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A Gentleman's Word

The Legacy of Subhas Chandra Bose in Southeast Asia

Nilanjana Sengupta

Publication Year: 2012

The great Indian nationalist leader Subhas Chandra Bose arrived in Singapore in 1943 to revitalize the Indian National Army (INA). Taking the opportunity of the Japanese occupation of parts of Southeast Asia, he launched armed struggle against British colonial rule in India. Two years later, that attempt failed at the eastern gates of India. Yet, it was a temporary failure because the INA helped set in motion a series of developments within India. These would culminate in its freedom in a further two years. Bose is household name in India. He is remembered in Southeast Asia as well, particularly among Indians. However, while his contributions to India’s independence movement have been recorded exhaustively, less is known about the legacy that he left behind in Southeast Asia. This book seeks to fill that gap in the international understanding of a great Indian nationalist and pan-Asianist. It records how participation in the nationalist struggle invested Southeast Asian Indians with a rare sense of dignity and helped foster a mushrooming of militant trade unions, making it difficult for the returning British planters to perpetuate their control over what had been a docile workforce. The INA’s Rani of Jhansi movement proved to be a pioneering effort at drawing Southeast Asian Indian women out of their traditional roles and expectations. It inspired some of them to take up mainstream roles for the cause of equality and emancipation. A Gentleman’s Word retraces this journey of self-discovery of those who were inspired by Subhas Chandra Bose. The great Indian nationalist leader Subhas Chandra Bose arrived in Singapore in 1943 to revitalize the Indian National Army (INA). Taking the opportunity of the Japanese occupation of parts of Southeast Asia, he launched armed struggle against British colonial rule in India. Two years later, that attempt failed at the eastern gates of India. Yet, it was a temporary failure because the INA helped set in motion a series of developments within India. These would culminate in its freedom in a further two years. Bose is household name in India. He is remembered in Southeast Asia as well, particularly among Indians. However, while his contributions to India’s independence movement have been recorded exhaustively, less is known about the legacy that he left behind in Southeast Asia. This book seeks to fill that gap in the international understanding of a great Indian nationalist and pan-Asianist. It records how participation in the nationalist struggle invested Southeast Asian Indians with a rare sense of dignity and helped foster a mushrooming of militant trade unions, making it difficult for the returning British planters to perpetuate their control over what had been a docile workforce. The INA’s Rani of Jhansi movement proved to be a pioneering effort at drawing Southeast Asian Indian women out of their traditional roles and expectations. It inspired some of them to take up mainstream roles for the cause of equality and emancipation. A Gentleman’s Word retraces this journey of self-discovery of those who were inspired by Subhas Chandra Bose.

Published by: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-x

Dozens of books, many recent, and scores of articles by scholarly researchers have been written about Subhas Chandra Bose and his role and exploits in the political struggle he waged towards gaining independence for India from the British Raj. His political and diplomatic efforts and military exploits in that struggle have been extensively researched ...

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Message

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pp. xi-xii

Most Indian families of my generation in Singapore and Malaysia would have had some connection with Subhas Chandra Bose and his struggle for India’s independence through the Indian National Army. Even after World War II had ended, and for many years later, Bose’s picture took pride of place in our homes. ...

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Message

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pp. xiii-xiv

Nilanjana Sengupta casts her net widely in this ambitious volume exploring the post-war impact of Subhas Chandra Bose on Southeast Asia. Because the study of Bose has been extensively explored by generations of scholars, Sengupta necessarily addresses some familiar ground. ...

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Preface

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pp. xv-xxii

For me it all started with meeting three little old men at an Udipi restaurant on Serangoon Road, Singapore. Bala A. Chandran, Girish Kothari and Kishore Bhattacharya — all three in their eighties, with one of them having undergone an intestinal surgery in the recent past. ...

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Acknowledgements

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pp. xxiii-xxv

The last year has been one of the best years of my life. Since February 2011, which is when I started working on this book in all seriousness, I have met countless people, most of whom have become friends or at least close acquaintances. There was nobody I approached with details of the project, ...

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1. A Journey: A Dream

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pp. 1-37

On 9 February 1943 Subhas Chandra Bose embarked on an undisclosed journey on a submarine, as a guest of the German navy. As he set off on this eastward journey he was unaware that he would not survive the war or that he was swiftly moving towards what would turn out to be the final phase of his life. ...

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2. An Outsider in the Crescent and a Trial for Treason

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pp. 38-92

As Subhas Chandra Bose made his way through treacherous oceans towards the Southeast Asian crescent, large tracts of this great connected landmass were under the imperial regime of Japan. From Bengal at the Western tip, down through Burma, Thailand and stretching to Malaya (Malaysia and Singapore) on the East, ...

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3. End of a War, Beginning of Others

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pp. 93-165

One of Krishna Bose’s books, Charana Rekha Taba [In Your Footsteps] — which is a travelogue that doubles up as a historical narrative as the author traces Subhas Chandra Bose’s footsteps across East Asia — recounts a rather memorable incident. The event occurred at Formosa (Taiwan). ...

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4. We are the Multitudes

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pp. 166-194

In one of the books by an INA veteran, there is a description of a League meeting at a rubber plantation. The Indian Independence League’s (IIL) message was conveyed to the plantations on the Malaya-Thailand border. It was a plantation like any other of this region. ...

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5. “They Have Done Enough at Home”: Escape from the Shadows

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pp. 195-236

Muthammal Palanisamy’s story unfolds across three generations on a rubber estate at Malaya. The plantation, called Sungai Wangi, is in a lesser-known district of Perak, peopled by men and women who are lost in history today. Muthammal’s biography is peppered with female protagonists — daughters, wives, mothers ...

Bibliography

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pp. 237-244

Index

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pp. 245-260

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About the Author

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pp. 261-

Nilanjana Sengupta is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore and has been a journalist and freelance feature writer with eminent Indian dailies like Hindustan Times, Midday and DNA. ...

Photos Section 1

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Photos Section 2

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Photos Section 3

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Photos Section 4

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E-ISBN-13: 9789814379793
Print-ISBN-13: 9789814379786

Page Count: 261
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Bose, Subhas Chandra, 1897-1945 -- Influence.
  • Indian National Army -- History.
  • World War, 1939-1945.
  • Nationalism -- Southeast Asia -- History.
  • Southeast Asia -- Politics and government -- 1945-.
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