The Parallel Movement 

August 15, 1947: a day marked in the hearts of every Indian. After 300+ years of British rule, Gandhi paved the way for Indian independence. His nonviolent movement for independence had made  happen what seemed to be impossible for a long time. The success, today reflected in many books, movies and paintings, shows the importance and legacy of the father of the nation’s ‘ahimsa’ movement. However, fewer people are aware that in India, at that time, a parallel movement occurred. Led by Subhas Chandra Bose, this movement was driven by the same goal, but deployed different tactics. What follows is a very brief historical overview of this parallel movement, with the intention to illustrate how a social movement did not deliver the required outcome due to the deployment of violent tactics. 

Considering the length and the multifaceted nature of Indian history, the starting point here is the  establishment of the Indian National Congress (INC); a committee through which Indians could voice their interests. It was meant as place for dialogue, not to discuss independence. However, this turned  in the early 20th century, when the demands became more radical and advocacy in favour of Indian  independence started, due to constant opposition of the British government. From 1920 to 1934  Gandhi led the INC. He favoured a nonviolent civil disobedience approach. These ‘satyagraha’, took  various forms; boycotts, protest marches and fasting among others. He gained a lot of support, also  from Subhas Chandra Bose, who became Gandhi’s close associate (Pandey, 2023). However, soon  after meeting with Gandhi, it became clear that their envisioned road to India’s independence was widely different (Gordon, 2006). Contrary to Gandhi, Bose found all means acceptable to gain independence from the colonialists (Gordon, 2006; Jaiswal, 2014). This caused a rift in the Indian freedom movement between on the one hand the moderates led by Gandhi, and the so-called extremists led by Bose (Nandy, 2022).  

Extremism has arguably always been a part of the Indian freedom struggle, such as the sepoy mutiny  of 1857 or the symbolic bombing of the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi by Bhagat Singh and his  associates. However, these were arguably single pockets of uprisings, which changed with the arrival  of Bose. Born into a wealthy, prominent family, Bose pursued an Anglocentric education. He joined the freedom movement in 1921 and fulfilled many different positions over the years, like chief  executive officer of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, or later president of the Bengal Congress. In  1939 Bose became the leader of the INC, promoting self-governance through the use of force against  the British. He was outmanoeuvred by Gandhi due to ideological differences (Jaiswal, 2014) and founded the Forward Bloc in response to this. The Forward Bloc was a fraction within the INC, whose  aim was to unite all the anti-British forces in India (Pandey, 2023). Bose wanted to establish an Indian  National Army (INA), as a, arguably, type of collective action, to be able to free India from its  colonialists. After being released from prison, Bose fled to Europe where he tried to form wartime  alliances with Nazi-Germany and Imperial Japan. Nazi-Germany was too busy in Europe, but Japan  showed interest. When Bose returned to India in 1943, he assumed leadership of the Indian  Independence Movement. On March 18, 1944, Japanese troops stepped foot on Indian soil, but were defeated and forced to retreat, ending Bose’s parallel movement.  

Although the Indian Independence movement was successful, it was achieved through Gandhi’s nonviolent civil disobedience tactics and not by Bose’s deployment of an army. This provides a clear  example in history that, in spite of the same goals and same perseverance, violent tactics resulted in  an unsuccessful outcome. Although Bose did not achieve the intended goal, he managed to capture  the imagination of many people and is therefore still remembered and fondly known as India’s ‘Netaji’ (leader said in a respectful way). 

Literature list 

Gordon, L. A. (2006). Legend and Legacy: Subhas Chandra Bose. India International Centre  Quarterly, 33(1), 103–112. 

Jaiswal, A. (2014). Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle for Independence’. International  Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention, 3(6), 31-34. 

Nandy, M. (2022). Focus 80 – Facts versus Falsehoods: Decoding the Gandhi-Bose  Relationship. SADF. 10.48251/SADF.ISSN.2406-5633.F80 

Pandey, R. (2023, January 23). Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Biography, Family, Education,  Death. The Times of India. subhash-chandra-bose-biography-family-education-death/articleshow/97240445.cms 

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2000, January 12). Subhas Chandra Bose |  Biography & Facts. Encyclopedia Britannica.

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