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Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Netaji ahead of time: Former navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash

Admiral was speaking on occasion of Sarat Chandra Bose lecture at Netaji Research Bureau

Subhankar Chowdhury | Published 03.09.23, 06:08 AM
Admiral Arun Prakash, former chief of the Indian Navy, speaks at Netaji Bhavan on Saturday evening. Seated on stage are Sugata Bose and (right) Sumantra Bose

Admiral Arun Prakash, former chief of the Indian Navy, speaks at Netaji Bhavan on Saturday evening. Seated on stage are Sugata Bose and (right) Sumantra Bose

Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha

India would have benefited “far more” if there were efforts to follow Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s ideas on “democracy, secularism, political freedom and gender equality” rather than just paying lip service to him, former navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash said in Kolkata on Saturday.

The admiral was speaking on the occasion of the Sarat Chandra Bose lecture at the Netaji Research Bureau. His topic: “Netaji Subas as a military icon”.


Admira Praksh said: “India would have benefited far more if we followed his ideas on democracy, political freedom, secularism and gender equality, which he
practised in his life, rather than just paying lip service to him.

“Living in exile, Netaji had reflected upon many aspects of nation-building. He would have contributed significantly had he been alive.”

He said the country was going through a “precipitous decline” and it was time that the real ideas of Netaji, “who single-handedly sought to liberate India from British occupation” were followed.

The admiral expressed concern about China occupying vast stretches of what used to be Indian territory not so long ago.

“It is worrisome that a neighbouring country is staking claim to our territory. It is certainly worrisome. A country that is growing in terms of economy and military power staking a claim repeatedly and issuing a map claiming your part of the country, is definitely worrisome. And we must craft a strategy to counter the Chinese grand plan, whatever it is and face the reality.”

The admiral spoke about the Chinese aggression in response to a question from The Telegraph after his address.

“I think Netaji was far ahead of his times when he was fighting for India’s freedom and he was a visionary. At that time, he visualised that as and when India gets freedom what kind of a state it will be. He was clear that it will be a democracy. Secular. There will be freedom of expression and gender equality. By his own actions, he showed all these. He raised the Rani Lakshimibai regiment. He made sure that poeple of all religions sat together, worked together, fought together.”

Netaji, the former navy chief believes, was a democrat at heart. “Otherwise, he would have put on some military rank. But he refused to do that because he was democratic. He believed in freedom of speech. All these are the need of the hour.”

“There is lack of unity in the country. Something is happening in Manipur, something is happening in Kashmir. There are incidents happening in the rest of the country also. This is a time to remember Netaji’s teachings and follow them in civic life and political life.”

When The Telegraph asked what he meant by lip service, he said: “Rather than just praising him or building a monument to him, we should follow his teachings.”

Sugata Bose, Netaji’s grand nephew, chairperson of the Netaji Research Bureau and history professor at Harvard, said it was apt that admiral Prakash spoke about secularism and democracy while talking about Netaji.

“I am glad that a decorated military veteran like Arun Prakash has put forward that view which I have been expressing for some time: that you cannot simply honour him as a great military hero of our freedom struggle without following his ideas on equality and unity. Admiral Arun Prakash has emphasised unity alongside gender lines, men and women. He has talked about secularism, equal rights for all religious communities and including in a federal union all the different linguistic regional people of India.”

“Coming from someone who was decorated with a Veer Chakra, I think it was a very important lesson that has gone out from Netaji Bhavan on the eve of the anniversary of Sarat Chandra Bose, Netaji’s elder brother who never distinguished between Hindus and Muslims in his entire political life.”

Last updated on 03.09.23, 06:08 AM

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