Activities

NSF PROGRAMME ON 8th JUNE 2011

Venue: Nehru Centre 8, South Audley Street London W 1K 1 HF
The nearest tube stations are Green Park, Hyde Park Corner and
Bond StreetThe meeting will be Chaired by Sujit Bhattacharjee, Chair of The Tagoreans.

06.40 – Welcome by Suhas Khale – Chair NSF

06.45 – Introduction by the Chair

06.50 – Opening song

06.55 “Bose and Tagore “ by Prof. Tapan Raychaudhuri

07.10 – Q & A
07.25 – Song

07.30 – Vote of Thanks by Mitali Chaudhury

07.35 – Close

AT THE NEHRU CENTRE WED 02 July, 2008,  6.30 pm

Anniversary Lecture of Netaji Subhas Foundation
Symposium :India Today and Netaji’s Vision

Summary Points

Netaji was a revolutionary leader with a vision for development of India.The speaker will cover the following points in his presentation.

Subhas Bose and how he evolved his vision; what was that vision and how much realistic it was. A thumbnail sketch of India today, its problrms and challenges and how far it is from his vision. Why did it happen that way. What would be Netaji’s explanation for that. Will it be possible to rectify the situation? Which ideas of
Netaji are applicable today? What could be the methods of application?
Speaker: Pradip Bose

Pradip Bose is a Writer,Journalist and Political Activist.
He is “President of Indian Centre for Democratic Socialism ” in New Delhi and writer of the following books:

1. Subhas Bose & India Today
2. Social Democracy in Practice – Socialist International 1951/2001
3. Communism & Communist Systems- Some Reflections

He has done extensive research on Subhas Bose which is available on NSF website http://www.nsfoundation.org.uk under
Subhas Bose- His Life , Work & Ideas

Chair : Suhas Khale, Chair of Netaji Subhas Foundation

 

Meeting on 8th July 2005 at 7.00 pm
The Nehru Centre, High Commission of India, 8 South Audley Street, Mayfair, London W1K 1HF
Topic to discuss: Indo-British Relationship – Current & Future
The memorial lecture for Netaji will be given by Dr. Ashok Kumar M.P. on 8th July 2005.The lecture is expected to provide better understanding of the current Indo- British relationship. Dr. Kumar will present a realistic picture of the current relationship and identify how we can strengthen the bond for the future. The lecture will be for half an hour and then there will be an open forum of question and answers and interactions with the audience.
Dr. Ashok Kumar M. P.
Member for Langbaurgh 1991 – 1992 (by-election) , and for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland since 1 May 1997 general election
Parliamentary Career
Parliamentary Private Secretary to Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn, Secretary of State, Department for International Development (2003- ). Member of Trade and Industry Select Committee (2001-2003). Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group for the Chemical Industry (2000-2003). Member of Science & Technology Select Committee (1997-2001). Board Member of Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). Member of Parliamentary Scientific Committee, Vice-Chair of Parliamentary Group for Energy Studies, Chair of Northern Group of Labour MPs, Member of Parliamentary Labour Party Trade and Industry Committee, Member of Parliamentary Labour Party Treasury Committee, Parliamentary Labour Party Education and Employment Committee.
Report on NSF Meeting on 8th July 2005 at the Nehru Centre, London

The Netaji Subhash Foundation meeting on 8th July at Nehru Centre was reasonably well attended despite the bomb blasts.
Suhas Khale the Convenor of NSF welcomed the audience & the Chair for their courage in attending after the blasts and praised the Speaker for delivering the lecture as planned and forgoing his celebration at India House. He thanked the Nehru Centre for their cooperation over the years for enabling the NSF to hold their annual event. He condemned the bombing by the terrorists and killing of innocent civilians and pointed out that it affected people of all religions, age, races and was an act of criminals. He talked about the completion of Project work of putting about 200 pages about Subhash Bose ‘s life on the NSF website . He also informed the audience that NSF was going to work to try and show the film produced about Netaji by Sham Benegal. He then paid tribute to Reba Sen (Mrs. Sengupta), who passed away a few weeks ago. She was a member of Rani Jhansi regiment of INA and spoke about her experiences last year at the NSF meeting. One minutes silence was observed in her memory.

Dr Ashok Kumar who delivered the Netaji Memorial Lecture is currently PPS to Hilary Benn Minister of state, Department for International Development The theme for the lecture was:Indo-British Relationship – Current & Future. He spoke of the contribution of Subhash Bose to the Indian independence movement and his fight against the British Imperialism.He pointed out that the progressive Labour Party leaders had supported the cause of Indian independence and how the Indo-British relationship have been intricately mixed. He then expounded how globalisation and fast changing economic situation has influenced the world political and economic scene and emergence of India and China as the upcoming powers. He referred to WTO and World Trade issues like Debt, Aid etc. and the role of the Labour Party and its leaders. He expressed that hope that the Indian Government like the Labour Party in Britain will use the market changing conditions to achieve economic prosperity but with a plus of improving the social conditions of people in the country.

Programme Structure
Start Time 7 p.m.
7.10 Welcome & Introduction Suhas Khale
7.10 – 7.30 Indo British Relations Crrent & Future – Dr. Ashok Kumar
7.30 – 7.35 Chair’s Summary
7.35 – 8.00 Q & A session with audience
Points To Speak on 8th July
1. Welcome with a change of format from the Birthday Celebration to Memorial Lecture.
2. NSF Project & Website – research work has been done and 200 pages are on the website http://www.nsfoundation.org.uk I.S. Gupta & his cousin plus research work done by Pradip and Website work done by Sangeeta Ghosh
3. Subhash Bose & Britain
Why this lecture when Subhash was portrayed as anti-British
Anti- imperialist 11995 British Television 50 min, documentary “ Enemy of the Empire “
Enemy of the empire not British people and supporter of the British working class. He admired British life. Level of tolerance in the British Society and above the British Democracy. In 1938 he attended a reception given to him by the Labour Party where Clement Attlee & Ernest Bevin were present and also had a meeting with the Irish revolutionary and Prime Minister Eamon de Valera.
It is all l the more important to talk about Indo British relationship at the memorial lecture of Subhash Bose.
4. Introduce Ashok
Currently PPS to Hilary Benn, Minister of State, Department for International Development, Dr Ashok Kumar worked as a Research Scientist after obtaining a Doctorate in Fluid Mechanics from Aston University. Member of Parliament for Langbrough from November 1991-April 1992 and then for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland since May 1997 till today. He has been on various Labour Party Committees including Trade & Industry, Treasury & Education and Employment. A great fan of Subhash Bose, he will speak on the current Indo-British relationship and identify how we can strengthen the bond for the future.
5. Introduce Pradip
Pradip Bose is a political journalists and author of several books, including Subhash Bose & India Today. He was active in the Indian Socialist movements. He.is the founder- General Secretary of the Indian Centre for Democratic Socialist in New Delhi.and is now its President.
6. Thank Nehru Centre, Ashok & Pradip
7. Mrs. Reba Sengupta –sad demise , one minute silence.

There were very interesting comments and questions from the audience before the meeting was closed.

Suhas Khale
12th July 2005

Meeting on 24th April 2004 at 2.30 pm
A joint meeting has been organised by the NSF & Tagore Centre at the Tagore Centre premises on
Saturday 24th April at 2.30 p.m. at the following address.
For further details contact Dr. Kundu Tel No. 8444 6751.
Tagore Centre
Alexandra Park Library, Alexandra Park Road
London N.22 4UJ.

The subject is ” Subhash Chandra Bose & his relationship with Rabindranath Tagore”
and the speaker is Mihir Bose.

Profile of Mihir Bose

Mihir Bose is a noted journalist who has worked with “The Daily Telegraph”for a number of years. He reportsregularly on Sports, Politics & Business.Many a cricket lovers would recollect his exciting and interesting reports on cricket matches. He has written over 20 books on various subjects. In 1982 he published a biography of Subhash Chandra Bose called “The Lost Hero”. This was the first full length biography of Netaji using all the then available archival material. He is about to publish a revised version of this book using freshly declassified documents, which so far have not been seen in public His motivation for writing about Netaji was that people at large should know about Netaji’s contribution to the Indian struggle for independence and to put across his ideas and work in the context of modern.
Feed Back:
—– Original Message —–
From: Joe Nathan
To: Suhas Khale
Sent: Sunday, April 25, 2004 12:48 PM
Subject: Re: Tagore Centre Meeting

Hi Suhas!
Sorry I had to leave in a hurry for another meeting and I apologise for not having taken your leave! Please could you give me the auspices under which the meeting was held? .I know the Netaji Foundation was involved, but what is the name of the gentleman who took over from you and what is his organisation?.I regretted not having brought some copies of Confluence for distribution.It would have gone down well considering that the lead story was about Netaji himself.But if you give me this gentleman’s contact number I could send him some copies for distribution to his members.

Shall certainly send you a copy when it is ready with yesterday’s event portrayed in the way it deserves. This will be in the first/second week of May.Sorry I don’t have a website yet – it is something I need to get down to right away.You are to be congratulated for organising this really superb and totally absorbing event.It deserves a far wider audience and perhaps Confluence might compensate with its next edition. Mihir was indeed the right man and no one else could have done it better – not even Amartya Sen!
Thank you and regards
Joe

20th February 2004
A discussion to commemorate Netaji’s birth anniversary
Proposed topic: Womens’ Equality in South Asia
The Nehru Centre, High Commission of India, 8 South Audley Street, Mayfair, London W1K 1HF
Madhuri Bose (Chair / Moderator) :
Madhuri Bose: Rights Specialist & Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London
Supriya Sengupta (Speaker 1)
Supriya was a Member of Rani Jhansi Regiment of Azad Hind Fauj (INA) in Burma from early 1943 for 1.5 years. She will speak about her personal experiences of working in the women’s regiment, Netaji as a leader with special emphasis on his approach to equality of women.
Baroness Uddin (Speaker 2)
Baroness Uddin has been a life peer at the House of Lords since 1998. She is a former local government councilor and leader of Tower Hamlets Council. During her eight years in office she led in policy development, finance, education and social services. As a member of Parliament she has continued her work in these areas, including focusing on women, race and disability issues. She also acts as advisor to government departments on community relations and moslem women
Rahila Gupta (Speaker 3)
Rahila is a political activist and writer. She has been a member of Southall Black Sisters since 1989. She is a freelance journalist who has written for a range of national and international newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian. She has written radio drama for the BBC and is currently a writer-in-residence at Bromley by Bow Centre. She has contributed polemical essays, short stories and poems to many anthologies, co-edited Flaming Spirit, a collection of short stories by Asian women, with Rukhsana Ahmad and has co-written the auto/biography of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, Circle of Light, a battered woman who was driven to kill her violent husband. She has edited a collection of political essays, From Homebreakers to Jailbreakers, to be published by Zed Press in November 2003.

Short Summary of NSF Meeting on 20th February 2004
Reba Sen ( married name Supriya Sengupta) narrated her experiences of Rani Jhansi regiment in the INA of Subhash Bose. She pointed out how women were treated as equals and respected in the INA. She also said that Subhash Bose worked closely with all the people in the army and ate the same food as that was given to the soldiersand in the same canteen where they ate.
Rahila Gupta spoke about oppression of women in the UK Diaspora, in particular about Domestic Violence. She explained the work done by Southhall Black Sisters in this field and gave examples of two women Krishna Sharma who was driven to suicide and Kiranjit Ahluwalia who was imprisoned for setting her husband alight after suffering brutality at his hands for a number of years. She pointed out hat introduction of the Human Rights Act in 2000 gave women a new language and tools with which to fight for added protection. She said that we need to develop a culture with strong sanctions against interpersonal violence, where women have economic power and autonomy within and outside the home where the definition of masculinity is not linked to male dominance or honour and where there is equality of decision making and resources within the family.
Mihir Bose explained his motivation for writing about Subhash was that people at large should know more about the history and events of the period in which he lived as well as his contribution to the Indian struggle for independence. He also pointed out that it was important to understand his vision for India and South Asia . He said that we should not harp about the mystery of his death but try to understand what he was trying to achieve and put into action his ideas and work in the modern political, economic and social framework.
Suhas Khale
26th February 2004
Women’s Equality in the Diaspora
Nehru Centre – 20 Feb 2004
I will be looking at the changing position of Asian women in Britain mainly through the prism of Southall Black Sisters activism. During this time, I think it is fair to say that we have spearheaded some of the most important campaigns in the recent history of Asian women and marked out the boundaries of the battleground. That ground has been very muddy indeed – race, gender and poverty have continually eroded it.
In common with many black women who are politically active in Britain, I came to an awareness of feminist politics through my involvement initially with anti-racist struggles. That personal journey encapsulates in many ways the central theme of my talk tonight – that Asian women in the diaspora have had to fight for both racial and sexual equality and the two struggles are not separate but inextricably linked and sometimes in very unexpected ways. We have found again and again that if either struggle is waged alone, the other is in danger of being compromised.
This dual allegiance is specific to minority women, wherever they are. The women who came together to form Southall Black Sisters in 1979 had been active in anti-racist struggles too. They had stood shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the Southall community, facing the police baton and the charge of police horses as they demonstrated against that infamous meeting of the National Front in Southall Town hall. The women had been part of the defence committee that was set up soon after to ensure that justice was handed out to the young men arrested on a variety of charges. However, when a few months later Mrs Dhillon and her five daughters were burnt down by her violent husband and those same women asked for the support of their male comrades against domestic violence, they were turned down. The men said that we shouldn’t be washing our dirty linen in public, that we would attract a racist response from the white community who would see this as typical of the backwardness of minorities. In fact, we faced a greater backlash from self-appointed conservative male leaders of the Asian communities. This is why our book (which is available for sale downstairs) is called, From Homebreakers to Jailbreakers. Because the first epithet was hurled against us as a term of abuse, but we are proud to wear both labels if it means protecting women from community and state injustice.
Somehow violence at home wasn’t as important as violence on the streets, a woman’s life not as important as a man’s – an attitude which was shared by the police and the state until recently. However, at this very moment, there is historic legislation going through Parliament – a bill on domestic violence – which has its weaknesses but nevertheless it indicates the seismic shift in attitudes.
Of course our communities have become much more sensitised to the issue of domestic violence. We have put domestic violence on the agenda. We made it our priority. We marched through the streets of Southall to draw attention to the case of Krishna Sharma who was driven to suicide by her husband and in-laws in 1984. We borrowed tactics from the Indian women’s movement when we stood outside her in-laws’ house and chanted, They say it’s suicide: We say it’s murder, reaching the parts of Asian society that no other kind of campaigning reaches – hitting the ‘H’ spot – HONOUR, izzat, that which is vulnerable to what the neighbours will say.
Similarly our campaign on Kiranjit Ahluwalia hit the television screens and made her a household name. She had set her husband alight in 1989 after having suffered his brutality for 10 years. When she was released on appeal in 1992, her case made legal history. It led to a significant relaxation in the way the law of provocation had been interpreted until that time, allowing the courts to take into account the cumulative provocation that a battered woman suffers. As far as I am aware that was the first time that a campaign by black women led to a change that was to benefit all women.
As this example shows, the state can play a role in protecting women and giving them enhanced rights. We have had a somewhat ambivalent relationship with the state. We had always imagined ourselves to exist outside of it and our interests to be opposed to it although as an organisation we relied on the state for funding to carry out our welfare and advice services. For 17 years we had lived in the shadow of Thatcherism. But today we look for points at which to intervene and influence policy and to demand protection from the state. The introduction of the Human Rights Act in 2000 gave us a new language and tools with which to fight for added protection for women. However, we have found that every time we make a demand for the rights of minority women as in the case of forced marriage, the state responds with racist immigration changes that affect the whole community.
We have had to negotiate a path through the minefield of race and gender carefully. It would be quite easy for us to help or encourage a woman who wants to escape a violent marriage to deport her husband if his immigration status is insecure or dependent on hers. Many women would like us to do just that. But for us it has been an issue of principle that we will not use legislation that is racist in order to advance our own agenda.
There has also been a worrying trend in conflating race with religion, of seeing racial and religious identities as interchangeable. But gender mediated by race is one thing and gender mediated by religion quite another. A major threat to the position of women, especially since the early 90s, has come from the rise of religious fundamentalism. Which relies on the control of women’s minds and bodies for the success of its project. We set up Women Against Fundamentalism in 1990, a diverse group of women from Ireland, Israel, Iraq, the Indian subcontinent and Britain to make the connections between all religious fundamentalisms be they Hindu, Muslim, Catholic or Jewish – because they are all equally pernicious. This remains an important political point because since the days of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and in the post 9/11 period, a growing Islamaphobia has eclipsed the extremism of other religions. We only have to look to Gujarat or Palestine to see how dangerous that can be.
Change is by its very nature uneven. More Asian women are entering the professions and are becoming empowered to live independent lives. The statistics show that Asian women are better educated than white women but there is a higher rate of unemployment and of women in part-time, shift work. This may be attributable to racism, sexism and cultural pressures preventing women from entering the job market. Also, let us not forget that the rate of suicide among Asian women is two and a half times higher than in the wider community.
How we are viewed both by our own communities and society at large is also changing. In the seventies and eighties the overriding stereotype of Asian women was one of passive victim. The famous Grunwick strike in the late 70s that was led by a determined Asian woman, Jayaben Desai went a long way to overturn the stereotype of Asian women. There has been a remarkable tradition of trade union struggles sustained and fought by Asian women, whether it was for union recognition or against privatisation. There is also a thriving sector of advice, welfare and refuge provision run by Asian women. Although – organisations working for political change are few and far between.
We need to develop a culture with strong sanctions against interpersonal violence, where women have economic power and autonomy within and outside the home, where the definition of masculinity is not linked to male dominance or honour and where there is equality of decision making and resources within the family. We have made much progress. We still have a long way to go. Every time we hear of a case like that of Shafilea Ahmed, the young woman who disappeared in mysterious circumstances and whose body may now have been found, who may or may not have been the victim of an honour killing – we have to accept with humility the magnitude of the task in hand.
Activities 2000 – 2002
Film Show on Subhas Bose – 2000
In the process of its formation at the end of 1999 the NSF had organised a film evening on Netaji where Enemy of Empire produced by Charles Bruce of the BBC was shown. Charles Bruce said that “No film can really capture everything in such a life. It was lived on a grand scale. But he hoped that something of the epic quality of the man and his passionate quest for India’s freedom is captured in this film”. The film was judged to be quite balanced in its portrayal of the momentous years of Indian history, and the role Subhas played in it.
Race & Gender Equality – November 2000
The concept of Equality (gender, caste, race, creed & religion) is a significant one globally and an important one for the NSF. Denise McGuire who is a President of CONNECT and Roland Biosa, a Black Trade Unionist leader, were the speakers who addressed the NSF meeting on 17th November 2000. They spoke respectively on Gender equality and Race equality issues.
Denise explained the development and progress made in achieving equality of opportunity for women in the various fields with specific reference to the Employment sector and pointed out that the struggle for equal pay and equality of opportunity in employment for women in the UK is being continued by Women’s organisations and Trade Unions. She also emphasised the need to support similar organisations fighting in the South Asia.
Roland spoke about the history of racial discrimination throughout the imperial history and struggle by the individuals. Referring to Stephen Lawrence inquiry he emphasised the need for fighting Institutional racism within UK. Narrating some examples of racial discrimination in promotion in employment and within the Trade Unions, he said that black / Asian organisations need to give high profile to the race discrimination issue along with their cultural activities so that greater awareness can be created amongst the Black and Ethnic Minorities.
There was some lively discussion on the issues/ questions raised by the attendees.
Seminar on Subhas Chandra Bose – January 2001
The first major event organised by the NSF in collaboration with The Nehru Centre, the cultural wing of the Indian High Commission in London, was a seminar on “Netaji’s Ideology and Work and their Relevance Today” on 24 March 2000 in London. This was the first major meeting on Netaji in London that sought to examine his thoughts and role in the independence movement in relation to India today.
The three speakers at the very well attended function were the distinguished historian Tapan Raychoudhuri, Emeritus Fellow of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University; Anita Bose Pfaff, University of Augsburg (Germany) and daughter of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose; and Salil Tripathy, a political journalist who has done extensive research in Singapore on the impact of the INA in the 1940s in South East Asia. The speakers dealt with the implications of Netaji’s thoughts in contemporary India, and in the context of the revival of communal and ethnic radicalism, a decline in political morals and values, and the increasing strains on the relations among the countries of the Indian sub-continent.
Tapan Raychaudhuri spoke of the paramount importance of secularism and Netaji’s total commitment to it. He argued that in the current political and social climate Netaji’s ideology is of critical relevance.
Anita Pfaff sketched some of Netaji’s personality traits and said that Netaji was a deeply spiritual and a moral man, but that in no way contradicted his tolerance of other religions or cultures. Netaji was also a very modern man and sought social transformation in many different aspects including the promotion of gender equality and egalitarianism. Netaji was also one of the first to think of economic planning, and while there is today more need for pragmatism than ideology, the importance of planning emphasised by Netaji remains valid.
Salil Tripathi, addressed the motivations of lay persons in Singapore who decided to support the INA. He mentioned many interesting individual anecdotes which helped to illustrate the very different reactions of the persons concerned. He pointed out that the commemoration of the INA in 1995 with the unveiling of a plaque in Singapore showed that Singaporeans were finally coming to recognise those momentous events of the first half of the 1940s as part of their own history.
Indian political situation today – 2001
Pradip Bose a noted Indian Journalist and Politician who has written a book about Netaji gave a talk in July on “ Indian situation today & relevance of Netaji’s ideology ”. Pradip commented on issues like poverty, equality, India & Pakistan conflict, political situation in India, need for sound economic planning etc. and clearly demonstrated how Netaji.s thinking, vision, and pragmatic approach many years ago was relevant today to provide solutions to the modern problems of India and South Asia as a whole.
Seminar on Healthcare Planning – 2001
A lecture by Professor Anita Pfaff of the University of Augsburg, Germany on “Cross-national comparison of healthcare systems and their implications for India” on 15 March 2001 in London. Professor Pfaff, daughter of Subhas Chandra Bose, had recently returned from a visit to India where she had an opportunity to meet and discuss with a wide cross-section of people.
The meeting was chaired by the NSF Convenor Suhas Khale. The audience mainly included persons from the countries of South Asia. The chairperson opened the meeting by introducing Dr Pfaff and thanking the NSF Steering Committee Members for organising the meeting.
Referring to her father’s vision of independent India, Dr Pfaff said: Looking at Netaji’s goals and ideals, we can say that his overall concern with empowerment, emancipation and essentially an egalitarian society i.e. one based on socialist orientation, would imply a healthcare which provides universal coverage, redistribution as regards financing, and inclusiveness in terms of social groups and regions. She noted that in principle the welfare regime introduced by Bismarck in Germany in the 1880s and the Beveridge type operating in the UK since the Second World War can be said to incorporate these aspects. She admitted that there are significant differences in the demographic and economic situations in India today as compared to Germany or the United Kingdom. However some useful lessons could still be drawn from their experiences for developing a comprehensive healthcare system in India today.
Dr Pfaff emphasised the critical importance of healthcare as part of human resource development, and that effective healthcare provision improves “human capital” with its positive implications for the economy and society as a whole. She drew attention to the factors underlying improvements in general health which have been more due to prevention of disease rather than because of better treatment including improvements in hygiene, knowledge about infection, better nutrition, improvements in sanitation and housing and safety measures at work.
For India Dr Pfaff supported a policy of publicly financed “minimum healthcare” aimed at more universal coverage. A scheme drawing on the Bismarckian social security system could be developed for the working classes, and for the more well-to-do company plans and private insurances could be introduced. Finally such a system had to be coordinated with the many grassroots health initiatives to give India an effective and comprehensive healthcare system.
South Asian Co-operation – February 2002
This discussion was about greater co-operation in South Asia and distinguished speakers from India, Pakistan & Bangladesh were invited.
NSF convenor Suhas Khale linked the growth of terrorism with prevailing economic conditions. “The root cause is poverty,” he argued. It was important to “fight the influence of the multinational companies” through a “greater co-operation of nations” in South Asia.
Madhuri Bose, one of the founders of the NSF addressed the issues of religious intolerance and communal hatred. “Communalism will only go when the mentality behind it goes,” she said. What was needed was the “genuinely nationalist outlook” of Netaji. He was “passionately committed” to a “just society” and he “never believed Partition would help either Hindus or Muslims”. Ms Bose delved further into the 1940s, quoting Sarat Chandra Bose on the communal violence of the time, before making the idealistic leap forward to a future of “New-Worldism”, where there would be “no frontiers, no classes and no races.”
Farooq Sobhan, the Bangladeshi former diplomat who held the post of High Commissioner to Delhi between 1992 and 1995, took Dr Taylor’s reference to SAARC as his starting point. The forum’s history, he told us, went back 22 years “to January 1980, when I presented the first conference paper on regional cooperation, suggesting the need for SAARC, or something like it.” It had been a “pretty bumpy ride since the first SAARC summit in Dhaka,” he commented. There were always difficulties in “convincing India and Pakistan that this was the way forward.” From the outset, there was “suspicion” and doubt that “regional co-operation was ever going to work.” However, the smaller nations were “great believers”. Farooq Sobhan further argued that such economic union should operate within the context of a Free Trade Area. “Crucial,” he said, was the “willingness of India to open her markets to smaller nations.” A “change of heart” was needed from India in this respect. “Another critical factor is the Indo-Pak problem.
Dr Gautam Sen of the London School of Economics is an advisor on economic affairs to the Indian Government. A somewhat nervous speaker, he began by expressing his pleasure at being invited to participate on this occasion. “My grandfather served two years in goal by virtue
of his association with Netaji,” he said. Getting into his stride, Dr Sen spoke of the “economic benefits of regional cooperation.” It would give the region a “stronger bargaining position” and “foreign exchange could be channeled into development.” He contrasted this bright prospect with the present reality of threatened conflict.
Professor Wasim of Pakistan cast a plague on both houses. India and Pakistan each made different interpretations of each other’s national positions. There were attempts to rewrite history in both and now the two were “much further apart than they ever have been since 1947.” Yet, there was hope. Pakistan’s foreign policy was, he asserted, “made in Delhi.” The conflict was a battle between two “establishments.” “Pressure from inside and from the youth,” would change things.
Kashmir – August 2002
Victoria Schofield author of the book “Kashmir in Conflict” spoke about the “Feasible Solutions to Kashmir”. There was lively discussion and debate covering the international aspects of Kashmir issue.
Subhas Chandra Bose: His Vision of Independent India, February 2003
The 2003 Annual Netaji Birth Celebration in London to mark his 106th birthday took place at the Nehru Centre, the Cultural Wing of the High Commission of India on 13 February 2003 at 18.45 hours. Since the founding year of the NSF in 2000 this annual event has taken place in collaboration with the Nehru Centre. H.E. Ronen Sen High Commissioner for India was present as Chief Guest at the function. Mr Girish Karnad, Director of The Nehru Centre welcomed the speakers and guests.
Suhas Khale, Convenor of the Netaji Subhas Foundation, emphasized at the outset the principal focus of the Organisation which is not only to celebrate the life of a great Indian statesman but much more importantly to address his vision for a new India, and to explore the extent to which his ideology remains valid. Mr Khale noted that NSF had often been approached by interested scholars and members of the public for the writings and works of Subhas Bose, which unfortunately were not easily available. NSF had therefore embarked on an effort to collect materials both written and audio-visual by and on Bose.
H.E. Ronen Sen paid tribute to a ‘truly extraordinary man’. Subhas was not only a great patriot but arguably the most colourful leader of the freedom movement who fired the imagination of the Indian people. Subhas was also a pioneer in many fields. Very early on Subhas had spelled out his vision for independent India free of all forms of inequities, and many of his ideas later found place in the Constitution of India. Interestingly Subhas had also played a key role in the choice of the Indian National Anthem.
The highlight of the meeting was Colonel Hugh Toye’s much revised edition of his book Subhas Chandra Bose: The Springing Tiger which was first published in 1959. It was one of the first detailed biographies of Subhas written by a person who had first-hand experience of the INA in East Asia as a British intelligence officer during the Second World War. Unfortunately Col Hugh Toye who was to be present in person was advised not to travel to London from Oxford due to ill health. Madhuri Bose, Rights Specialist and member of the Steering Committee of the NSF, was asked to introduce the book and read some of the yet unpublished extracts from the book. She noted with appreciation that the author had given her the authority to freely select passages, which she had sought to do not only with an eye to what was interesting but also with objectivity. Ms Bose said in the words of Toye : ‘By the magnitude and humanity of his dream, by the example of burning energy, tenacity and personal force, of the tradition he left of sacrificial patriotism, must be measured the stature of Subhas Chandra Bose. Had he survived he would assuredly have exercised massive influence. What he might have done has not been done.’ In summing up Ms Bose said that in Toye’s view Bose was not a man without any flaws, but his assessment of the man Bose and his life ‘from behind the enemy lines as it were’ was praise indeed.
Professor Tapan Raychaudhuri, distinguished historian and an authority on South Asia, has known Col Toye since the 1970s when he came to teach at Oxford. Prof Raychaudhuri said that in investigating the INA in the 1940s Toye had fallen into a ‘reverential love’ with the image of Subhas Chandra Bose. Toye was one of the first intellectuals in the West who saw Bose as he really was – not as a fascist but as a man who represented a pure brand of patriotism. In analysing the relevance of Bose in contemporary India, Raychaudhuri noted that popular memory both inside and outside India centered on the role of the INA which obscured Bose’s great and abiding contribution to the development of Indian nationhood. Bose’s creed of uncompromising and unquestioning nationalism was the keynote of his life. Understandably due to the distortion and abuse of nationalism in many parts of the world, nationalist ideology was no longer considered a highpoint towards a better world. The Indian experience of nationalism, which he called a ‘prominent secular religion’, with its extraordinary individuals as leaders, was a classic example of that ideology triumphing over many obstacles. He regretted that such nationalism was almost dead today. There was danger in this as it was inimical to social and economic progress, and in times of crisis it could frustrate an adequate response to any given challenge, and even engender an alternative ideology which may threaten Indian unity. Raychaudhuri argued that Subhas’s life and works were of crucial relevance in that context. Among the leaders of India it was only Subhas who saw Indian independence as of paramount importance. His break with Gandhi was not so much as a result of ideological differences but rather his impatience with Gandhi’s willingness to wait and compromise with the imperialists at least in the short term. In the current Indian context of fanatical communal intolerance Bose’s relevance was supreme. His patriotic commitment provided a striking example of secularism in action. Though Bose was a deeply religious person, and in his youth had embarked on a personal spiritual journey, it had never interfered with his self-appointed task of fostering Indian nationhood. The strategy that he advocated was of a united people accepting all aspects of different communities, faith and regional cultures. He was an agnostic and a realist in addressing socio-economic problems and the achievement of a decent standard of living for the people. The INA drawn from all communities in India, and rejecting all forms of gender discrimination, was the ultimate triumph of his nationalist vision, which rejected communal hatred in all its forms. Raychaudhuri concluded by saying that Subhas’s vision envisaged a united Indian nation, with equal respect for all its many ethnic components, a vision of moral and material progress based on rational strategies. It was an impassioned vision which the Indian people today need to revisit again and again.