Honouring the True Heroes
Felicitation of INA Veterans
Colours of Glory Foundation rewarded its members with a unique opportunity to meet the veterans, gallant warriors of the Indian National Army of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the hallowed leader of India’s freedom struggle, on Sunday 20 Oct.2019; when two of them were felicitated by it.
The audience was simply awestruck to watch the ageing veterans, both nonagenarians with one at 97, climb the two flights of stairs up to the auditorium at the Alliance Française! We were left wondering what the source of that vibrant energy was. Our curiosity was soon removed when the veterans spoke!
Being mesmerized, motivated and inspired by Netaji himself was the prime impetus that made Shree Rathinavel and Shree Angusamy, who were both in their early twenties, to join the INA. Signing up at Mandalay, Burma, they moved on to Singapore, where the INA with the added help from the Japanese, simply decimated the British and their allies. A number of Indian soldiers serving under the British walked over to join the INA, humiliating the British further!
I swear we could discern a gleam in their eyes bursting with nationalistic fervour and patriotic pride! To recall the details with such accuracy is in itself a feat and age has not dimmed their passion. The slogan, coined by Netaji, “Freedom is not given, it is taken”, reverberated then and does so even today, as was evident in the speeches during the event.
The audience had a healthy mix of young and old. College and senior school students were witness to an unfolding fragment of history!
The fiery speech made by Ms. Sumathi of S. Foundation in a mix of Tamil and English was so inspiring that she had the audience in raptures. That the nation must shed its colonial hangover and have a fresh look at history untainted by the narrative we have been tutored all along was a theme that ran through the discourses. Veteran officers spoke of the need for the gen next to have a must-will-and-can attitude to take the country forward and how free India’s armed forces are eminently protecting the freedom the INA fought so passionately for.
Emotional anecdotes were shared by Ms. Suma Padmanabhan, an accomplished educationalist, whose father had been an officer of the INA. This was a speech that revealed how passionately patriotic the INA soldiers were and the amazing level of intimacy that their families shared with Netaji. She learned patriotism at her father’s feet, she said, touching a chord.
It was a poignant moment when a family of Netaji’s disciples, lined up to meet the veterans and seek their blessings! Mother, son, his wife and child saluted the veterans with a traditional Indian style Namaskar, by prostrating; a touching and noble gesture that moved every soul in the hall.
The interactive session at the tail end saw a young management guru admitting unabashedly how he found the armed forces officers make the finest leaders in whichever situation they find themselves in with no B School background as such. He was all praise for the unique culture and environment that groom them.
The take away from this splendid event was the fact that the no matter who you are, the undercurrent of patriotism and nationalistic spirit are what makes for a truly “Free Indian”.