By Thai Newsroom reporters
STEPPING back to the past was a large crowd of Thais and Indians who had gathered at the Thai Bharat Cultural Lodge over the weekend to mark the 125th birth anniversary Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose who had started the Indian National Army right here in Thailand during World War II as well as the start of 75 weeks of celebrations to mark India’s 75th year of independence on August 15, 2022.
Indian Ambassador Suchitra Durai said in her speech that Netaji Subhas’ activities in Thailand are not very well known and among the few books that have shed light on this important chapter of India’s fight for freedom is one written by a British journalist Roger Beaumont based on the recollections of late Mr. Darshan Singh Bajaj who was the assistant supply officer for this army, with this being a vital role in the scarcity-hit war years. Published two decades ago it is entitled “The Hidden Truth.”
The Indian National Army, alongside Japanese troops, advanced to Rangoon (Yangon) and captured Andaman and Nicobar islands. The troops then marched overland into India, reaching Indian soil on March 18, 1944, and moving into Kohima and the plains of Imphal. In a stubborn battle, the mixed Indian and Japanese forces, lacking Japanese air support, were defeated and forced to retreat.
Ambassador Durai mentioned that Cambridge-educated Netaji Subhas had come to Thailand at least seven times during 1943-1945. He had met Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram and donated 500,000 baht each for the Thai public health and education ministries as well as 100,000 baht for Thai Bharat Cultural Lodge.
She also mentioned that during the retreat through Burma Netaji Subhas marched on foot along with his troops. When offered a vehicle to travel in, he refused a ride pointing out that if his men were marching with 20-kilogramme packs on their backs, he too should be marching, despite the blisters he had suffered.
In commemoration of Netaji Subhas’ heroic and courageous fight for India’s independence, the Indian government this year announced that his birth anniversary on January 23, which this year is the 125th year, would be celebrated as “Parakram Diwas” — day of courage — every year.
With the 75 weeks of celebrations to mark India’s independence having been rolled out, Ambassador Durai said to commemorate this event the Indian constitution was translated to Thai and presented to Parliament President Chuan Leekpai.
Lodge Vice President Mr. Raj Matta and Secretary Mr. Rakesh Kumar Mattakhun gave speeches highlighting the lodge’s role in promoting Thai-Indian relations. Prominent Thais too gave speeches at this function including the lodge’s President Asst. Prof. Chirap Prapanvidya, Assoc. Prof. Sawitree Jharoenpong from Chulalongkorn University and former education minister Dr Therakiat Charoensettarin.
There was also a play performed by Thais and Indians with one performer dressed as Netaji Subhas giving a speech just as he would himself have done during the struggle for India’s independence.
Top: Netaji Subhas surrounded by his followers during World War II. Photo: DNA India
First below: A file photo of Netaji Subash published by India Today.
Second below: Ambassador Durai, centre, together with some of the participants at this key event.
Home Page: Ambassador Durai giving a speech at Thai Bharat Cultural Lodge to mark 125th birth anniversary Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.