The thought and action of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was highly influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s ideals. Netaji described Vivekananda as the maker of modern India”. Swamiji had a most practical approach in showing the path towards solving humanitarian crises in modern society. Netaji was influenced by Swamiji’s philosophical ideas about reconstructing the nation. He was overwhelmed by the success of socialism in Soviet Russia in solving the problems of poverty, illiteracy and backwardness but he did not like the dogmatic approach of the Soviet system which treated man as a machine. But Bose like Swami Vivekananda believed that every human being is a manifestation of Brahman – the supreme soul.
Swami Vivekananda wanted economic regeneration of our society in the interest of the masses. He wanted proper distribution of wealth as, in his words: India is restless with the thought of how to face this spectre of hunger. The draining of the best resources of the country by the foreigners, the unrestricted exports of merchandise, and above all, the abdominal jealousy natural to slaves are eating into the vitals of India”.
Bose wanted a planned approach towards development like Soviet Russia in solving the socio-economic crisis. In 1938 as Congress President, he had set up a National Planning Committee with Jawaharlal Nehru as its president to formulate developmental strategies. He considered that economic independence is the essence for the achievement of political and social freedom.
In his presidential address at the 51st Session of the Indian National Congress held at Haripura in February 1938, Bose spelt out his ideas about economic planning and industrialisation of Free India. The very first thing which our future National Government will have to do, would be to setup a Commission for drawing up a comprehensive plan of reconstruction.”
Bose wanted to create a National Planning Commission, a body similar to Supreme Economic Council or `Vesenkha’ in the USSR which advised the planning process in that country. The state would adopt a comprehensive scheme leading to a gradual socialisation in our entire agricultural and industrial system in the spheres of both production and distribution. He also spoke about eradication of Zamindari system and removal of agricultural indebtedness.
Like Swami Vivekanada, Bose desired economic reconstruction and industrialisation on modern scientific and technological methods. He also believed that the foreign domination was the chief cause of poverty, unemployment and low standard of living.
Bose said: “The moment India is free, the most important problem will be the organising of our national defence in order to safeguard our freedom in the future. For that we shall have to build up modern war industries so that, we may produce the arms that we shall need for self-defence. This will mean a very big programme of industrialisation. Modernising agriculture would aggravate the problem of unemployment of the uprooted labourers. To face this situation development of industry would be required to absorb the surplus labour.” He classified industries into three categories, namely large-scale or heavy industries, medium-scale and cottage industries. According to him, heavy industries were important for rapid economic development.
Bose’s idea of an egalitarian society was based on equality of social and economic status. No discrimination would be made on the basis of birth, parentage, caste and creed. As a true Socialist, he wanted emancipation of the peasants and workers from exploitation. While stating the objectives of Samyabadi Sangha visualised by him, he said: The party stands for the interest groups of the masses, that is of peasants, workers etc. and not for the vested interests that is the landlords, capitalists and money lending classes.”
In the early 1920s, Bose became the founder President of the All Bengal Youth League and he announced that after Independence, there would be protection of interests of labour and peasants, amelioration of economic condition of the masses, reduction of working hours, a minimum scale of wages, medical leave with full pay, old age pension, compensation for infirmity or serious accidents etc. It was under Bose’s leadership that the labour strike in the Tata Iron and Steel Works at Jamshedpur ended in an honourable settlement in 1928. He became the President of the All India Trade Union Congress in 1931. Espousing the cause of labour, he said: Labour today wants the right to work.” In his speech he wanted that labour should get proper protection in its struggle for survival and state should support the industry as well as labour to create a good environment.
Bose’s socialism didn’t mean imitating Karl Marx. He believed Marxian principles and applications were much too dependent on material gains and creature comforts and had no provision for a man’s mental cum spiritual upliftment, which consisted of man’s economic prosperity at the same time resulting in his spiritual gain enabling him to get rid of vices that degrades humanism.
Bose felt India should evolve her own path and model for achieving a socialistic character. He only wanted to incorporate Marxian economic principles but was not interested in Marx’s dialectical materialism. Bose wanted Vivekananda’s value-based humanistic social condition where everyone would have the opportunity to grow, equality of man and woman and no discrimination on caste and creed in the economic upliftment of society.
As a true humanist Bose like Vivekananda preferred moral progress instead of material progress. In his Presidential Address at the Students Conference held at Lahore in October1929, he expounded his concept of freedom which he wanted for India. “This freedom implies not only emancipation from political bondage but also equal distribution of wealth, abolition of caste barriers and social inequalities and destruction of communalism and religious intolerance.” He wanted that the privileges of landlords, capitalists and higher classes in society to be reduced. He said, “Free India will not be a land of capitalists, landlords and castes. Free India will be a social and political democracy…. a reign of perfect equality, social, economic and political” shall prevail in Free India.
The writers are associated with the Neotia Institute of Technology, Management and Science.