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>>

Subhas Chandra Bose in Soviet and Russian historiography

 

Dmitry is a bibliographer at the Science Library of Tomsk State University (Russia). He graduated from the Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University in 2011 where his research topic was "Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence in culture of modern India".

 

History of the Indian freedom movement has always attracted the attention of researchers in Russia. The first translations of Indian leaders' books appeared in the 1920s [1], and the first book on Mahatma Gandhi was written in 1931 [2]. However, not all aspects of the national movement in India were adequately covered by scholars. Thus, the life of Subhas Chandra Bose was "terra incognita" for Soviet historiography for a long time. This is primarily due to the fact that the focus of Soviet researchers was the study of labor movement, while the Indian National Congress in their opinion was the body which defended the interests of the national bourgeoisie. Secondly, as the USSR made a huge contribution to the Allied victory in World War II, Soviet historians had very negative attitude to every person who collaborated with the Axis powers[3]. They had no sympathy with Bose's theory of synthesis of fascism and communism. There was general opinion that the policy of Left Wingleaders served to"disorientation and disorganization of mass revolutionary struggle" and "help the Congress to negotiate with British imperialism"[4] A. M. Dyakov called Bose "a political adventurer"[5] and this viewpoint was widespread in Soviet science for many years.

Naturally, such an attitude towards Bose ultimately led to distortion and simplification of his role in the Indian freedom movement. Even in the 1980s, when Bose finally received greater attention of Soviet historians, their works were not free from errors and inaccuracies. Thus, P. V. Kutsobin argued that Bose's political position in the late 1930s was close to that of the Communist Party of India[6], although it is known that Bose on many issues was not in agreement with the communists. However, the 1980s reflected a more sympathetic attitude in Soviet historiography of 1980s towards Bose. He came to be regarded as a leader who played a prominent role in the Left Wing of the Congress party and the national movement. For example, A. V. Gorev[7] wrote that Bose was "the uncompromising fighter against British colonialism" and drew special attention to the differences between Gandhi and Bose in the late 1930s. Gorev also gave an estimate of Bose’s activity in the Left Wing of the Congress. Opinion on Bose's collaboration with Germany and Japan also changed to some extent. Thus, Gorev claimed this was due to political miscalculation: "He (Bose) naively believed that military opponents of England will bring freedom from foreign yoke to India on their bayonets".V. K. Poddubny also wrote: "When he could not find Gandhi's support for the idea of mass satyagraha in war conditions, Bose left his homeland to find allies in the camp of Axis powers. He assumed to create with foreign support basis for All-India non-violent movement in North-West Province. Although he expected to use armed forces on the first stage of the struggle, the main part of his program was just satyagraha. Bose was not supported by the USSR and settled in Berlin, where there was a center of the Indian revolutionary emigration. Fascist government supported him. Headed... the movement, the Indian patriot tried to create armed forces " Azad Hind ", and to keep relations on an equal footing with the German government. This he failed. Especially because Bose had no anti-Sovietism and pro-fascist sentiments."[8]

An important role in researches of Bose's life played the articles of A.V. Raikov about war-time India[9]. He covered the history of Indian National Army, and the result of his fifteen-year work is book "The most dangerous hour of India", which was published in 1999[10].

Thus, we see that Soviet historiography passed a difficult way from completely ignoring the role of Bose in the history of India to a softening of attitude towards him. However, there were no published translations of Bose's writings or insightful researchon his life and work. The first article about his social and political views was written only in the late 1980s[11]. This article based on extensive factual material and the author tried to give an objective analysis of Bose's actions, in particular, during the World War II. The author noted that Bose's political position was eclectic, and Bose-Gandhi differences in the fateful moments of strugggle for freedom gave to the national movement more decisive character. Devyatkina concludes that "Bose objectively expressed the growing interests of the Indian bourgeoisie, although his social views were generally of petty-bourgeois character"[12].

The collapse of the USSR brought new development to the historiography of the Indian national movement, shifting the areas of interest to the last years of Bose's life, the mystery regarding his disappearance, and about his engagement with British or Soviet military intelligence[13]. The spectrum of problems covered by the researchers became wider. The late 1990s saw dissertations debates and evaluations concerning Bose appear in the academia.O. Yu. Kurnykin[14] wrote that "social and political views of Bose are original, and his practical activity that was a surprising combination of impulsivity and pragmatism, sobriety of assessments and unreality of political objectives, purposefulness and some indiscriminate choice of political partners, not always has been understood even by his closest associates and allies from the Left Wing"[15], while R. N. Koltsov[16] claimed that Bose "was by nature was not... romantic, but... politician pragmatist"[17]. There is some kind of a reassessment of Bose's activity during World War II — Koltsov notes that "the ideas of Bose and INA have played an important role in the consolidation of the Indian freedom movement in the early postwar months"[18], but "he was alien to political extremism"[19]. Koltsov also noted the proximity of Bose's views to the views of European social democracy[20]. In general, opinion dominates in modern Russian historiography that Subhas Chandra Bose rightly occupies a prominent place of honor in the history of the Indian national movement [21].

Nowadays, when all the main problems are covered by historiography in some extent, one can see deeper studying of several concrete questions. Students of Raikov and Kurnykin continued researches of the teachers and there is a notable progress in studying of the Swarajist Party[22] and war-time India[23,24,25]. Bose's disappearance is still interesting for researchers too, because it is in close connection with Russia, but there is still no clear answer[26]. Oleg Kurnykin continued his researches with book "Paradoxes of political biography of S.C. Bose" (unfortunately, it has published in limited edition)[27]. He also made an attempt of comparison Mahatma Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose, and concluded: "In fact, Gandhi and Bose, so different and even contradictory figures on the political scene of India, mutually reinforcing. If Gandhi was perceived by his countrymen primarily as a spiritual and moral authority, Mahatma, then Bose, who called the Indians to arms for a decisive modernization of the country, to transform it into a strong industrial and military power, was a kind of a different hypostasis of Indian leader — political and military leader, commander, Netaji."[28]

Thus, evaluation of Netaji's life and work in Soviet and Russian historiography has repeatedly been revised, and the necessity for the objective research of this problem still exists. However, the first steps have been made, and we can hope that this is just the beginning.

References

1. РойМ.Н. Новая Индия. - М., 1923 (Roy M.N. India in transition. - Moscow, 1923)
2. Рославлев У. Гандизм. - М., 1931 (Roslavlev U. Gandhism. - Moscow, 1931)
3. Антонова К.А., Бонгард-Левин Г.М., Котовский Г.Г. История Индии (краткий очерк). - М., 1973 (Antonova K.A., Bongard-Levin G.M., Kotovsky G.G. The history of India (a brief sketch). - Moscow, 1973)
4. ПрограммныедокументыкоммунистическихпартийВостока. - М., 1934. - С. 103(Program documents of the Communist parties of the East. - Moscow, 1934. - p. 103)
5. Дьяков А. М. Индия во время и после Второй мировой войны. - М., 1952 (Dyakov A.M. India during World War II and after. - Moscow, 1952)
6. #1050;уцобин П.В. Аджой Гхош и коммунистическое движение в Индии. - М., 1985 (Kutsobin P.V. Ajoy Ghosh and communist movement in India. - Moscow, 1985)
7. Горев А.В. Махатма Ганди . - М., 1984 (Gorev A.V. Mahatma Gandhi. - Moscow, 1984)
8. Поддубный В.К. Вопросы внешней политики и международных отношений в идеологии и деятельности Индийского национального конгресса 1917-1947 гг. - М., 1991 (Poddubny V.K. Issues of foreign policy and international relations in the ideology and activities of the Indian National Congress, 1917-1947. - Moscow, 1991)
9. Райков А.В. Индийскаяобщина в Юго-ВосточнойАзии в борьбезасвободуродины. К историисозданияИндийскойнациональнойармии. // Индия. 1984. Ежегодник. - М., 1986 (Raikov A.V. Indian Community in Southeast Asia in the struggle for freedom of the motherland. To the history of the Indian National Army. / / India. 1984. Yearbook. - Moscow, 1986) Райков А. В. Индия в планахТокио и Берлина. // Азия и Африкасегодня. 1995.№4 (Raikov A.V. India in plans of Tokyo and Berlin // Asia and Africa today. 1995. ?4)
10. Райков А.В. Опаснейший час Индии. - Липецк, 1999 (Raikov A.V. The most dangerous hour of India. - Lipetsk, 1999)
11. Девяткина Т. Ф. Социально-политические взгляды С. Ч. Боса // Общественная мысль Индии: прошлое и настоящее. - М., 1989. - С. 38-59 (Devyatkina T.F. Social and political views of S.C. Bose; in: Social thought in India, past and present. - Moscow, 1989. - p. 38-59)
12. Ibid., p. 46
13. Виноградов А. Жизнь и смерть нетаджи Боса // Эхо планеты. 1992. № 22 (Vinogradov A. Life and death of Netaji Bose; in: Echo of the planet. 1992. № 22)
14. Курныкин О. Ю. С.Ч. Бос и индийское национально-освободительное движение (20-30 гг. XX в.) - Томск, 1998 (KurnykinO.Yu. S.C. Bose and Indian national movement in 1920-1930s. - Tomsk, 1998)
15. Ibid., p. 2
16. Кольцов Р. Н. С. Ч. Бос - идеолог и лидер индийского национально-освободительного движения: политические взгляды и деятельность (1921-1945). - Владимир, 2002 (Koltsov R.N. S.C. Bose as ideologist and leader of Indian national movement: political views and activity (1921-1945) – Vladimir, 2002)
17. Ibid., p. 176
18. Ibid., p. 179
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid, p. 3
21. Курныкин О. Ю. С.Ч. Бос и индийскоенационально-освободительноедвижение, c. 1 (KurnykinO.Yu. S.C. Bose and Indian national movement...)
22. Бочкарева И.Б. Свараджистская партия и ее роль в становлении парламентских институтов в Индии (1920-е гг.) - Барнаул, 2004 (Bochkareva I.B. The Swarajist Party and its role in the development of parliamentary institutions in India (1920s) – Barnaul, 2004)
23. Черешнева Л.А. Проблема независимости и раздела колониальной Индии (1939-1947 гг.) - Липецк, 2009 (Chereshneva L.A. The problem of independence and partition of colonial India (1939-1947) – Lipetsk, 2009)
24. Ибрагимова З.Х. Индия в планах Германии и Японии в годы Второй мировой войны. - М., 2003 (Ibragimova Z.H. India in plans of Germany and Japan during World War II. - Moscow, 2003)
25. Мостяев Ю.Н. Вклад Индии в общую победу союзников над странами <<оси>> в годы Второй мировой войны. - Рязань, 2012 (MostyaevYu.N. India's contribution to the victory of the Allies over the countries of the "Axis" in World War II. - Ryazan', 2012)
26. Скосырев В. Авиакатастрофа или мистификация? // Независимая газета. 2005. 19 июля. (Skosyrev V. Plane crash or mystification? // Independent Newspaper. 2005. 19 July)
27. Курныкин О.Ю. Парадоксы политической биографии С.Ч. Боса. - М., 2000 (KurnykinO.Yu. Paradoxes of political biography of S.C. Bose. - Moscow, 2000)
28. Курныкин О.Ю. М.К. Ганди и С.Ч. Бос: образы индийских политических лидеров (KurnykinO.Yu. M.K. Gandhi and S.C. Bose: images of Indian political leaders. 2009. 13 October)

Transliteration (Transcription)

1. Roy M.N. Novaya Indiya. - M., 1923 (Roy M.N. India in transition. - Moscow, 1923)
2. Roslavlev U. Gandhism. - M., 1931 (Roslavlev U. Gandhism. - Moscow, 1931)
3. Antonova K.A., Bongard-Levin G.M., Kotovsky G.G. IstoriyaIndii (kratkyocherk) (Antonova K.A., Bongard-Levin G.M., Kotovsky G.G. The history of India (a brief sketch). - Moscow, 1973)
4. ProgrammnyedokumentykommunisticheskihpartiiVostoka(Program documents of the Communist parties of the East. - Moscow, 1934)
5. Dyakov A.M. IndiyavovremyaiposleVtoroimirovoivoiny. - M., 1952 (Dyakov A.M. India during World War II and after. - Moscow, 1952)
6. Kutsobin P.V. Adzhoi Ghosh I kommunisticheskoedvizhenie v Indii. - M., 1985 (Kutsobin P.V. Ajoy Ghosh and communist movement in India. - Moscow, 1985)
7. Gorev A.V. Mahatma Gandhi. - M., 1984 (Gorev A.V. Mahatma Gandhi. - Moscow, 1984)
8. Poddubny V.K. Voprosyvneshneipolitikiimezhdunarodnyhotnoshenii v ideologiiIdeyatel'nostiIndiiskogonatsional'nogokongressa, 1917-1947 (Poddubny V.K. Issues of foreign policy and international relations in the ideology and activities of the Indian National Congress, 1917-1947. - Moscow, 1991)
9. Raikov A.V. Indiiskayaobshchinav Yugo-VostochnoiAzii v bor'bezasvobodurodiny. K istoriisozdaniyaIndiiskoinatsional'noiarmii // Indiya. 1984. Ezhegodnik. - M., 1986 (Raikov A.V. Indian Community in Southeast Asia in the struggle for freedom of the motherland. To the history of the Indian National Army. / / India. 1984. Yearbook. - Moscow, 1986)
10. Raikov A.V. Indiya v planahTokioiBerlina // AziyaiAfrikasegodnya. 1995. ?5 (Raikov A.V. India in plans of Tokyo and Berlin // Asia and Africa today. 1995. ?4)
11. Raikov A.V. OpasneishiichasIndii. - Lipetsk, 1999 (Raikov A.V. The most dangerous hour of India. - Lipetsk, 1999)
12. Devyatkina T.F. Sotsial'no-politicheskievzglyady S. Ch. Bosa // Obshchestvennayamysl' Indii: proshloeinastoyashchee. - ?., 1989. (Devyatkina T.F. Social and political views of S.C. Bose; in: Social thought in India, past and present. - Moscow, 1989. - p. 38-59)
13. Vinogradov A. Zhizn' ismert' netadzhiBosa // Ehoplanety. 1992. ? 22(Vinogradov A. Life and death of Netaji Bose; in: Echo of the planet. 1992. ? 22)
14. KurnykinO.Yu. S. Ch. Bosiindiiskoenatsional'no-osvoboditel'noedvizhenie(20-30 gg. XX v.) (KurnykinO.Yu. S.C. Bose and Indian national movement in 1920-1930s. - Tomsk, 1998)
15. Koltsov R.N. S.Ch. Bos – ideologiliderindiiskogonatsional'no-osvoboditel'nogodvizheniya: politicheskievzglyady I deyatel'nost'. - Vladimir, 2002 (Koltsov R.N. S.C. Bose as ideologist and leader of Indian national movement: political views and activity (1921-1945) – Vladimir, 2002)
16. Bochkareva I.B. Svaradzhistskayapartiyaieerol' v stanovleniiparlamentskihinstitutov v Indii. - Barnaul, 2004 (Bochkareva I.B. The Swarajist Party and its role in the development of parliamentary institutions in India (1920s) – Barnaul, 2004)
17. Chereshneva L.A. Problemanezavisimostiirazdelakolonial'noiIndii (1939-1947) (Chereshneva L.A. The problem of independence and partition of colonial India (1939-1947) – Lipetsk, 2009)
18. Ibragimova Z.H. Indiya v planahGermaniiiYaponii v godyVtoroimirovoivoiny. - M., 2003 (Ibragimova Z.H. India in plans of Germany and Japan during World War II. - Moscow, 2003)
19. MostyaevYu.N. VkladIndii v obshchuyupobedusoyuznikovnadstranami “osi” v godyVtoroimirovoivoiny. - Ryazan', 2012 (MostyaevYu.N. India's contribution to the victory of the Allies over the countries of the "Axis" in World War II. - Ryazan', 2012)
20. Skosyrev V. Aviakatastrofailimistifikatsiya? // Nezavisimayagazeta. 2005. 19 iyulya(Skosyrev V. Plane crash or mystification? // Independent Newspaper. 2005. 19 July)
21. KurnykinO.Yu. Paradoksypoliticheskoibiografii S.Ch. Bosa – M., 2000 (KurnykinO.Yu.Paradoxes of political biography of S.C. Bose. - Moscow, 2000)
22. KurnykinO.Yu. M.K.Gandhii S.Ch. Bos: obrazyindiiskihpoliticheskihliderov. 2009. 13 oktyabrya. (KurnykinO.Yu. M.K. Gandhi and S.C. Bose: images of Indian political leaders. 2009. 13 October)