SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF FREE INDIA

S C Bose

Netaji as the head of the Government declared:
Now that the dawn of freedom is at hand, it is the duty of the Indian people to set up a Provisional Government of their own, and launch the last struggle under the banner of that Government. But with all the Indian leaders in prison (in India) and the people at home totally disarmed – it is not possible to set up a Provisional Government within India or to launch an armed struggle under the aegis of that Government. It is, therefore, the duty of the Indian Independence League in East Asia, supported by all patriotic Indians at home and abroad, to undertake this task – the task of setting up a Provisional Government of Azad Hind (Free India), and of conducting the last fight for freedom, with the help of the Army of Liberation (that is, the Azad Hind Fauj or the Indian National Army) organised by the League.
The Provisional Government is entitled to, and herby claims, the allegiance of every Indian. It guarantees religious liberty as well as equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens. It declares its firm resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation equally and transcending all the differences cunningly fostered by an alien government in the past.
In the name of God, in the name of bygone generations who have welded the Indian people into one nation and in the name of the dead heroes who have bequeathed to us a tradition of heroism and self-sacrifice – we call upon them to launch the final struggle against the British and all their allies in India and to prosecute that struggle with valour, perseverance and full faith in final victory – until the enemy is expelled from Indian soil and the Indian people are once again a Free Nation.
(Proclamation of the Provisional Government of Free India, 21st October 1943).

The Indian National Army, popularly known as the Azad Hind Fauj, had advanced through Burma with the assistance of Japan and reached the frontiers of India by 1943. In early 1944, the Azad Hind Fauj crossed the Indo-Burma border and finally fought with the enemy on Indian soil. Advancing throughout Burma and after a difficult fight with British forces, the Azad Hind Fauj hoisted the tricolor at Moirang, Manipur on 14th April 1944. Their march to Delhi was halted due to the advance of monsoon and superior military might of Anglo-American forces. These two reasons had turned the tide against the INA. The INA had to retreat. The defeat of INA laid the seed of ultimate victory over British imperialism. As Netaji had predicted – once the news of the heroic exploits of the INA men and women with their ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of India would reach India, it would galvanise the people to rise against the British Raj. This miscalculation on the part of the British authorities helped it to happen in no small measure.

We know about the struggle of INA throughout 1943 to 1945, but we also need to know about the Provisional Government of Free India, which was headed by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Bose had hailed the granting of Independence to Burma by the Japanese on 1st August 1943. Bose said, ” Just as the peacock emblem now flies over Government House in Rangoon – so will the tricolor soon fly over the Red Fortress of Delhi “. Filipinos ( now Philippines ) was granted Independence on 17th October. Now, on his turn, he prepared to inaugurate the Provisional Government on October 21st. Bose had not drafted the Proclamation till 20th October. According to Mr. S. A Ayer ( Minister of Propaganda ), ” Bose took a handful of blank paper and started writing swiftly in pencil, sheet by sheet. There was no backward glance or a correction; and when it was typed there was not a word or comma to alter. He wrote his statement on Proclamation in the same swift, absorbed way, his eyes never leaving the paper. It was nearly 6 a.m. by the time he completed it; he had been sipping black coffee since midnight “

On 21st October, Bose reached Cathay Hall in Singapore. The Hall was decorated with banners, slogans & national flag. Then he opened with a major speech and claimed ” the fullest support, not only of the civil population of India, but also a large section of Britain’s Indian Army “. It would be, Bose said, like the Provisional Government founded by Kemal Pasha in Anatolia after First World War. For the present its scope would be limited, military affairs must dominate, but when time came it would assume the ‘ functions of a normal government operating in it’s own territory ‘. In an atmosphere charged with emotion, Bose, found himself hardly able to speak, took the oath :
” In the name of God, I take this sacred oath that to liberate India and the thirty eight crores of my countrymen, I, Subhas Chandra Bose, will continue the sacred war of freedom till the last breath of my life.
I shall remain always a servant of India and to look after the welfare thirty eight crores of Indian Brothers and sisters, shall be for me my highest duty.
Even after winning freedom, I shall always be prepare to shed even the last drop of my blood for the preservation of India’s freedom “.
[ Bose reading the Proclamation ]

The members of the Cabinet took a similar pledge standing before him each in turn. A choir sang the national anthem, the same song by Rabindranath Tagore, which had been sung in Germany, now newly translated to Hindustani, and set music at Bose’s command by a young Indian soldier.

The Provisional Government of Free India consisted of a Cabinet headed by Subhas Chandra Bose as the Head of the State, The Prime Minister and the Minister for War and Foreign Affairs. The other cabinet ministers are as follows :
• Capt. Dr. Laxmi Swaminathan – Minister in Charge of Women’s Organization
• Mr. S. A. Ayer – the Minister of Broadcasting and Publicity
• Lt. Col. A. C. Chatterji – the Minister of Finance
• The Indian National Army was represented by Armed Forces ministers, including:
• Lt. Col. Aziz Ahmed[16][17]
• Lt. Col. N. S. Bhagat
• Lt. Col. J. K. Bhonsle
• Lt. Col. Guizara Singh
• Lt. Col. M.Z. Kiani
• Lt. Col. A. D. Loganathan
• Lt. Col. Ehsan Qadir
• Lt. Col. Shahnawaz Khan
The Provisional Government was also constituted and administered by a number of Secretaries and Advisors to Subhas Chandra Bose, including:
• A. M. Sahay – Secretary
• Karim Ghani
• Debnath Das
• D.M. Khan
• A. Yellapa
• J. Thivy
• Sardar Ishar Singh Narula
• A. N. Sarkar – the government’s official Legal Advisor

Every Indian citizen must know about the struggle of INA and of course its contribution to the Indian freedom struggle. It’s our duty to remember the courageous who laid down their lives for India’s Freedom. The Provisional Government of Free India ( Arzi Hukumat-e- Azad Hind ) was formed today, and we must celebrate this day as our Independence Day, because on 15th August, India was divided and there was a transfer of power. I end this article by a quote by Netaji : ” One individual may die for an idea, but that idea will, after his death, incarnate itself in a thousand lives “. Let us follow his ideology, ideals and transform India in his way.

Jai Hind!

Submitted by : Dyutimay Bannerjee