Rashbehari Bose

Revolutionary leader Rashbehari Bose (1886–1945) was one of the key organisers of the Ghadar conspiracy. Following the failed attempt to instigate an uprising against the British in 1915, he escaped to Japan, to Nakamuraya, an area of Tokyo near Shinjuku. It took him over twenty years, but with relentless perseverance, he kept true to the dream of Indian independence.

Participating actively the Indian freedom struggle abroad, Bose convened a conference in Tokyo on March 28-30, 1942, which decided to establish the Indian Independence League. At the conference he moved a motion to raise an army for Indian liberation. At the second conference of the League in Bangkok on June 22, 1942, a resolution was adopted to invite Subhas Chandra Bose to join the League and take its command as its president. The organisational structure built up by Rashbehari Bose enabled Subhash Chandra Bose to build the Indian National Army (also called 'Azad Hind Fauj').

Before his death in 1945, the Japanese Government honoured him with the 'Second Order of the Merit of the Rising Sun'. (See Wikipedia for more details.)

Bose's story has now been written, first in Japanese by Nakajima Takeshi, a graduate of the Osaka University of Foreign Studies, and a PhD from Kyoto University. Nakajima has also authored Hindu Nationalism and is currently associate professor at the Hokkaido University Public Policy School. The book has been translated from Japanese to English by Prem Motwani of the JNU as Bose of Nakamuraya: An Indian Revolutionary in Japan, and is published by Bibliophile South Asia, New Delhi.

"Rash Bihari Bose (1886-1945) was a revolutionary leader against the British in India and was one of the key organizers of the bomb attack on Lord Hardinge and the Gadar Conspiracy at Lahore. He fled to Japan to avoid a certain death sentence and spent the latter half of his life there. He became close to the right wing nationalists in Japan and was intrumental in almost persuading the Japanese authorities to support the Indian freedom struggle. He did the spadework for the creation of the Indian National Army (INA) before passing the baton on to Subhash Chandra Bose towards the end of his life.

While the post-war generation of Japanese may not know of Rash Bihari Bose, he was a well-known figure in Japan in the years before the Second World War, where he was active trying to secure foreign help for Asia's liberation from the clutches of imperialist powers, and a regular writer on Indian affairs in Japanese newspapers and magazines of the time.

Nakamuraya in Shinjuku, Tokyo, famous for its Indian curry, was the place where Rash Bihari was provided shelter for over three months by his Japanese well-wishers, defying the deportation order against him by the Japanese government. Very few people are aware that Rash Bihari Bose was instrumental in introducing authentic Indian curry to the Japanese.

Pre-war Japan has enamoured researchers the world over for obvious reasons. However, the Japanese language has been the stumbling block as very little literature, especially written by the Japanese themselves, is available in English on this era. It is obvious from this book too. Besides presenting a nail-biting account of Rash Bihari's travails, torn betwen his anti-colonialist stance and his allegiance to the Japanese Asianists for saving his life, which has been totally unknown till date, it provides rare insight into Japan's expansionism in Asia viewed from the Japanese angle."

In our Biography section, hardcover, 323 pages. Rs 700. ISBN: 9788185002989.

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