BY Harsimran Kaur ON Sept 13 , 2022 IN BOOK REVIEW, HIS MAJESTY’S OPPONENT BY SUGATA BOSE-NON-FICTION
The tumultuous winds propel the crafty granules of rage to shake the enormity of existence. At the far end, a flame piously exuding its enigmatic charm refuses to flicker. Instead, it sentiently perpetrates its incandescence of impassioned intolerance, disharmonising the follies of the wind to its tenebrous refuge.
The flame—obstinate as the devil’s devour, tendentious as the stream of waterfall and sagacious to give internalised bliss to the morsels of darkness, is the indomitable and irrepressible spirit of Subhas Chandra Bose. It is the spirit that awakened India from the slumber to cement a path of ineluctable independence from the incendiary British imperialism.
Enlightenment of the soul to embark on a journey that connects the mind to the spirit is always a difficult one. It is an outreach to a dilemma thatincubates possibilities, of which a few diminish and some become the defining moment of our life. Bose’s decision to resign from the Indian Civil Service at the age of 24, the profligacy of which dethroned him from the visceral dream of India’s freedom, was an act of ablution to wash-off the mincemeat of slavery and subjugation by the British dominion.
Fastidious and proficient, ‘The Majesty’s Opponent’ by Sugata Bose is a deliverable of the conscious and unconscious that is dendritic to mobilize one’s ambitions. Bose, the venerated freedom fighter, was fluid in his assessment of India and her propensity to nestle in the hard-knotted aspirations of the rabble-rousers. A Cambridge graduate, he despised the schadenfreude as nationalism and gave a holistic importance to diverse cultural affinities to fight the Machiavellian imperialism.
Sugata Bose, a renowned Indian historian and politician, is currently the Gardiner professor of Oceanic history and affairs at the Harvard University. Being Subhas Chandra Bose’s grand- nephew, Sugata Bose has been assiduous in presenting the characteristics of Bose as it is.
Talking about the ‘Great Escape’ of 1941 and the peripatetic travels of Bose to Kabul, passing through European countries and the final showdown at Japan, the author brings forth the vision of the Indian Nationalist; perfidy some would call but for Netaji, it was the magnanimity of a dream that required global co-operation and seek insights into the minds of the so-called ‘iconic panjandrum’ who could help him in the anti-colonial movement.
Netaji was straight—bare-faced to acknowledge that his fight for equality and justice on a global platform is not a decisive pejorative of intemperate follies but a well-thought plan to evoke the spirit of freedom among the expatriates, the prisoners and the Indian sepoys. He felt the perennial need to desiccate the vulnerability of Indians to British subjugation and decimate the religious dystopia – a caucus belli that bedevilled the Hindu-Muslim unity. He was successful in launching the ‘Indian National Army’ to fight the insidious sprawls of British vendettas outside India to finally fall as the gliding spider on the irredentist shoulders of the colonial power reigning in the country.
‘His Majesty’s Opponent’ is a study of nationalistic mind that transpired the human tendency to believe in equality and justice—it’s better to be armed with an ideological personification rather than subjugation and chicanery to befall upon you. His ideologies were carved by the philosophical mind of ‘Swami Vivekananda’ and the political ambitions of ‘C.R. Das’. Further ahead, Bose marched with his own idiosyncrasies; sometimes faltered as an aberration by the Congress leadership or sledge hammered often by the British making him a ‘formidable opponent.’
The second tenure of his ‘Congress President’ was negated in an awkward silence by Gandhi and his protégées. Undeterred, Bose paved a path for himself where majoritism and minoritism was brushed under the carpet—people were bind by their affiliation to each other’s emotions and perceptions and not by caste and creed.
Every nationalistic movement is full of reprisals and rebuttals; carnage of emotions and sovereignty incarnadined by the ineluctable imperium. The price one has to pay for the recriminations cannot only be weighed by lives lost but also by the indefatigable spirit that refuses to budge on moralistic grounds.
Bose never deviated from his ideological tarmac. His sole purpose in life was to see India ‘free and united.’ Freedom came at a cost of devastation never envisioned. The untimely demise of Netaji in 1945 while travelling in a Japan aircraft buried the evangelical dream of ‘Hindu-Muslim’ unity. Had he been alive, the progeny would have surely lived a life away from the catastrophic religious engagements.
He still reverberates inside every Indian’s heart—the national greeting of ‘Jai-Hind’ is a revered call to the nationalistic hero.
The book is thoroughly informative and engaging…A true inspiration!!