Atanu Dey On India's Development

A Simple Question on Subhas Jayanti

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Netaji Subhas Bose

Netaji Subhas Bose

Today is Jan 23rd, the birthday of Subhas Chandra Bose, also known as Netaji, who was born in 1897 on this day. Thinking about him and what he stood for, I realized that I don’t know the answer to a simple question that is of great significance for India.

Subhas Bose had his differences with Mohandas K. Gandhi, the leader of the Indian National Congress, and he was ousted from the INC in 1939. Gandhi did not like opposition to his ideas. It seems all Indian leaders with the inherited name “Gandhi” also inherit that trait of being autocratic. I suppose the main bone of contention between Gandhi and Bose was that the latter did not wish to forego the use of force to persuade the British to leave. To Gandhi and the Congress, Bose became a bigger enemy than the British.

Bose created the “Indian National Army” to fight the British but it was short lived — Aug 1942-Sept 1945. Shortly afterwards, he disappeared under mysterious circumstances. It is still uncertain where or when he died. Regardless of that, he had an impact on the British.

Clement Attlee, the British Prime Minister during whose rule India became independent, mentioned that INA activities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (which weakened the Indian Army – the very foundation of the British Empire in India) and the Royal Indian Navy mutiny in 1946 were major reasons that made the British realise that they were no longer in a position to rule India. [Wiki]

We all know that the British ruled India until August of 1947. I have a fairly good idea of why they left — although it differs significantly with the conventional wisdom. I give absolutely no credence to the persistent claim that Gandhi won India’s independence from the British. That’s another story.

What I don’t know is this: how many were the British that ruled India?

  • What was the population of India? That is, how many were being ruled?
  • What was the population of Britain? That is, how many belonged to the class of rulers?
  • What was the population of Britishers in India? That is, how many Britishers lived and worked in India ruling over the Indians?

I realize of course that there is a time dimension to these questions but for the sake of simplicity, we can consider the answers to those for a specific year, say 1900. The wiki says, there were 200 million Indians (which I guess includes the ancestors of today’s Pakistanis and Bangladeshis) living in India, and 38 million Britishers living in the UK. That’s a ruler/ruled ratio of 1:5.

The picture is bleak from an Indian perspective. There were five times as many Indians in the world as Britishers and yet Indians got ruled. It gets even bleaker when you consider that all the Britishers were not in India ruling over Indians. Hence that last question: how many Britishers were physically present in India in 1900 ruling over 200 million Indians?

Was their number 20,000? That makes the ruler:ruled ratio an astounding 1 is to 10,000. Every Britisher present in India ruled over 10,000 Indians.

Though I can find out by doing a bit of search on the web, I don’t know the answer to that question off the top of my head. I can only suppose it was less than 100,000. It could be as few as 5,000 for all I know. Do you know the answer? If you do, please leave a comment.

Why do I ask? Because I believe that the answers would be critically revealing. It will tell us why India is faltering today, and what we must to do to prevent India from totally failing.

If there were only a few thousand Britishers controlling 200 million Indians, it just means that Indians must have been following the orders of the Britishers. It means that Indians under the order of the Britishers were oppressing other Indians. It means that Indians could not have been subjugated without the active participation of some Indians in that subjugation.

It means that there is a long tradition of traitors in India’s history, since India has been ruled by foreign invaders for many centuries.

It means that the reign of traitors is not over yet.

Indians must know that there were almost insignificantly few Britishers who ruled 200,000,000 Indians. The traitors have kept the game of exploitation and impoverishment of India, and the rest of the Indians have allowed it to happen.

In Dec 2011, I wrote that “the Congress are not traitors” –

The Congress is the enemy. Their goal is to destroy the country to enrich themselves. They are true to their goal and cannot be faulted for it. Indians who support the Congress are traitors since treason lies in aiding the enemy. Even some of the biggest names in the BJP have aided the Congress in the past, and continue to do so. They are traitors. Let’s distinguish between the enemy and the traitors. While I may grudgingly respect the enemy, I have nothing but contempt for traitors.

There are too many Indian traitors. They aid the enemy. Let us beware.

  • jpx

    There’s plenty of documented evidence that Indians followed British order to persecute Indians. Any colony must depend on this behavior. At some level, even the person that cleaned Lord SoAndSo’s bathroom was complicit, albeit not by violence. You might argue, if Lord SoAndSo found a chronic shortage of bathroom cleaners, he might have gotten disgusted and headed back to XyzShire sooner.

  • AG

    Duniya jhukti hai, jhukaane waala chahiye (the world will supplicate, you need someone with the power to make them grovel).

    India has been ruled by invaders for so long that we’ve forgotten how to fight back. As i read about Shivaji, it is clear to me that the so-called invincible mughals were very vincible.

    Gandhi and non-violence being foisted on us is an orwellian ploy to brainwash us into forgetting our martial roots so the 4Ms can run over us like the mughals ran over nalanda beheading every buddhist monk in sight.

  • shaanse00

    In my humble opinion, the reason the handful of Britishers could rule over millions of Indians and over a vast expanse of a sub-continent, can be found by looking at this map of British India.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:British_Indian_Empire_1909_Imperial_Gazetteer_of_India.jpg

    Looking at the map, it is clear the British ruled India through existing rulers or their vassals, who were accepted by the Indian public. These rulers were allowed to earn a share (for themselves & family) in the taxes collected; the British pampered every whim of this lot, including even building palaces. Mysore palace is prime example – After defeating Tipu, the British brought forth some kid of Wadiyars (who were in obscurity) , made him king, got him accepted by the local Indian population, who never revolted.

    The only power who could resist the British were the Marathas, but they were so divided that they were defeated, here, however the British did not allow any other vassal, and ruled the territory governed by Marathas by themselves. Same with Bengal.

    It is no surprise that the protests against British, using constitutional means (Gokhale et al) or revolutionaries, originated in Maharashtra and Bengal, which were directly governed by British. Rest of the country felt that they were still ruled by the Indian princes!

  • http://twitter.com/mallikarjunasj MallikarjunaJalageri

    Eye-opener.

    I now realize the meaning of Ravindranath Tagore’s words, “Even if all Indian’s do spit on England, It’ll sink”.

    I just tend to think,
    Is it our bad-luck, that we deserve the leaders we have? or is it
    the good luck of our leaders, who deserve the masses like us ?

    Inspite of Sardar Patel, Subhas Bose, Jawaharlal held power for 16 years.

    Now, from 10 years, Manmohan Singh is ruling amidst ……… well…

    History tends to repeat, ….

    • Aishwarya Mishra

      Netaji held power?? Dude u know history??

      • http://twitter.com/mallikarjunasj MallikarjunaJalageri

        Apologies for typo,

        It should have been,

        Inspite of Sardar Patel & Subhas Bose, It was Jawaharlal who held power for 16 years.

  • http://anupknair.wordpress.com/ anup nair

    A rough chronology of events that conclusively show how Bose’s INA was instrumental in unravelling the British rule (pieced together from wiki)

    By 1943 and 1944, courts martial were taking place in India of former personnel of the British Indian Army who were captured fighting in Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA) ranks or working in support of the INA’s subversive activities. These did not receive any publicity or political sympathies and support till much later.

    The INA trials or the Red Fort Trials refer to the courts-martial of a number of officers of the Indian National Army between November 1945 and May 1946 variously for treason, torture, murder and abetment to murder. They had, like a large number of other troops and officers of the British Indian Army, joined the Indian National Army and later fought in Imphal and Burma alongside the Japanese forces in allegiance to Azad Hind.

    During the trial, mutiny broke out in the Royal Indian Navy, incorporating ships and establishments of the RIN throughout India, from Karachi to Bombay and from Vizag to Calcutta. The
    most significant, if disconcerting factor for the Raj, was the significant militant public support that it received.

    The Royal Air Force Mutiny of 1946 was a mutiny on dozens of Royal Air Force stations in India and South Asia in January 1946
    after they were influenced by freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose INA, over conditions of slow demobilization and conditions of service following the end of World War II. The mutiny began at Karachi and later spread to involve nearly 50,000 men over 60 RAF stations in India and Ceylon, including the then largest RAF base at Kanpur and RAF bases as far as Singapore.

    The events of the RAF mutiny were ultimately resolved, and
    some of the mutineers faced courts martial. However, the precedent set by this event was important in instigating subsequent actions by the Royal Indian Air Force (12 days before the Royal Indian Navy mutiny) and later, the Royal Indian Navy in February 1946 in
    which 78 of a total of 88 ships mutinied. Lord Wavell, Viceroy of India, commented at the time: “I am afraid that example of the Royal Air Force, who got away with what was really a mutiny, has some responsibility for the present situation.

  • Kiran Pai

    Less than 1000 is the figure according to none other than Niall Ferguson. This is a Top Secret and not supposed to be discussed in the open, especially in front of Indians. Imagine the uselessness of all the history Indians study for 10 years in their school. How would you explain to a school boy that 30 crore people started a non violent freedom movement to drive out a 1000 Britishers. Even Niall only mentions this number in a wily way hidden in a random article.

  • Pramod

    Heart Wrenching but true! Raises questions which makes one’s head hang in shame. A nation of self centered idiots and cowards (not all but a vast majority), woefully immersed in their small world and not bothered about anything can’t help being subjugated whether by outsiders or insiders. Reading your post reminded me of the below quotes:-

    The history of Hinduism is nothing but a history of betrayers and cowards – K Vishwanath. Though not 100% true is neither incorrect.

    The Mohammedan Conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history.
    It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precarious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within. The Hindus had
    failed to organize their forces for the protection of their frontiers and their capitals, their wealth and their freedom, from the hordes of Scythians, Huns, Afghans and Turks hovering about India’s boundaries and waiting for national weakness to let them in. For four hundred years (600-1000 A.D.) India invited conquest; and at last it came. [...] The bitter lesson that may be drawn from this tragedy is that eternal vigilance is the price of civilization. A nation must love peace, but keep its
    powder dry. — Will Durant In Story of Civilization

    This can be extended to Britishers and to traitors within. I don’t see we learning anything from the past (are we aware of it in the first place? ) so India will always be open to conquest and destruction.. It’s sad to write like this about my country… that too a great one.. a unique nation which is not just a piece of land..

  • VirtualPresence

    The traitors probably started off as honest, innocent people who failed to realize that they were being played by the brits. The rewards weren’t too shabby and the power ride was just the steroid they needed. With time they realized that they had either crossed or were pushed over the point of no return. With no social / familial respect to come home to and as a way of rationalizing their actions they turned more aggressive and more traitorous.

    MKG failed to adapt Ashoka’s ahimsa philosophy for his times and began touting bull shit like the “take it with your legs spread” attitude. Bose realized MKG’s fallacies and had the courage and foresight to implement his vision of the freedom struggle. Even in death S.C. Bose was sullied by the INC.

  • DJ

    To quote a transvestite Brit: The Brits ruled India with the cunning use of flags.

    Did India even exist before 1947? I know there were kings who held the majority of the region, but people of various sub-regions (especially at the extremes and the south) tend to argue otherwise, even today. And, explains why it would be easy to pit one king against his neighboring king…

  • PizzyLFC

    I’ve read there were about 1000 ICS officers who essentially ruled India. They acted as the judicial and administrative arm of British rule in India. I’ve also read that some of these were as young as 22 years and were in charge of over a million people in their districts. I don’t know how many British officers served on the imperial Indian army. Would be interesting to know.

  • ramesh

    Dear atanu, its great u raised this point. I recommend an even
    more embarrassing question: what was the total percentage of muslims vis-à-vis Hindus in the 19th century, when the British effectively took over. I do
    not remember the exact source but it was around 24% as per a survey conducted
    by the British. So it was even less earler !!!.
    I don’t want to be to negative but there is something inherent
    drawback (“something rotten in Denmark” to quote Shakespeare) in the Hindu
    society, which has led to it being a “ruled” race for centuries, first under
    the Muslim, then the British and now under the Kaangress (after all we elected
    Sonia Gandhi). One foreign traveler (was it Bernier or Tavernier?), during (Shahjahan’s ?) reign had commented on this feature: that the Hindoos were more numerous but the Muslims lorded over them. Just for example, although this is equally trueof other Hindu communities, let’s look at the Marathas: what was a movement for
    Swaraj under Shivaji degenerated into a race for acquiring territories and
    plunder under the Peshwas and the Maratha sardars. They even attacked Mewar
    & in south India, plundered the shringeri math!!! How do we explain the
    fact that after centuries of instances of Muslim betrayal the Wodeyar’s managed
    to lose Mysore to Haider Ali, he was their commander; the Hindu holkars backed
    the dreadful Afghan pindaris; the Hindu rani of Bhopal lost her kingdom to
    Afghan adventurers bcoz she asked for their help; the Hindu Rajputs of Rampur
    lost their state to Afghan adventurers (the Nawabs of Rampur in UP); the
    combined armies of Hindu taluqdars in Oudh failed to dislodge the Nawabs of
    Lucknow, etc. etc. all this in the 18 – 19th century. Treachery, shortsightedness, senseless sentimentality (being chivalrous on the wrong occasions) etc. area apparently inbuilt into the Hindu DNA.

  • RC

    It means that Indians under the order of the Britishers were oppressing other Indians. It means that Indians could not have been subjugated without the active participation of some Indians in that subjugation.

    Indians obviously were subjugated with the use of other Indians, but it is mainly the fault of Indian culture mainly that of the “Caste” system. Caste system assigns everyone their “place” in the social hierarchy and most of the people accept their place in spite of the absolute unfairness of this “assignment”.

    Caste system will also make people more fatalistic. Waiting for the “next janam” to get a better station in this preordained hierarchy.

    This is the reason why the people accepted the rule of foreigners, mainly because of absence of culture that guaranteed fundamental equality.

    So, in my view the subjugation of India was not due to a few traitors but a system that is inherently unequal which made social mobility next to impossible.

    Oh, but I absolutely agree that Congress is an enemy of India.

  • http://twitter.com/snjy_rajguru संजय अ. राजगुरू

    Rightly Said “Congress is an enemy while their supporters are real traitor” Indian are failed to see real enemy of India. 64 years means three generation (The span of 20 years on an average called as one generation) It is hard to accept that congress made fool to Indian for 3 generation and still there are millions supporter of congress. those supporter will defiantly bring them back in fourth generation of Rahul G. The fault doesn’t lies with congress, It lies with us, The Indians.

  • GAli

    The actual father of South Asian independence was Adolph
    Hitler. WWII made UK so weak that it
    became impossible to rule its colonies.
    India was not the only country that gained independence, but other
    British colonies were give independence soon after.

  • prashant

    Hi Atanu.

    Recently, I noticed a series of videos on Youtube, which claim that Netaji actually died as a Baba in Faizabad. I might be really naive and uninformed when it comes to all this, but some of the videos seemed to have at least a bit of authenticity in them.

    In fact, one of the videos claims that even the Justice Mukherjee commission came to this conclusion (thought it was never made public).

    Search for “Netaji Faizabad” or “Netaji Gumnami” on Youtube. One such video is this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdlvatHFBQs

    What’s your take on this? You think these theories could be valid?

  • Allwyn Mascarenhas

    if Bose has come to power India would be as ruined or worst than it stands today. Here’s his speech

    As early as 1930 — in his inaugural speech as mayor of Calcutta — the fervent young Bose first expressed his support for a fusion of socialism and fascism:

    “… I would say we have here in this policy and program a synthesis of what modern Europe calls Socialism and Fascism. We have here the justice, the equality, the love, which is the basis of Socialism, and combined with that we have the efficiency and the discipline of Fascism as it stands in Europe today.”

    more at: http://sabhlokcity.com/2013/01/netaji-subhas-chandra-bose-was-an-extreme-fascist-socialistcommunist-no-role-model-for-modern-india/