Bose, Not Gandhi, Ended British Rule in India: Ambedkar
Declassified records, testimonies of those who had a ringside view of events coupled with sheer commonsense make it quite evident that Netaji dealt a body blow to the British Raj. For political reasons “The authorities in India will never acknowledge the paramount role of Netaji in forcing the colonial British to transfer power in 1947”. In nutshell, there was not much freedom “fight” going on in India when the Second World War started in 1939. While Bose saw in it the opportunity of a lifetime and he wanted the Congress to serve a 6 month ultimatum on the British to leave India, the party under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership would not do anything to increase pressure on the colonial rulers.
Ousted from the Congress, Bose left India and became the head of the Indian National Army (INA). Many in India still scoff at the INA, contrasting it with the professional, well-trained, much bigger Indian Army, ignoring the odds Bose had overcome to organise it in such a short time.
A most logical explanation was given by Babasaheb Ambedkar. In a no-holds-barred interview with BBC’s Francis Watson in February 1955, Babasaheb Ambedkar elucidated the reason why the British left India in 1947. “I don’t know how Mr Attlee suddenly agreed to give India Independence,” wondered Ambedkar, recalling then British prime minister’s decision to agree to the transfer of power in 1947. “That is a secret that he will disclose in his autobiography. None expected that he would do that,” he added. Babasaheb Ambedkar would not have been surprised with Attlee’s admission, for he had foreseen it. He told the BBC in 1955 that from his “own analysis” he had concluded that “two things led the Labour party to take this decision” (to free India), the national army that was raised by Subhas Chandra Bose. And, the British had been ruling the country in the firm belief that whatever may happen in the country or whatever the politicians do, they will never be able to change the loyalty of soldiers. That was one prop on which they were carrying on the administration. And that was completely dashed to pieces. They found that soldiers could be seduced to form a party — a battalion to blow off the British.”
In October 1956, two months before Ambedkar passed away, Clement Richard Attlee disclosed in a confidential private talk that very secret.
As per number of British MPs who met Clement Attlee in February 1946. “There are two alternative ways of meeting this common desire (a) that we should arrange to get out, (b) that we should wait to be driven out. In regard to (b), the loyalty of the Indian Army is open to question; the INA have become national heroes…”
Attlee told Bengal governor, Netaji, not Gandhi, got India freedom
Did India win Independence because of the non-violent movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru or was it the impact of Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army that made the British panic and leave India? In these conversations the then British Prime Minister apparently said that the role played by Netaji's army was paramount in India being granted independence, while the role played by the non-violent movement was dismissed as minimal.
In 1956, Clement Attlee had come to India and stayed in Kolkata as a guest of the then governor. Clement Richard Attlee was the man, who as leader of the Labour Party and British Prime Minister between 1945 and 1951, signed off on the decision to grant Independence to India.
PB Chakraborthy was at that time the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court and was also serving as the acting Governor of West Bengal. He wrote a letter to the publisher of RC Majumdar's book, A History of Bengal. In this letter, the Chief Justice wrote, "When I was acting Governor, Lord Attlee, who had given us independence by withdrawing British rule from India, spent two days in the Governor's palace at Calcutta during his tour of India. At that time I had a prolonged discussion with him regarding the real factors that had led the British to quit India." My direct question to Attlee was that since Gandhi's Quit India movement had tapered off quite some time ago and in 1947 no such new compelling situation had arisen that would necessitate a hasty British departure, why did they had to leave?"
"In his reply Attlee cited several reasons, the principal among them being the erosion of loyalty to the British crown among the Indian army and Navy personnel as a result of the military activities of Netaji," Justice Chakraborthy says.
Indians serving in the British armed forces were inflamed by the Red Fort Trials. In February 1946, almost 20,000 sailors of the Royal Indian Navy serving on 78 ships mutinied against the Empire. They went around Mumbai with portraits of Netaji and forced the British to shout Jai Hind and other INA slogans. The rebels brought down the Union Jack on their ships and refused to obey their British masters. This mutiny was followed by similar rebellions in the Royal Indian Air Force and also in the British Indian Army units in Jabalpur. The British were terrified. After the Second World War, 2.5 million Indian soldiers were being de-commissioned from the British Army.
Military intelligence reports in 1946 indicated that the Indian soldiers were inflamed and could not be relied upon to obey their British officers. There were only 40,000 British troops in India at the time. Most were eager to go home and in no mood to fight the 2.5 million battle hardened Indian soldiers who were being demobilised. It is under these circumstances that the British decided to grant independence to India.
Why did the British Empire decline? During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Britain had dominion over so many portions of the Earth it was said, famously, that “the sun never set on the British Empire.” Since the end of World War II, however, that sun has been steadily dipping toward the horizon.
The empire changed throughout its history. The First and Second World Wars left Britain weakened and less interested in its empire. The downsizing process has been long and hard. At its most extensive, the British Empire comprised 57 colonies, dominions, territories or protectorates from Australia, Canada and India to Fiji, Western Samoa and Tonga. From London, the British ruled about 20 % of world’s population and governed nearly 25 % of the world’s land mass. The spread of British influence, including the English language, gave birth to the United States, the world’s only superpower; the world’s largest democracy in India; and, perhaps inadvertently, disseminated British concepts of freedom, democracy and common law around the globe. On the negative side, Britain once corrupted an entire nation, China, with opium purely to extract drug revenues, and its haughty, racist dominance of subjected peoples left generations of rage in its wake in many countries.
END OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR
Before the war, Britain maintained colonies all over the world, which provided valuable raw materials, manpower and strategic bases. By 1945, however, colonies were an expensive liability for Clement Attlee's newly elected Labour government. The United States' rising global influence and its opposition to imperialism made colonialism less politically viable, while Japan's wartime victories had destroyed Britain's imperial prestige.
After the Second World War, the disintegration of Britain's empire transformed global politics.
In 1947 India, having contributed enormously to Britain's war effort, became independent.
Less than a year later, communist guerrillas launched a violent campaign aimed at forcing Britain from Malaya. Thousands were killed, but an effective political and military response prevented a Communist take-over. Malaya became an independent democracy on 31 August 1957.
In the Middle East, Britain hurriedly abandoned Palestine in 1948. Ghana became Britain's first African colony to reach independence in 1957. By 1967 more than 20 British territories were independent.
The Cold War added further complexities, as Britain attempted to insulate former colonies from the influence of the Soviet Union.
DECOLONISATION IN SOUTH EAST AND SOUTH ASIA, 1945-1948
The defeat of the British, Indian and Australian armies in Malaya (Malaysia) and Singapore by the Imperial Japanese Army in February 1942 foreshadowed the eventual end of the British Empire in the region. The subsequent loss of prestige for the empire permeated across Asia, as the defeat’s ramifications perceivably included the eventual end of the Indian Army as the protector of British rule in South East and South Asia. At the end of the war, all forces – including those who had co-operated with the British Empire, those who chose non-co-operation (such as Mohandas K. Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and other Congress Party leaders) and those who openly opposed the regime (such as the Indian National Army (INA)) – all combined in ending the British rule (Raj) in India. Thus India’s war effort also helped pave the way for independence, which was almost inevitable after the 1935 Government of India Act that effectively instituted self-government at provincial level and majority representation in central government. Furthermore, a process of ‘Indianization’ in the civil service and the military meant that by 1945, in the army for example, there were over 15,000 Indian officers.
The British government decreed in 1946 that British Army units could only be deployed in India in ‘aid to civil power’ if British lives were at risk. At the same time, the Indian Army was undergoing demobilisation and nationalisation as well as the colossal task of dividing the army between the new states of Pakistan and India, whilst simultaneously trying to curtail the spreading violence. Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced on 20 February 1947 that the British would transfer power no later than June 1948.
Some uncomfortable facts
· Of the 54 Commonwealth countries, all got independence from the British from 1931 onwards without their own “Gandhi-Nehru” and without Partition of the nation.
· Did India actually gain independence or was it a transfer of power agreement between the British and their favoured elite sepoy (Nehru). Bye the way, Congress party was actually started by Allen Hume an Ex Imperial Civil Service officer, to pacify the rage & revolt of Indian populace.
· At any given point in time not more than 2 lakhs Indians participated in any activities of freedom struggle. The 500 and odd native kingdoms would not have joined it. War weary Britain had to give up and leave.
· In fact, after the Second World War (WW II) British didn’t had enough revenue to run these colonies and also establishment of United Nation in 1945 also discouraged Imperialism. World War II broke the supremacy of Britain. That is the achievement of Hitler.
· Mahatma Gandhi & Congress played very little role in India's independence to what our history books have been saying. Independence wasn't due to Gandhi Nehru, but it was impact of world wars as British empires had drained out.
Although Victory over Japan Day was celebrated internationally on 15 August 1945, it is clear that the conflict of the Second World War did not come to end on this day, particularly across Asia. There was a sense of inevitability of decolonisation at the end of the war; Britain was exhausted by it and the empire had lost much of its remaining legitimacy in South and South East Asia. Furthermore and crucially, the nationalist support had increased dramatically across the region throughout this period.
Even with the impending independence of India and Pakistan, the Indian Army was still considered by the British government and Mountbatten as the strategic reserve in South East Asia. Only four of the thirty battalions were British. Indian Army troops were also deployed as occupation forces in Japan, Burma, Hong Kong, Siam (Thailand), Borneo and Malaya. Nevertheless, in the three years after the end of the Second World War, India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon all achieved independence from the British Empire, with Malaya and Singapore (as an independent republic) to follow later in 1957 and 1965 respectively.