Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was a fool. He was one of the greatest morons that India has ever seen.
He was born to a privileged family, and had the golden opportunity to lead a life of comfort and pleasure. He successfully qualified in the Indian Civil Service Exam or ICS (in fact he stood 4th), and got selected for the prestigious ICS, which was one of the top career options of the meritorious youths of that day India. He could have easily went for a life of honour, glamour and power, rubbing shoulders with the top echelons of the British Indian bureaucracy and other elites of the society.
But what the hell did he do? He declined to join the service, and rather joined the freedom movement. Well, even that would have been a great choice, if he decided to join the followers of Gandhi, who used to run their freedom movement by holding agitations and protests in the streets, courting arrests, spending few months behind bars, and resuming agitations and mass protests after being freed. If Netaji joined those youths of Congress (actually he joined, but later quit), then he would have got a good reward after Independence. First, he would have got the honour of a freedom fighter. Secondly he would have been respected as a loyal follower of Gandhi (instead of being despised by loyal Gandhians for questioning the effectiveness of Gandhi's peaceful methods). Finally, most importantly, he would have become a Minister in Nehru's Cabinet after India won freedom. And today, on 23rd January, India would be celebrating his Birth Anniversary with at least some respect, like Corporate Houses giving advertisements paying homage to him, small programmes on TV, etc.
But what did he do? Instead of being a "freedom fighter", he chose to become a "revolutionary". Instead of going for a "peaceful" protest sans violence, he decided to hit back at the British Lion through an "eye for an eye" method, as he felt that was the only language that the proud Colonial masters would understand.
While Gandhian freedom fighters could manage to run their freedom fight from the soil of India itself, Netaji, a revolutionary, had to leave his dear motherland for distant shores. He traveled a lot, several times by risking his life, developed a well-equipped army named Indian National Army or INA (though INA was originally was the brainchild of Rashbehari Bose), and arranged for a all-out military attack against the British. While the development of INA testified his organizational capability, Netaji's diplomatic acumen was displayed by the way he convinced the Nazi Germany and Japan to support India's fight for freedom. He approached Nazi Germany, as he perceived them not merely as a Fascist power, but as an enemy of the UK who could be used in the fight against the common enemy. By approaching Hitler he did not show his endorsement for Hitler's Fascist policies. Rather, it was just a strategic move that displayed Netaji's practical sense and deep political insight. (After all, how many people know that in his first meeting with Hitler he had strongly objected to the anti-India remarks made by the Nazi dictator in his autobiography Mein Kampf?)
Yes, Netaji did a lot for India. It might be so that his endeavour failed to deliver desired results. And it might be so that his plans and strategies were not always flawless. But nobody can deny his commitment and dedication, and the valour and grit with which he tried to fulfill his mission.
But what has he got?
Throughout his life he worked like anything, and then lost his life under ultra-mysterious circumstances. In return all that he has got is sheer ignorance, and even taunting from staunch Gandhi loyalists. My good friend Rahul Bajpai (a die hard fan of Nehru and Gandhi) feels that Netaji's dream of liberating India with the help of German and Japanese armies was "preposterous". He is certainly entitled to his view. But strangely he never finds Nehru's idea of conducting a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir (to find which country Kashmiris want to join) to be preposterous. And he does not find it "preposterous" when somebody says that Gandhi was the only person who drove Britishers out of this land.
Today Netaji's Birth Anniversary does not receive even a fraction of the attention that is attributed to the Birth Anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi. There is no mention of the event in the media (newspaper and TV). And there is only a 2 page mention of his name and works in the school text books. The memory of Netaji has virtually been "banished" from the land that he fought for - India.
So this is all that he got after espousing the life of a revolutionary, that too by ignoring a life of utmost pleasure and comfort. So is it too much to say that he was a fool?
Indians love to read the biographies of revolutionaries from far away lands. But how comfortably they forget the indigenous revolutionaries (like Netaji and Bhagat Singh) who fought for their own land. Netaji, you chose to become a revolutionary for this land? Sorry to say, but you were one of the greatest fools that this world has even seen.