Who really won independence for India?

Why does the Western world, and especially Britain, love Gandhi so much? Could it be because it flatters our national ego to believe that we left India because we were moved by the peaceful opposition of a saint-like figure in a loin-cloth, in contrast with, say, the French departure from Algeria, which followed years of bloody violence culminating in humiliation?

Yet Clement Attlee, when asked about Gandhi’s importance in the British decision to quit India, replied with a single word: “Minimal”. The reality is that Britain was financially, economically and militarily exhausted and crippled by the Second World War, but also, a fact that is conveniently ignored in Britain today, that Britain could no longer rely on the loyalty of the Indian Army.

This was, to some extent, the result of the actions of one man, who has been written out of British history but who is regarded in India as a national hero. His portrait hangs in the Indian Parliament and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) Airport is named after him along with one of the main thoroughfares of the city. He was Subhas Chandra Bose and he is known even today by the name he chose in imitation of Hitler and Mussolini: Netaji (Respected Leader). Bose was a top member of the Indian National Congress along with Gandhi and Nehru in the late 1930s. Unlike Gandhi, he wanted to drive the British out with revolutionary force. When war came he escaped India via Aghanistan and in 1941 went to Germany and organised Indian POWs to fight with the Germans, but Hitler was lukewarm and showed little interest.

The Japanese, on the other hand, thought Bose could be very useful to them and had him smuggled by submarine to Sumatra, then to Tokyo and on to Singapore where not far short of half of the Indian POWs joined him in the Indian National Army to fight alongside the Japanese in Burma. The number who actually saw conflict was small and their influence on the battle even smaller. They were generally regarded with contempt by Indian troops when they were captured and treated badly. Their real influence on the politics of India came after the war when some of their number were placed on trial by the British for treason. There were widespread protests by both civilians and military, culminating in the Indian Naval Mutiny of 1946.

Read the full story in History Today:
(There is a typo "December 1945" which clearly should have been "December 1943")

India's Divided Loyalties?

Peter Heehs looks at the Indian army who threw in their lot against the Raj and with the Japanese in the Second World War.

The fall of Singapore was one of the greatest disasters ever suffered by the British armed forces. Left unprotected by the destruction of the American fleet in Pearl Harbor and the sinking of the warships Prince of Wales and Repulse, the garrison waited helplessly as the Japanese army swept down the Malay peninsula. The siege began on February 8th, 1942, and was over a week later. 85,000 men, what was left of the British, British-Indian, and Australian forces, surrendered to the invader.

Not all the defeated soldiers had to spend the next three years in Japanese prison camps. Of the 60,000 Indians that surrendered, 25,000 chose to go over to the enemy. They became the core of the Indian National Army (INA), which two years later took part in the Japanese invasion of India... [read on]
Since this article was written, the History Today article has been placed behind a paywall, but the following article on Bose may be of interest:

Subhas Chandra Bose: The Afterlife of India’s Fascist Leader

You can find out more about Bose from Wikipedia and by googling.