Skip to main content

Netaji Bose was no Hindutva sympathizer, favoured India as socialist republic: Noted historian Irfan Habib

Prof Irfan Habib
By Our Representative
Veteran historian Prof S Irfan Habib has taken strong exception to what he calls efforts to drag into controversy one of India’s topmost nationalist icons – Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose – by those who have little to with him – or with his "politics during the freedom struggle.”
In a strongly-worded critique in a well-known left-of-centre site, scroll.in, Prof Habib, who is among India’s top-ranking historians, says that Bose has been “invoked by the right-wing political groups during the past two years.”
Habib’s view comes even as a well-known right-wing site, swarjyamag.com, declared (click HERE) that Netaji considered Hinduism “as an essential part of Indianness”, insisting he was “thoroughly influenced” by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the founder of the concept of Hindutva.
Suggesting that Bose was not a Hindutva sympathizer, Prof Habib said, Bose, in fact, favoured a socialist India. Thus, the historian quotes Bose as saying, “I want a socialist Republic of India. I want political freedom and complete economic emancipation.”
Bose, Prof Habib adds, further noted in the Karachi session of the Congress in 1931, “Every human being must have the right to work and right of living wage. There shall be no drones in our society and no unearned incomes.”
Bose had continued, adds Prof Habib, that “there must be equal opportunities for all. Above all, there should be a fair, just and equitable distribution of wealth. For this purpose it may be necessary for the state to take over the control of the means of production and distribution of wealth.”
Prof Habib further quotes Bose as saying, “I want social equality for all. There should be no caste, no depressed classes. Every man will have the same rights and the same status in society.”
Suggesting all this showed where Bose’s sympathies lie, the historian further quotes Bose as saying that “there shall be no inequality between the sexes, either in social status or in the law, and women shall be, in every way equal partner of men.”
Regretting that such Netaji’s statements have “remained under wraps”, Prof Habib says, unfortunately, there has been an effort to create “a mystique around his disappearance” and generate “huge controversies.”
A Marxist historian, Prof Habib created flutter decades ago by differing from Karl Marx’s notion Asiatic of mode of production, according Asian, including Indian, societies, were characterized by absence of private ownership of land, autonomous village communities, and a despotic centralized state in charge of public works.
“The tragedy with the right is that its unique selling proposition in politics is nationalism, while its share in creating a plural nationalist ethos, particularly since 1925, is abysmally poor”, says Prof Habib, adding, “This leaves the right with no credible nationalist icon to look up to and their only option is to hang on to the most popular ones at the slightest opportunity.”
“These icons are conveniently reduced to being just nationalists and ‘martyrs’, with no reference to their ideas and politics so as to somehow fit them into the current right wing politics of nationalism and slogans”, he adds.
“Nationalism is not empty rhetoric – it can’t be flaunted by mere chest thumping or even by branding some fellow citizens as anti-nationals”, says Prof Habib, adding, Bose was a nationalist and “in the vanguard of our freedom struggle and not engaged in some apolitical and safe socio-religious reform programme.”

Comments

KK Singh said…
Agreed with the author! Subhash Chandra Bose does not sound a Marxist like Bhagat Singh but yet was not a narrow minded religious person!
His disappearance gives opportunity to many, including his family members, to encash his legacy, distort his views!
Our aim must be in synch with Marxism Leninism, while exposing the right wing plots, to establish a proletarian revolution, a proletarian culture!

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Ramchandra Guha on how Gandhi outgrew his Gujarati bania 'parochialism'

By Rajiv Shah
More than a fortnight ago, prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, who calls himself Gandhi scholar and not a Gandhian, came to Ahmedabad. While I was part of a small group of persons who met him at lunch, his lecture on Gandhi in the evening, where he sought to interpret what swaraj meant to Gandhi, surely, interested the selected audience that had been called to listen to him.

Ironical? Hindutva is all 'fire and spite', as Muslim women become apostles of peace

By Sandeep Pandey*
On January 26, Republic Day, 2020, while protests simmered against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India, a dozen North American cities also witnessed historic protests. Indian Embassies have been witness to protests in the past. But this time it was different.

Union Budget: 24 crore people live in the dark, Sitharaman talks of prepaid smart meters

Counterview Desk
The Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), a Delhi-based advocacy group, commenting on the Union budget 2020-21, has has called it a case of missing wood for the trees, pointing out, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman "missed an opportunity to fix the economy, which is reeling under an unprecedented slowdown, with all indices pointing towards a recession."