Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

Broadcast by Singapore Radio

Addressing a mass meeting of Indian women convened by the Women's Section of the Indian Independence League held in Singapore on July 12, 1943, Netaji Bose said:

"Sisters!

"You all know, as well as I do, the part our countrymen at home have played in the Freedom Movement, especially during the last twenty-two years, since the year 1921, when the Congress was reborn under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. It is not only in connection with the Congress movement of Civil Disobedience, but also in connection with the secret revolutionary movement, that our sisters have played a noble part. In fact, it will be no exaggeration to say that there is no sphere of public activity, there is no department of national endeavour, in which Indian women have not gladly and bravely shared, along with our men, the burden of our national struggle. Whether it is touring from village to village without food and drink, whether it is lecturing at one meeting after another, whether it is carrying the Freedom-message from door to door, whether it is running election campaigns or whether it is leading processions along public streets in defiance of official orders and in spite of lathi charges by the inhuman British Police, or whether it is facing bravely imprisonment and persecution, insult and humiliation, nowhere have our women been found wanting. Our brave sisters have also played a prominent part in the secret revolutionary movement. They have shown that when the need arises they could, like their brothers, shoot very well. If today I express my fullest confidence in you, it is because I know that our women are capable of, and therefore, I say without the slightest exaggeration there is no suffering which our sisters are not capable of enduring.

History teaches us that every empire has its fall just as it has its rise. And the time has come for the British Empire to disappear from the face of the world. We see with our own eyes how that empire has disappeared from this part of the world. It shall, I feel absolutely certain, disappear from another part of the world, from India as well.

If there is anyone either here or elsewhere who thinks that it is an unworthy act to shoulder a rifle, I would ask her to turn to the pages of history. What have our brave women done in the past? What did the brave Rani of Jhansi do in the Revolution of 1857, India's First War of Independence? It was this queen who, with drawn sword on horse-back, led her men to battle. Through our ill-luck she fell, she jailed, and India failed. But, we have to continue and complete the work which the great Rani undertook in 1857.

Therefore, in the last and final War of Independence we want not one Rani of Jhansi, but thousands and thousands of Ranis of Jhansi. It is not the number of rifles you may carry or the number of shots you may fire which is important. Equally important is the moral effect of your brave example."