(At a rally of Indians in Burma, July 4, 1944)
Friends! Twelve months ago a new programme of ‘total mobilization’ or ‘maximum sacrifice’ was placed before Indians in East Asia. Today I shall give you an account of our achievements during the past year and shall place before you our demands for the coming year. But, before I do so, I want you to realize once again what a golden opportunity we have for winning freedom. The British are engaged in a worldwide struggle and in the course of this struggle they have suffered defeat after defeat on so many fronts. The enemy having been thus considerably weakened, our fight for liberty has become very much easier than it was five years ago. Such a rare and God-given opportunity comes once in a century. That is why we have sworn to fully utilize this opportunity for liberating our motherland from the British yoke.
I am so very hopeful and optimistic about the outcome of our struggle, because I do not rely merely on the efforts of three million Indians in East Asia. There is a gigantic movement going on inside India and millions of our countrymen are prepared for maximum suffering and sacrifice in order to achieve liberty.
Unfortunately, ever since the great fight of 1857, our countrymen are disarmed, whereas the enemy is armed to the teeth. Without arms and without a modern army, it is impossible for a disarmed people to win freedom in this modern age. Through the grace of Providence and through the help of generous Nippon, it has become possible for Indians in East Asia to get arms to build up a modern army. Moreover, Indians in East Asia are united to a man in the endeavour to win freedom, and all the religious and other differences that the British tried to engineer inside India, simply do not exist in East Asia. Consequently, we have now an ideal combination of circumstances favouring the success of our struggle—and all that is wanted is that Indians should themselves come forward to pay the price of liberty. According to the programme of ‘total mobilization’, I demanded of you men, money and materials. Regarding men, I am glad to tell you that I have obtained sufficient recruits already. Recruits have come to us from every corner of East Asia—from China, Japan, Indo–China, Philippines, Java, Borneo, Celebes, Sumatra, Malaya, Thailand and Burma.
You must continue the mobilisation of men, money and materials with greater vigour and energy; in particular, the problem of supplies and transport has to be solved satisfactorily.
We require more men and women of all categories for administration and reconstruction in liberated areas. We must be prepared for a situation in which the enemy will ruthlessly apply the scorched earth policy, before withdrawing from a particular area and will also force the civilian population to evacuate as was attempted in Burma.
The most important of all is the problem of sending reinforcements in men and in supplies to the fighting fronts. If we do not do so, we cannot hope to maintain our success at the fronts. Nor can we hope to penetrate deeper into India.
Those of you who will continue to work on the Home Front should never forget that East Asia – and particularly Burma – form our base for the war of liberation. If this base is not strong, our fighting forces can never be victorious. Remember that this is a ‘total war’ – and not merely a war between two armies. That is why for a full one year I have been laying so much stress on ‘total mobilization’ in the East.
There is another reason why I want you to look after the Home Front properly. During the coming months I and my colleagues on the War Committee of the Cabinet desire to devote our whole attention to the fighting front – and also to the task of working up the revolution inside India. Consequently, we want to be fully assured that the work at the base will go on smoothly and uninterruptedly even in our absence.
Friends, one year ago, when I made certain demands of you, I told you that if you give me ‘total mobilization’, I would give you a ‘second front’. I have redeemed that pledge. The first phase of our campaign is over. Our victorious troops, fighting side by side with Nipponese troops, have pushed back the enemy and are now fighting bravely on the sacred soil of our dear motherland.
Gird up your loins for the task that now lies ahead. I had asked you for men, money and materials. I have got them in generous measure. Now I demand more of you. Men, money and materials cannot by themselves bring victory or freedom. We must have the motive-power that will inspire us to brave deeds and heroic exploits.
It will be a fatal mistake for you to wish to live and see India free simply because victory is now within reach. No one here should have the desire to live to enjoy freedom. A long fight is still in front of us.
We should have but one desire today – the desire to die so that India may live – the desire to face a martyr’s death, so that the path to freedom may be paved with the martyr’s blood.
Friends! My comrades in the War of Liberation! Today I demand of you one thing, above all. I demand of you blood. It is blood alone that can avenge the blood that the enemy has spilt. It is blood alone that can pay the price of freedom.
Give me blood and I promise you freedom.
(Excerpted with permission of Hachette India from Subhas Chandra Bose: The Nationalist and the Commander – What Netaji Did, What Netaji Said edited by Vanitha Ramchandani; Paperback Rs. 195.)