during the period of ” Quit Kashmir ” movement led by National Conference leader Shekh Abdullah. Soon Shekh the mass leader with a pro India attitude was jailed by Hari Singh.His popularity among his subjects specially to that of muslims was always below average.Surprisingly he never realised this in his life time.

Side by side there was practically no development work to eradicate poverty of common people or preventive measures to avoid annual flood.There was hardly any place with electricity beyond Srinagar till 1940s or there was hardly any college to match that of in Punjab or Delhi.However new golf courses & palaces were built to satisfy Dogra king’s pleasure.Kashmir was indeed a place where endless natural beauty were peacefully co-existing with endless poverty of common people.The popularity of Hari Singh was at the lowest of it’s low.

The day India  & Pakistan celebrated their first independence day common people of Kashmir were confused & under the shadow of panic by thinking their uncertain future.Fanatic muslims were thinking that they are going to be a part of Pakistan not because that it is the first country in the world created for muslims.Rather they all wanted to overcome misrule of Hari Singh.On the other hand Kashmiri hindus were overjoyed & confident that their hindu king will establish  an independent Kashmir & if that does not work out then one day India will come to kiss them.

In such an atmosphere on the other side of the border Pakistan was not sleeping as India was.The wounds Jinnah suffered was still bleeding & gambit to over throw Hari Singh was under process in Karachi.

Neheru visiting one of civilian women armed force of Kashmir in 1947 - photo by Ramchandra Mehta

On 22nd  October 1947 Pakistan army invaded Kashmir in an incognito of Pathan tribal & a gory phase again entered in the pages of history.It was loot, murder rape & abduction at it’s best by the invaders .On 24th October when Hari Singh was celebrating Dussera in his royal palace the only power station was burnt down & Srinagar dipped into darkness.A poor defense from Hari Singh’s private army  was reduced to rubble with no time.The common people & members of National Conference were in job to protect Srinagar from Pathans.Even girls & children took up arms & paraded on the street of Srinagar.

Hari Singh took little time to flee Srinagar. With a convoy of 85 cars carefully loaded with all that he can take away from deserted capital.

The salvaged treasures included his 3 living wives ( out of that 2 were childless ) & son Karan who was just back from Doon school with a broken leg after completing his senior Cambridge.The finest polo pony or even expensive ruby necklace valued Rs 1.25 lakhs in those days from the idol of their family temple  was also shifted.It is said that Rs 500 crore of wealth loaded in 8 trucks were taken to Jammu.

While he was in run for his life & pride Hari Singh did what he should have done in June of the same year.His office contacted New Delhi for help & rest what they say is not history but a blunder.

Sardar Patel the deputy prime minister of India was not a well read man like Jawaharlal but he understood his business better than anyone else of his time.A man with a strong hindu symmpathy he did not miss the opertunity to negotiate with Hari Singh.” Take help & join India ” was his simple message &  Hari Singh had no choice.This is what the entire Pakistan think along with that there was no invasion but only mutiny against Hindu king by locals.

However the Indian version says Hari Singh saw that mask falling from Jinnah’s face & with his sound mind agreed to sign the ” Instrument of Accession ” with a special condition that the agreement stands void & null if India does not help to save his people.

Close associates said when the broken man was finally arrived to his Jammu Palace he looked towards hill & cried saying ” we have lost Kashmir ” !!!!!!!

One that night before going to sleep he told his secretary that if roaring of Indian air force is not heard by morning he should shoot him in sleep.

Receiving upon the message from Kashmir Lord Mountbatten kept his word.Indian army air dashed Srinagar & prevent  further progress of Pakistan soldiers.

Hari Singh finally signed the instrument of accession on 26th October 1947 & wrote  a personal letter to Mountbatten which starts with “ I have to inform your Excellency that a grave emergency has arisen in my State and request immediate assistance of your Government.The same letter ended with “ I have accordingly decided to do so and I attach the Instrument of Accession for acceptance by your Government. The other alternative is to leave my State and my people to free-looters. On this basis no civilized Government can exist or be maintained. This alternative I will never allow to happen as long as I am Ruler of the State and I have life to defend my country.I am also to inform your Excellency’s Government that it is my intention at once to set up an interim Government and ask Sheikh Abdullah to carry the responsibilities in this emergency with my Prime Minister”.

The front page of Hindustan Times on 26th Oct 1947 - It was a celebration time for India.Photo from internet

Indian soldiers acted smart & speedy. Although many places were salvaged but a big part was lost to Pakistan.The war continued till end December & finally when Indian army was close to recover more places.It was a celebration time in India without knowing much what actually is happening in Kashmir. Jawaharlal suddenly announced seize fire on 31st Dec & took the issue to UN without making  any consultation to Patel who was home minister of India.

Hari Singh neither  a favored man to Mountbatten nor to  Jawaharlal found Bombay a better place than New Delhi.Bombay was selected  due to it’s race course, luxury hotels, elite clubs & polo ground which were  not that good in New Delhi.The vanquished king sent his son Karan to New York where he celebrated a memorable ( !!!!!! ) new year eve on 31st December 1947 & he ( the king ) made him busy to build a palace in Bombay where some new wall was regularly built & demolished.It was because Hari Singh used to believe that he will die the day this palace is completed.

If Hari Singh would have joined Pakistan by honoring two nation theory or if he would have taken a prompt decision to join India with support of National Conference whose leaders were all from mass back ground the history of this subcontinent would be different.Jinnah would feel honored if he got a chance to talk to Hari Singh across the table.Instead of doing right thing on right time Hari Singh trusted an uneducated God man & overestimated his administrative skills which finally culminated into a meaningless ego clash for 2 poor countries.

We still pay the price of an individual’s baseless ambition.

Let us be honest – let us be fair to fact.

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