Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter, Anita B Pfaff, has opposed the demand to confer the Bharat Ratna on the iconic freedom fighter now, which she feels is so late. “We have opposed giving Netaji the Bharat Ratna so late. Many people of lesser stature have received the award. It would have been appropriate to confer it to Netaji as one of the first recipients but not now,” she said in an interview.
Incidentally, former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao had proposed to confer Bharat Ratna award on Netaji posthumously, declassified files on Netaji released in 2016 had revealed. Pfaff has welcomed the constitution of a high-level committee to commemorate Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary.
She welcomed the renaming of the Howrah-Kalka Mail after Netaji. Pfaff commented on the difference of opinion on what 23 January should be called. “Two different names have been picked by two different institutions. It will be preferable if they can agree and coordinate”, she said.
She hoped that the attempts to commemorate Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary would change the way his role in India’s history was “reduced to being that man about whose death people have arguments”. Pfaff said that she was convinced that her father died on 18 August 1945, in Taipei. “I hope it will be possible to have an independent DNA test of his remains at Renkoji Temple in Tokyo… hopefully to convince people who believe outlandish theories… It would be wonderful if my father’s remains could be returned to his homeland during the 125th anniversary,” she said.
Subhas Chandra Bose was born on 23 January 1897 (at 12.10 pm) in Cuttack, Orissa Division, Bengal Province, to Prabhavati Dutt Bose and Janakinath Bose, an advocate belonging to a Bengali Kayastha family. He was the ninth in a family of 14 children. His family was well to do.
He was admitted to the Protestant European School (presently Stewart High School) in Cuttack, like his brothers and sisters, in January 1902. He continued his studies at this school which was run by the Baptist Mission up to 1909 and then shifted to the Ravenshaw Collegiate School. After securing the second position in the matriculation examination in 1913, he was admitted to the Presidency College where he studied briefly. He was influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna after reading their works at the age of 16. He felt that his religion was more important than his studies.
In those days, the British in Calcutta often made offensive remarks to the Indians in public places and insulted them openly. This behavior of the British as well as the outbreak of World War I began to influence his thinking.
His nationalistic temperament came to light when he was expelled for assaulting Professor Oaten (who had manhandled some Indian students) for the latter’s anti-India comments. He was expelled although he appealed that he only witnessed the assault and did not actually participate in it. He later joined the Scottish Church College at the University of Calcutta and passed his BA in 1918 in philosophy.