Summary of a speech delivered by Netaji at a mass rally of Indians in Singapore on 24 June 1945. This summary was broadcast to listeners in India by the Provisional Government of Azad Hind Radio Station the same night.
Friends! After nearly six months I stand before you again to speak to you on the present situation and our future task. I am sorry that I cannot bring you good news from Burma. After our failure to take Imphal last year, the enemy was able to advance into Burma. While the main force of the enemy was held up by the forces of the ImperialJapanese Army and the Indian National Army, advanced mechanised units of the enemy consisting of tanks, armoured-cars, etc., were able to break through our defences and threaten our headquarters. We had to decide whether we should keep our headquarters there, inviting attacks from the enemy’s advanced mechanised units, or withdraw to a safer place. It was not easy for us to withdraw from the danger zone in Rangoon leaving behind our comrades of the Azad Hind Fauj fighting at the front. But, after very careful consideration, the Ministers of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind unanimously decided that, owing to certain reasons, we should withdraw to a safer place.
After we left Rangoon, it was still possible for us to keep our headquarters in Burma, as the Burma Government, the Government of Adipadi Dr Ba Maw, did. But that was also not considered advisable in the interests of India. The present position in Burma is that fighting is going on in all parts of the country in the Shan States, in the Toungoo area, near Prome, and in the Arakan. The main force of the enemy is still being held up, and nobody can say how long the fight will go on, or when the enemy will succeed in capturing Burma. Though the strength of the Azad HindFauj is small compared to the Japanese Army, our comrades of Azad Hind Fauj are fighting valiantly under very difficult conditions. Our main force is with our comrades who are now fighting in Burma, but we had to withdraw our headquarters from Burma, leaving our army in charge of the newly organised Burma Command of which Major-General Loganadhan is the Commander with Lieut.-Col. Arshad as his Chief of Staff.
The Provisional Government had to withdraw its headquarters from Burma in order to organise its forces outside Burma and continue the fight on other fronts. If we had no other forces outside Burma then in all probability we would have remained with our comrades in Burma and fought to the last, facing any situation that would have arisen thereafter. There was another reason which persuaded us to withdraw our headquarters from Burma. It was clear to us that after his recent military successes the enemy would launch a new military and political offensive on other fronts, and it was necessary for us to prepare in time for that offensive and meet it when it was launched.
Our misfortune was that the crisis in Burma came almost simultaneously with the crisis in Europe. The enemy took full advantage of it, and immediately launched a political offensive directed towards India. That political offensive was Lord Wavellâ€™s offer.
The motives behind Lord Wavell’s offer are principally two in number; firstly, to extract help from India for the future war in East Asia, and, secondly, to reach a compromise with the Indian people and thereby make India a domestic issue of the British Empire. The British had to produce men, money and material in large quantities to help America in the future war against Japan. But the British Army and also the British-Indian Army is war-weary and does not want to face a long campaign in the Far East, under conditions much more difficult than in Europe. Therefore, the required cannon-fodder could be obtained only from India. But, unless the full strength and resources of the Indian people is mobilised and their enthusiasm roused, the British can never obtain from India the manpower they need for the future war in East Asia. The other motive behind Lord Wavell’s offer is to make India a domestic issue of the British Empire and thereby prevent friendly foreign powers from intervening on behalf of India’s independence. The Allied Powers have talked so much about freedom and democracy for all nations that the enslaved nations of the world have begun to take full advantage of this in working for their own independence. Syria and the Lebanon are examples of this. The remark made by the Soviet Foreign Minister, M Molotov, at the San Francisco Conference, while acknowledging the credentials of the Indian representatives, and his statement that the day is not far off when the voice of Free India will be heard in the world was given as a warning to Britain. The British Government realised that if there is no compromise with the Indian people, India would remain an international issue and it would be open to friendly foreign powers to intercede on behalf of India’s independence, even if the Indian people did not take up arms against the British Government.
If you want to understand Britain’s future aims in India, you have only to remember that Britain is determined to prevent friendly foreign powers from espousing the cause of India’s independence. Our policy should, therefore, be to prevent the British from making India a domestic issue of the British Empire, by preventing any understanding between India and Britain which is not on the basis of India’s complete independence.
Several years before the outbreak of this World War, when the League of Nations was in existence, the late Vithalbhai Patel and myself went to Geneva with the object of bringing India’s demand for independence before the League of Nations. At that time we failed because no member of the League of Nations wanted to offend Britain by advocating India’s independence before that body. Butconditionshave changed considerably since then. And nowthere is a betterchance of bringing India’s case for independence before the bar of world opinion. The fact that Japan and eight other friendly Powers have recognised India’s independence by formally recognising the Provisional Government of Azad Hind has strengthened India’s position considerably before the whole world.
Before I deal with Lord Wavell’s offer, I want to say something about the world situation. As I predicted six months ago, the collapse of Germany has brought about an acute conflict between the Soviet and the Anglo-Americans. At the present moment they have patched up their differences in Europe, but that is only superficial and is a preparation for a real show-down in Asia. Moreover, in spite of differences temporarily patched up, the fundamental differences between the two sides still remain and they are irreconcilable. The result of the German collapse has been that Soviet power and influence in Europe has increased very much more than that of the Anglo-American Powers.
America is now concentrating on the war against Japan and is demanding adequate help from Britain. In my personal opinion, in a future war in East Asia two main battles will be fought. One is on the mainland of Japan, and the other in China. I cannot say at the present moment which battle will come first, but there is no doubt that Japan is fully prepared for both these main battles. I know also that in every part of East Asia the armed forces of Japan are organised on a self-sufficient basis. Consequently, if there is a setback in one theatre of war that will not affect the fighting strength of Japan’s armed forces in another theatre. The Anglo-Americans know fully well that a long and bitter struggle is ahead of them. In this connection it is interesting to note what a distinguished British Commander, General Slim of the British 14th Army who fought in Burma recently, said the other day in an interview in England. He remarked that though many nations talk of fighting to the last, there is only one nation that actually does so and that is Japan. While Japan will go on fighting under all circumstances, we will also do the same for the sake of India’s independence, and the Azad Hind Fauj will fight to the last man and to the last round.
In my personal opinion, I doubt very much if the coming conference between Marshal Stalin, President Truman and Prime Minister Churchill to deal with the problems of East Asia can come to anything. I do not think that the problem of China can be successfully tackled in view of the strained relations between Chungking and Yenan and in view of America’s ambitions in China. I do not see how these three Powers can come to an agreement about China. I am of the opinion that it is easier for the Yenan Government to come to an agreement with Nanking than with Chungking. So long as Chungking is dominated by America I do not see how the unification of China will be possible. So far as Japan is concerned, her new policy in China and her promise to withdraw troops from China on the termination of hostilities have made it clear that Japan will welcome the unification of China, and her only interest is and always has been, that Anglo-American power and influence is kept out of China. Every Indian has only goodwill towards China and wants to see a strong and unified China progressing along the lines laid down by China’s great leader, Dr Sun Yat Sen. A free Asia is not possible without a free China and a free India.
In spite of our recent reverses in Burma, our optimism and our confidence in our final victory remains unimpaired. India’s independence can be won by the end of this war, because of three principal factors; firstly, our armed struggle in East Asia, secondly, diplomacy in the international field, and, thirdly, resistance inside India. It goes without saying that the greater the resistance inside India, the less time will it take for us to win our independence. But even if resistance inside India is only moral in character, India will remain an international issue and there will be ample scope for discussion in the international field. The most important problem for us is to continue the bitter struggle against the British in East Asia. This will have a two-fold effect in that it will influence the cause of India and it will also help to purge our countrymen at home of the defeatist mentality which is the result of successful enemy propaganda. Secondly, it would tend to reveal our rightful claim before the world, and enable us to secure the support of friendly Powers. To continue the armed struggle we must keep our confidence in our final victory. In this connection I want to refer to what the Allied Supreme Commander in the last World War, Marshal Foch, wrote in his memoirs. Talking of victory and defeat, Marshal Foch said: â€œThat enemy is beaten which considers itself to be beaten. So long as an army does not consider itself to be beaten, defeat in any particular area does not mean real defeat.â€ The British, for example, were expelled from Burma in 1942, but they have managed to re-enter Burma. Who can say that we shall not recapture in Burma what we have lost. When we were withdrawing from Burma I reminded my comrades of the above remarks of Marshal Foch, and I pointed out that we were not beaten by any means, because not one of us felt that he was beaten, or that the battle was lost.
A true revolutionary is one who never acknowledges defeat, who never feels depressed or disheartened. A true revolutionary believes in the justice of hiscause and is confident that his cause is bound toprevail in the long run. Though we have lost the first round in the battle of Burma, I find that we have been able to influence even the enemy. After entering Burma the enemy was able to see and hear something of the work of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind and of the Azad Hind Fauj. Previously, the enemy used always to refer to us as the â€˜Japanese Puppet Army.â€™ After entering Burma he began to call us the ‘Japanese-inspired Indian National Army.â€™ But now they refer to us as Indian National Army. When the British took Mandalay they issued an order that no Indian was to use the greeting Jai Hind which, as you know, means’Victory to India.’ The result of this order was that boys and girls of our Balak Sena in Mandalay came out in the streets and greeted British Officers with Jai Hind. Our point is that if we go on fighting bravely and shedding our blood, we shall not only be able to influence our countrymen, who are indifferent and lukewarm, but we shall also be able to impress the enemy.
I shall now come back to Lord Wavell’s offer. That offer contains three principal points: Firstly, a promise of self-government within the British Empire; secondly, more seats on the Viceroy’s Executive Council, and, thirdly, restoration of the Ministries in the Provinces. There is nothing in this offer, which can commend itself to any nationalist Indian, and under normal circumstances not a single Congressman would have even looked at that offer. Firstly, the British have been always promising self-government. Secondly, since the members of the Viceroy’s Executive Council are responsible to the Viceroy and nobody else, more seats on that Council do not mean any advance towards our appointed goal of independence. Furthermore, the Viceroy will have the power of veto and so he will be able to turn down any decision of the Executive Council, even if it is unanimous. In short, the Viceroy’s Executive Council will not function as Cabinet but as an advisory body, the power remaining in the hands of the Viceroy.
Thirdly, the restoration of Ministries in the provinces has no importance because the Congress Ministries in eight provinces voluntarily resigned in 1939 since they were opposed to participation in Britain’s war.
Unfortunately for us, the Indian leaders who are now outside prison have been so overawed by the recent military successes of the Anglo-Americans that they have developed a defeatist mentality. That is why Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress Working Committee have decided to attend the Viceroy’s Conference at Simla on the 25th when Lord Wavell’s offer will be discussed. We are now doing what ispossible to persuade our countrymen at home not to accept Lord Wavell’s offer, and thereby make the Simla Conference a failure. If we fail in this and if the Congress accepts the offer of entering the Viceroy’s Executive Council we shall then find created a situation inside India whereby the Congress will be forced to resign from the Executive Council. We are determined to prevent a compromise between India and Britain, so that India may remain an international issue, so as to enable us to work for the complete independence of India.
Our task in East Asia is a two-fold one. Firstly, to continue the armed struggle which we launched on the 4th February 1943; secondly, to agitate for Indian independence in the international field and to utilise every conflict within the camp of the so-called United Nations, and in particular the conflict between the Soviet Union and the Anglo-Americans. For out fight in East Asia, Malaya is our base. So long as the British are kept out of Malaya, our work for India’s independence will continue uninterrupted. Therefore, if at any time the British try to land in Malaya we will fight with all the strength that we have.
When the history of Indian independence is finally written, Indians in Malaya will have a glorious place in that history. The contribution of Indians in Malaya for India’s struggle for freedom in men, money and material has been great. India will always remain grateful for the same. In particular, Malaya has been the birth-place of the Azad Hind Fauj and of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind. Malaya has contributed a large number of youngmen who have fought bravely and died for India’s freedom, and Malaya has made the largest contribution to the ranks of the ‘Rani of Jhansi Regiment’. Indians in Malaya must maintain the brilliant record that they have already set up. It is from Malaya that the call for total mobilisation first went out.
Today I want to appeal to you for more men, more money and more material. After our most recent reverses in Burma your responsibility has become greater. Knowing what you have done in the past I have no doubt that you will do even more in the future. I only want you to keep up your faith in the justice of our cause. So long as you keep up this faith you will also keep up your optimism and your confidence in final victory.