Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Birth of Rebellion

World War II was a singular phase in the history of colonialism. While the imperial powers waged many battles against indigenous peoples in the name of "the white man's burden," this time they were faced with a imperial enemies so powerful that the very order of the world was on the verge of collapse.

The Opponents
In Europe, Nazi Germany had all but vanquished the old European powers, now wreaking havoc upon the Jewish population there. After the fall of Paris, Great Britain was left the only imperial power in Europe, even as Nazi Germany conquered territories in Northern Africa. In the Far East, Hitler's ally, Imperial Japan, had occupied all of Manchuria and Korea and was not moving further to colonize Southeast Asia. With a ferocity never seen before in this part of the world, Japan occupied Malaysia, Singapore and finally Burma. And then came the biggest prize of all: British India.

However, even before he break out of hostilities in Asia, the Japanese were looking to push the British out and had established intelligence contacts for that. But who would lead the campaign?

The Coming of Bose
Subhash Chandra Bose was ousted as President of the Indian National Congress by Mahatma Gandhi for his call to arms against the British. He escaped his house arrest and made his way to Nazi Germany, where he met Hitler. In the further course of events, he used a U-Boat to reach the lands of Malaya, now occupied by Imperial Japan. The lighting conquest of Malaya and Singapore alone had yielded well over 100,000 Indian PoWs for Japan, but they refused to fight with Japan unless they were led by Bose.

And thus was formed the second Indian National Army, the primary military opponent to British India during WW2. After the Burma campaign, during which the joint Japanese-INA forces brought down Burma, Bose set his sights on British India. At Kohima, he established the provision Government of Free India. It was a difficult war for the British-Indian soldiers.

The Fall
However, with the coming of America into WW2, the tide reversed for Japan, which eventually lost all its Asian possessions and came under American Occupation. After the failed INA campaign, a large number of soldiers were arrested by the British. It was decided that they would be tried in courts martial. Bose dies under mysterious circumstances, but his loyal soldiers remained.

The INA Trials were to be a fitting response to aggressors against the Lord King of Great Britain. They were to be a symbol of eternal glory for the mightiest empire in the world. Instead, they became the stepping stones of the destruction of the British Empire in India.

Next: The Trials

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