India is now facing a political crisis, and if a wrong step is taken we might suffer a setback in our march towards independence. I cannot tell you how worried I feel today, because on the one hand, independence is within sight, while on the other if a wrong step is taken that independence may recede into the distance. At the outset, let me tell you that enemy propaganda in India has been so successful that influential leaders, who were once convinced that independence was within our grasp, and who were determined to do or die in order to win that independence, are now thinking in terms of becoming members of the Viceroy’s Executive Council.
We, who are outside India at this critical juncture, can take a much more objective view of the entire world situation than most of our countrymen at home. It is, therefore, our duty to tell you frankly what we think, and to advise you accordingly. After we withdrew our headquarters from Rangoon it was open to us to move to another place inside Burma, just as the Government of Independent Burma did at a time when our troops were still fighting inside Burma. But we hoped that the enemy would immediately exploit his recent military successes in Europe and in Burma, and launch a new political and military offensive. Consequently, we should be ready to meet that offensive, and we should be at a place from where we could speak to India ifnecessary. That is the principal reason why I am in Shonan or Singapore today.
The crisis that faces India today has arisen because some influential sections among our countrymen, who only three years ago were shouting ‘Liberty or Death,’ are now prepared to enter into a compromise with the British Government on Lord Wavell’s own terms. This attitude is altogether mistaken and unjustified for two reasons. Firstly, there can be no compromise over the question of independence. Secondly, the situation is not what these countrymen of ours think, and if we continue our resistance to British imperialism we shall win our independence by the end of this war.
If among those who are listening to me now there is anyone who has any doubts as to whether I am in close touch with what is happening all over the world he can himself judge from one simple fact. He must have noticed from my talks during the last week that I am in intimate touch with daily developments inside India, and if I am in touch with daily developments at home, I can easily be in touch with what is happening all over the world. On the other hand, for those who are inside India and who cannot see what is happening in that part of the world that is not dominated by the Anglo-Americans, and who are victims of enemy propaganda, it is difficult to form an objective opinion of the entire world situation.
Today, the whole world is in the melting pot, and India’s destiny is bound up to some extent with what is happening all over the world. Now, why am I so optimistic at a time when some of our prominent leaders have developed a defeatist mentality? It is because of two principal reasons. Firstly, we are carrying on an armed struggle against the British and their allies, and we are not pessimistic about the present situation in East Asia, in spite of our recent reverses in Burma. Secondly, India hasbecome an international issue, and if that issue is not converted into a domestic issue of the British Empire,India’s case will come up before the bar of world opinion. Can’t you see with your own eyes or hear with your own ears how Syria and the Lebanon are exploiting the war situation to their advantage, by creating a split within the camp of the so-called United Nations? We are no less intelligent or less far-sighted than the leaders of Syria and the Lebanon. But, if we want to bring the Indian issue before the bar of world opinion we have to do two things; firstly, we have to prevent any compromise with British Imperialism; and, secondly, we have to assert India’s right to freedom with arms.
If our countrymen at home cannot take up arms, and if they cannot even continue civil disobedience against Britain’s war effort, let them at least keep up their moral resistance to British Imperialism and refuse to come to any compromise. We shall continue to assert India’s right to freedom with arms, and so long as we do so no power on earth can prevent India remaining an international issue, provided you do not let us down by compromising with the British Government.
I understand that some of the leaders at home are furious with me for opposing their plans for a compromise with the British Government. They are also furious with me for pointing out the blunders of the Congress Working Committee and the Congress; and they are furious with me for pointing out that the Congress Working Committee does not represent national opinion in the Congress or in the country. These imperialist leaders are abusing me for taking the help of the Japanese. I am not ashamed of taking the help of Japan. My cooperation with Japan is on the basis that Japan recognises India’s complete independence, and it has already granted formal recognition to the Provisional Government of Azad Hind or Free India. But those who now want to cooperate with the British Government and fight Britain’s imperialist war are prepared to accept the position of subordinates responsible to Britain’s Viceroy in India. If their leaders cooperate with the British Government on the basis that Britain grants formal recognition to the Government of Free India that would be a different matter. Moreover, Japan has given us the arms with which to organise an army of our own with which we can fight British imperialism which is our sole enemy. This army, the Azad Hind Fauj has been trained by Indian instructors using the Indian language. This army carries India’s national flag, and its slogans are India’s national slogans. This army has its own Indian officers and its own officers’ training schools run entirely by Indians. And, in the field of battle this army fights under its own Indian commanders some of whom havenow reached the rank of Generals. If this army is called a â€˜puppet army,’ then it is the British Indian Army that should be called a ‘puppet army,’ because it is fighting Britain’s Imperialist war under British officers. Am I to believe that in an army of 2,500,000 only a microscopic number of Indians are found fit to obtain the highest honour in the British army, namely, the Victoria Cross? Not one single Indian has yet been found fit to hold the rank of General.
Comrades! I have said that I am not ashamed to seek the help of Japan. I can go forward and say that if the almighty British Empire can go down on its knees in order to obtain the help of the United States of America, there is no reason why we, an enslaved and disarmed nation, should not take help from our friends. Today we are taking the help of Japan, tomorrow we shall not hesitate to get help from any other Power if that be possible, and if that be desirable in the interests of India. Nobody will be more happy than myself if we could achieve India’s independence without foreign help of any sort. But I have yet to find one single instance, in modern history, where an enslaved nation has achieved its liberation without foreign help of any sort. And, for an enslaved India it is much more honourable to join hands with the enemies of the British Empire than to curry favour with British leaders or British political parties. Our whole difficulty is that we do not hate our enemies enough, and our leaders are always eager to help India’s enemy.
Is it not ridiculous that some of our leaders spout anti-imperialist venom abroad while shaking hands with imperialism at home? Comrades! I would never have opened my mouth and said one word to you if I had been sitting as an arm-chair politician here. I and my comrades here are engaged in a grim struggle. Our comrades at the front have to play with death. Even those who are not at the front have to face danger every minute of their existence. When we were in Burma, bombing and machine-gunning were our daily entertainment. I have seen many of my comrades killed, maimed and injured from the enemy’s ruthless bombing and machine-gunning. I have seen the entire hospital of the Azad Hind Fauj in Rangoon razed to the ground with our helpless patients suffering heavy casualties. That I and many others with me are still alive today is only through God’s grace. It is because we are living, working and fighting in the face of death that I have a right to speak to you and to advise you. Most of you do not know what bombing is. Most of you do not know what it is to be machine-gunned by low flying bombers and fighters. Most of you have had no experience of bullets whistling past you to your right and to your left.Those who have gone through this experience and have kept up their morale dare not even look at Lord Wavell’s offer.
Comrades! We have to consider what to do about Lord Wavell’s offer. First of all though the time at your disposal is short, you will have to do everything possible to prevent the acceptance of this offer by the Congress Working Committee. Secondly, if you fail in that you will then have to create a situation which will force the Congress representatives to resign from the Viceroy’s Executive Council. This will not be difficult. You will have to bring about a crisis between the Viceroy and the Congress members of the Executive Council. There is no doubt that when the new Executive Council is formed, the Viceroy will begin to exploit India’s resources in men, money and material for fighting Britain’s future war in the Far East. This will naturally raise numerous issues in which India’s interests will clash with those of Britain. In that situation you will have to let loose a barrage of agitation and propaganda. Then the Congress Members of the Executive Council will be sure to stand up for India’s interests against those of Britain and this will lead to a clash with the Viceroy and inevitably end in their resignation. Then you will have to agitate in order to prevent Indian troops being used as cannon-fodder. You will have to undertake to sabotage Britain’s war effort in India and prevent Indian troops being sent to the battlefront. As you are aware, during the last five years the British were giving valuable instructions for organising and carrying on underground movements in countries which went out of their control or influence. If you follow all those instructions and apply them against the British in India, you will achieve valuable results.
Comrades! I shall now close for the day, but before I conclude I would like to remind you again that a revolutionary is one who believes in the justice of a cause, and he believes that the cause is bound to prevail in the long run. He who gets depressed over failure is no revolutionary. The motto for a revolutionary is ‘Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.’ I am confident that if we fight on and if we play our cards well in the international field, we shall win our freedom by the end of this war.