Thank you for interesting centre-spread on Netaji Bose (March issue), but I must admit my surprise at Ashis Ray’s description of him as a ‘left-wing patriot’.
Much as I respect Netaji Bose for his brilliance and helping rid India of British rule, I find it hard to square any kind of left-wing credentials with his relations with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and his admiration for Mussolini. It is all well and good to say ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’, but shared ideology must come into it.
In his book Indian Struggle, Bose himself said he believed India needed a political system that was mix of fascism and communism, and he made a speech in Singapore saying that India needed an ‘iron dictator’ for 20 years after British rule to stop conflicts.
I will not question Netaji Bose’s love of freedom for the Indian people, but it just seems to me that he was the one who was giving the definition of freedom.
India’s past impacts on the present
I am glad that Asian Affairs saw fit to publish an article recently on the mysterious death (or non-death) of Netaji Bose.
Some in India, and among the diaspora, have called for the country to move on as it faces problems in the present that need to be urgently addressed.
Nobody would dispute that. However, it is dangerous to allow our present concerns to lead us to hide away what happened in the past, especially in the case of Netaji Bose. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Nehru played a part in concealing the truth about what really happened to Netaji, and since India spent a long time under the governance of Nehru-Gandhi heirs, surely it is extremely important to understand Nehru’s role in all of this.
If people start digging up the past, they will always at some point find some unpalatable truths. But it is better to know them than to bury our heads in the sand.
A distant but reachable peace
There was not a great deal of optimism in George Friedman’s article on Afghanistan, ‘Is peace a distant destination?’ (Asian Affairs, March 2016 issue), and hope could recede further if Afghanistan’s so-called ‘national unity’ government continues in its failure to actually bring some unity by forming a cabinet or finalising a list of governors.
The country’s current experiment in power-sharing between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has been a disaster up to now, with divisions and disputes at all levels.
So if these two parties cannot manage to power-share, one has to wonder what prospects there could be for sharing power with the Taliban, who, in the wake of any agreement, would have to be given a proportion of government posts.
Imagining Taliban zealots agreeing to set down their weapons and share power with a government whose aim is to build a nation along more Western and democratic lines is difficult, to say the least. After all, thousands of Taliban fighters have already given their lives in the name of ‘pure Islam’ against Western ‘infidels’ and everything they represent.
That said, there is always the possibility of devolving more powers to different ethnic and tribal factions in Afghanistan, so that the people of Afghanistan are given the chance to negotiate their own peace on their own terms. Peace may be distant but not necessarily unattainable.