Friday, January 23, 2009

Netaji Subash Chandra Bose - Strategic Thoughts and practices - By Prof. Abul Kalam

Few political personalities of the Indian National Movement have earned so much admiration and laurels for the saga of demonstrated courage, vision and sacrifice and at the same time have been the target of an equal amount of condemnation as Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945), presumably for his arrogance, refusal to compromise and seeming lack of realism. He was one of the most acclaimed heroes fighting for India’s liberation from the yoke of British colonial rule, as a national leader he enjoyed equal status with Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, but to many his personality was most attractive of the three and his reputation in certain area even rivaled that of Gandhi himself. In his manner and political style, in ideology and action, Bose represents a unique phenomenon in India’s national Movement. While Gandhi has been viewed as the father of Indian Awakening, Bose is seen as the father of Indian Revolution.

Yet Bose continues to be little understood. Despite the allegation of his overriding, even prodigious arrogance, his alleged impatience and superficiality, opportunism and adventurism, the story of Bose’s life is of absorbing interest, not only because of his fiery brand of nationalism and his idealism but also because of his political astuteness, and his plan of action for attaining India’s freedom. Some analysis tend to view him as an arch-rebel against the British Raj. Bose, however, humbly called himself ‘the Servant of India’. While British propaganda stigmatized him as ‘an enemy agent’ and a Nazi or a Fascist collaborator, Rabindranath Tagore had once hailed him as the long sought Deliverer of the Bengali Nation, the one who would unite and reawaken the Indian Nation.

The paper examines the strategic blue-print or framework of action of Bose for the liberation of India. It advances the view that, despite the constraints and limitations imposed by the existing frame of national liberation struggle and the colonial surroundings of the time in the realm of world politics, Bose was perhaps the only nationalist leader of the period in the subcontinent who had demonstrated a great deal of understanding of the dynamics of strategy and tactics involved in India’s liberation struggle and made significant contribution to the conceptual appraisal of international relations, which, indeed, brought together a world view very specific to Subhas and his time.

To highlight this view further, the paper is divided into two sections. The first section highlights Bose’s strategic ideas and plan of action for India’s liberation, while the second section examines Bose’s contribution in the arena of international relations as a policy maker.
Bose was a staunch Indian nationalist. As a logical sequel to his patriotic zeal, Bose developed an invincible faith in India’s destiny, and hence took up the case of India’s independence as a spiritual goal and a righteous cause. He was not a believer in any escapist philosophy but a revolutionary who was drawn to politics inspired by the lover of his country and mankind. The deification of India as the mother and the glamour attached to sacrifice for the motherland constituted the main trend of his strategic thought – the ultimate policy ambition- and contributed to the development of his concept of nationalism on the basis of a religious consciousness. India thus featured in his thought not as a mere territory but as a spiritual being, a living thing.

To attain India’s liberation he laid his firm faith on revolutionary struggle, which consisted of two phases, a phase of nationalist struggle against British imperialism and a phase of inter-class struggle against all privileges, distinction and vested interests. Bose was equally of the firm view that no country could win its independence without any sacrifice and without fighting a war. Such a conviction led him to advance a militant strategy of direct action and made him an ardant advocate of revolution, as against Indian National Congress plea for moderation based on constitutional methods. He exhorted all people to be prepared for dharamayuddha, i.e., making sacrifice for a righteous cause, as he viewed patriotism with an added emphasis of religiosity. His strategy of direct action and his emphasis on force and violence for fighting the war of India’s liberation was thus in full accord with his strategic outlook. It was this approach which made him a subject of bitter controversy in the then Indian socio-political life.

Secondly, Bose from his own analysis came to the conclusion that all efforts of the Indian themselves may not be sufficient to expel the British and, therefore, he wanted to rouse international public opinion in favour of India’s liberation movement. He was of the view that India must exploit an opportune international situation and seek foreign help to drive out Britain from India. The Second World War, he thought, provided such an opportune movement he was looking for and afforded him with that moment to organize an army and equip it with arms and ammunition to launch an arms struggle against British rule in India. It was for this reason Bose escaped from India during the war to seek international help so as to fulfil his determination to win India’s freedom.

One may ask, why did Bose postulate such a strategic concept which brought him into confrontation with the Congress hierarchy? He was certain that Britain was unlikely to grant independence to India of its own free will as many in the Congress hierarchy believed. Therefore he thought it appropriate not only to resort to a strategy of violence involving direct action but was also legitimate to seek international assistance in support of his strategy to over throw the British.

It may be mentioned that most of Bose’s contemporary revolutionary leaders, including Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, Tito held the same view as far as their perception of the external enemy was concerned, though direct onslaught by the Axis powers on their territory had left them with little option but to join in the Allied counter-attack on a commonly perceived enemy. In the case of India, Bose had a different perception for unlike China, Vietnam or Yugoslavia, India was not a direct military target of any of the Axis powers.

Bose’s strategic posture would thus appear quite rational, commanding, and superb. Having read Clausewitz and being convinced of the ultimate victory of his mission, he adopted the slogan of total mobilisation for a total war and his battle-cry became Chalo Delhi (To Delhi) in Clausewitzian style of a zero-sum game. Obviously, India, being under British colonial hegemony, was to emerge as the front in the liberation struggle, while the countries of Southeast Asia where his forces temporarily camped , were to appear as the ‘rear areas’ from which the struggle would be spearheaded by mobilizing support of the immigrant population as well as of the foreign powers. Such ideas, though developed independently, were consistent with the revolutionary blue-print of his great revolutionary. Chinese contemporarian, Mao Zedong, ideas which were later further developed by Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap in the course of the Vietnam War.

Indeed in all these spheres, Bose proved to be quite innovative as he sought to mobilize help from what was in essence an ’enemy territory’ and was quite unconventional in nature. His aim was a draft support of a couple of millions of Indian civilians in Southeast Asia and recruit Indian soldiers employed with the British colonial army.

It is true that in the military field Bose had no prior exposure, direct experience or background. He had only relatively small training as a member of the university corps. It was hence suggested that he had an ‘incredible naivete’ in military matters, yet he exacted great loyalty and enjoyed tremendous amount of respect from his adherents and subordinates in the Indian National Army (INA). Somewhat echoing the words of Napoleon, whose undaunting spirit to overcome any hurdle inspired him, he complimented his soldiers by telling them: conduct yourself in a manner so that your countrymen may bless you and posterity may be proud of you. While lamenting the odds confronting his forces in the INA, he could still inspire them with confidence and Napoleonic voice. “I can offer you nothing for the present except hunger, thirst, privation, forced marches and death, but if you follow me, I shall lead you to victory and freedom”. And, again with Napoleonic spirit, while assuring his soldiers that he will be with them in darkness and sunshine, in sorrow and in joy, in suffering and in victory, he was himself tireless, taking little sleep and working far into the night so as to fulfil his promise.

Although a committed revolutionary, Bose was not an anarchist. Nor did he believe in terrorism or violence merely for the sake of it, though he did admire the immense sacrifice rendered by the terrorists for the great cause of India’s independence. So long as he was in the Congress he wanted to see it developed into a mass-based political organization able to articulate and mobilize all the energies of the nation for the attainment of the goal of India’s freedom. Hence he firmly believed that India’s independence was to be won by the develo0pment of the Congress into a parallel government, with each department and instrument of British administration in India to be duplicated by the Congress. He wanted India to be a republic and its future constitution to be republican. Hence he rejected Dominion status as he was concerned that it would merely help the British to perpetuate their imperialist and capitalist interest in India. Indeed, such a stance compelled Gandhi himself, who was inclined to such an idea, to move a resolution in 1929 at the Lahore session of the Congress which defined Congress objective as complete independence.

Bose’s concern, however, was not only freedom or independence. He held a great vision for India’s unity and a plan for free India. He held the view that without obliterating the ingrained and vested evils such as poverty, ignorance, caste system, communalism and other social anachronisms and religious divisiveness, India can hardly be free or can be turned into modern democracy. Caste and communalism must not be allowed to hinder a free and democratic India.

Here begins Bose’s second phase of Indian revolution, the phase of revolutionary construction at home. As part of the second phase of his struggle Bose laid wholehearted faith in socialism, as it could form part of a general strategy of involving the masses in the freedom movement and would help eradicate barriers and distinction based on wealth, caste, sex and religion – all of which must go. Thus, in addition to its pragmatic utility, the humanitarian and egalitarian aspects of socialism had great appeal for Bose. He was in favour of a synthesis and in this, his views were again coloured by national considerations. He was all for social upliftment of women and wanted them to have equality of status with men, but he believed that the latter would never voluntarily concede equality of status. Hence, he felt, that for women there is little option but to struggle to assert their right. He himself created an example to facilitate the liberation of women by setting up the Rani of Jhansi Brigade during the War consisting only of women so that the latter could be prepared to play due role in the liberated independent India.

Bose abhorred the emerging trend of communal politics in India, intentionally well-laid by the alien authorities as in the case of the Catholic-Protestant question in Ireland. He himself sought to bring together the two communal parties, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League, in a joint fight wit the Congress for India’s independence and even suggested to Mohammad Ali Jinnah that in the event of such a joint struggle taking place the latter could become the first Prime Minister of free India. Perhaps in order to accommodate Muslim sentiments, a special session of the Bengal Provincial Conference of the Congress Forward Bloc, founded by Bose, decided on 25 May 1940 at his instance to observe 3 July 1940 as Sirajuddowla Day, in honour of the last independent Nawab of Bengal. But by that time he was already ousted from the Congress itself, which was perhaps a prelude to his removal from the political scene in India and his dream of a united India was belied.

In this context, it maybe recalled that Bose’s election in 1938 as Congress President by Gandhi himself, despite his ideological differences with Bose, was based on the premise that Bose, with his secular approach and his acceptability to the Muslims, would be able to arrest the mounting tide of communalism in India. And once elected he assured the Muslims that they had nothing to fear in the event of India winning her freedom. On the contrary, they have everything to gain. It was only natural that his ouster from the Congress and his attempted political diminution deliberately pursued by the Congress leadership had the effect of providing an upper hand to the communal forces within and beyond Congress, paving the way for the subsequent partition of India.

To attain his goal, Bose also propounded the doctrine of Samyavada, which sought to accommodate the common trails of nationalism, fascism, national-socialism, socialism and secularism. The ideals he sought to incorporate included complete national independence and uncompromising anti-imperialist stand, scientific large-scale production for the economic regeneration through a modern and socialist state, social ownership and control of both the means of production and distribution, freedom of religious worship and equal rights for individuals, linguistic and cultural autonomy for all sections of the Indian community and application of the principle of equality and social justice in building up the New Order in free India. All these would be enforced through establishing Samyavada Sangh in India, a centrally controlled all-Indian party, representing all classes of people and committed to uphold the eternal principle of India’s political independence, equality and justice.

On basic questions of strategy and tactics, Bose was thus immensely thoughtful and farsighted. For resolving fundamental problems of India’s national life he conceived a comprehensive plan with two components, an immediate component of struggle against colonialism and a long-term component of national reconstruction. The immediate component of the plan included preparing the country for self-sacrifice towards the objective of liberation, to keep it unified and to provide scope for local and cultural autonomy. Through elaborate planning and appropriate organization the country would be prepared for struggle and self-sacrifice and the people would have to be drawn to a strategy of direct action against foreign imperialism.

Bose thus proved himself to be a great strategic thinker and a good tactician with a pragmatic vision about the future of India. His credit lies not merely in articulating his ideas and theories but also in seeking to translate his politico-strategic theories into a programme of action. During the Quit India movement he innovated the concept of non violent guerrilla warfare to be undertaken within India and made a remarkable contribution to the theory of boycott and passive resistance. His programme of action, designed to give the Indian mass movement new dimensions of operational strategy and effectiveness, included prevention of tax and revenue collection, stay-in-strike by workers to hamper production, social boycott of the British and the pro-British Indian elements, sabotage and actual efforts to seize power by force of arms.

With his strategy of direct action and theory of boycott, Bose also popularized the tactical concept of mass-base for political parties to fight a revolutionary struggle, stressing the importance of closely associating the youth, students, the labouring classes-workers and peasants with the political life of the nation in order to galvanise the national movement.

While in Congress, he held the view that the INC could capture power with an intense nationalist struggle which would culminate in a general strike and civil disobedience. That would paralyse the administration and running of the government would be made impossible. Because the colonial government itself would like to follow a policy of persecution and repression, the jails would be full, the government itself would be demoralized, the bureaucracy would be forced to yield to the demands and desires of the people and the British authorities could no longer count on the loyalty of their servants. The Congress could then take full command of the situation by developing its organizational structure into a full and parallel government, duplicating each department and every instrument of the British hierarchy of administration. Labour should be organized, political education be provided for the masses, all preparations should follow for capturing power from the British.

However, Bose’s embittered relations with the Congress hierarchy over the programme of direct action against the British advocated by him, when the latter had confronted the Axis powers, including the issue of an ultimatum to the British and mobilisation of international support in favour of India’s nationalist struggle, led to his resignation and eventual expulsion from the Congress. The machination of the Congress hierarchy together with his frequent persecution by the colonial authorities in India made him desperate and had left him with little option but to seek to redeem his framework of action from abroad.

Bose became President of the Indian National Congress at a very critical juncture of international diplomacy when the Axis powers were on the brink of their forward march. As a pragmatic politician, fully committed to the cause of India’s liberation, he was inclined towards playing a real politik and wanted the Congress to pursue a foreign policy which would be based not on idealism or emotionalism but on considerations of India’s national interest. His view was that in the pursuit of foreign policy Congress should set aside its inhibition about the international politics or conduct of any country or the form of its state/government, as the people of every country, whatever their political ideology, sympathized with the aspiration of the Indian people for freedom and independence. He took the subtle position that the Congress leadership should tone down their utterance against the militarist and expansionist activities of the Axis powers and should take a leaf out of the diplomacy of the USSR, which did not hesitate to make alliances with non-socialist states as long as such an alliance served Soviet interests. In fact, apart from the question of the pace of the nationalist movement, and appropriate strategy and tactics to be followed, one of the main reason of Bose’s suspension from all executive positions in 1939 was his differences with the Congress hierarchy over the war issue and his attitude towards world affairs.

Bose’s “whole life.” As he stated, “is one long, persistent, uncompromising struggle against British imperialism, and is the best guarantee of my bona fides”. He himself saw his leanings towards the Axis alliance as a hazardous mission and his sole object was the expulsion of the British from India; in this case, if he had any triumph he would share that with Gandhiji and the Indian people. But Bose was not an Axis apologist and was not certainly soft toward the expansionist maneuvers of the Axis powers. Rather it was under his stewardship as President, the Congress had decided to observe 12 June 1938 as China Day throughout India in solidarity with the Chinese people fighting the Japanese invasion. In September an ambulance unit was also dispatched to Canton, which was a victim of Japanese bombardment. All this symbolized, as Bose stated, India’s goodwill, esteem and sympathy for the Chinese nation. He had no illusion about the behaviour of the Nazis in Europe. With specific reference to Munich Pact, which he called as an abject surrender to Nazi Germany, he wondered how Europe had sold her soul for the sake of a seven day’s earthly existence and passed the hegemony in Europe into the hands of Germany.

It may nevertheless be mentioned that, while Bose was an uncompromising player in the game of politics, he was also accommodative of the views of others in the Congress who had advocated a policy of active opposition to both fascism and imperialism everywhere. He understood the strong sentiment in the Congress behind it and though not approving, not only did not protest but publicly associated himself with it as President. But Bose was cold shouldered by the Congress hierarchy, which had adopted manifestly an anti-Fascist approach, being strongly influenced by the views of Gandhi and Nehru in its foreign policy orientation and sought to negotiate with Britain, denouncing the Axis alliance. Not only he was isolated in the Congress for his views, forcing him to resign but was also expelled unceremoniously, and he Bengal Pradesh Committee which had backed him up was also banned and immobilised in an intolerant fashion. It was in sheer disgust and remorse he stated in Delhi on 12 October 1939 that he was opposed to Hitlerism whether in India, within the Congress or any other country.

Bose was not particularly prejudiced about Britain except for the question of British imperialism and colonization of India. He certainly cherished no enmity as he said, towards the British people. We are fighting Great Britain and we want the fullest liberty to determine our future relations with her. But once we have real self-determination, there is no reason whey we should not enter into the most cordial relations with the British people. It seems obvious that this attitude towards the Axis alliance was merely tactical and very much consistent with classical strategic theorizing the enemies of Britain, he though, in the context of the War, were the friends of India and the defeat of Britain in the War would lead to emancipation of India or to put in more categorical terms in his own words. The fundamental principle of our foreign policy has been and will be Britain’s enemy is India’s friend.

Long before the outbreak of the Second World War, Bose was convinced of an impending international crisis involving the major powers and he wanted that India should make the fullest use of that crisis to win back her freedom. Naturally he considered the war of 1939 as a blessing in disguise, which had set the final stage of struggle for India’s liberation. Having witnessed an unprecedented awakening in the Indian states and with his firm belief that India was ripe for revolution, he perceived as a cold blooded realist, that an opportune moment had arrived in India’s national history for a final showdown with the British when everyone seemed to be willing to give blood necessary to win liberty. All that it needed then was to sink internal differences, pull our resources and pull our weight in the national struggle and seek international support and one all-embracing organization to link up Indian nationalists all over the world. Therefore, he pleaded that in their own national interest the Indians should dissociate themselves from the British war efforts, as any British victory in the war is likely to delay India’s independence.

Initially Bose was not interested in mobilizing the support of the Axis alliance, although he did understand, for instance, the imperialistic logic, which worked in Tokyo when her race for expansion and act of aggression took the world opinion by surprise. He contemplated going to China, but the British authorities refused to permit him to visit China and even threatened to intern him under the Defence of India Act. Having a view of the USSR as an anti-British and anti-imperialist power he had a desire to go to Russia, as he felt that Russia was the only country which could help to liberate India.

Moreover, the attack from the North-West was in keeping with traditional historical precedent, but the declaration of the Russo-German War dashed his hope for inducing Soviet support from the North-West towards the Indian liberation struggle at that time. Therefore, he had to re-plan his international strategy, with the planned assault from the non-traditional direction, the North-East, a strategy which in its originality, planning and daring is unequalled in the world’s military annals.

It may be mentioned that Bose’s attempt to induct support of the Axis powers was no more than a response to Britain’s own war effort, as it had introduced troops and weapons from other foreign countries in India. It was only natural that the nationalists fighting the British would have the similar right to seek foreign support against the British imperialist intrusion. But, he insisted, the emancipation of India must be the work primarily of Indian themselves. As far as Britain was concerned he did not conceal his rules of the game. He was a zero-sum player and, therefore, bluntly stated, ‘I am an extremist and my principle is – all or none’. He would sacrifice everything so as to attain the objective of India’s independence.

The INA itself certainly had failed in its immediate mission in Arakan or in the Imphal Operation, but the failure itself may be more ascribed to an overextended Japan (which had deferred the planned offensive against the enemy until the monsoon of 1944) than to the lapses of the INA or of its Commander-in-Chief. After the failure in this front, Bose, as Commander-in-Chief of the Azad Hind Fouz had to leave Burma, as he said, with a heavy heart, yet with an invincible spirit he implored others not to be disheartened, as India, he felt, might have lost the first round of our fight for independence. But there are many more rounds to fight. For, as he said, the roads to Delhi are many, like the roads to Rome. And along one of these many roads we shall travel and ultimately reach our destination, the metropolis of India.

Even the defeat and surrender of Japan did not disillusion him, as he asserted that ‘the darkest hour precedes the dawn’. That ‘Japan’s surrender was not India’s surrender’ and that the justness of India’s liberation was such that it was “bound to prevail in the long run”. With his hindsight of shifting diplomatic and strategic dynamics he was certain that the alliance between Russia and the West would not outlast the war in Europe and that USSR would prove to be a greater menace to Anglo-American imperialism than the Axis powers were. Indeed, being aware of Soviet sympathy for a free India, Bose’s Provisional Government of Azad Hind had never declared war on Russia, which Bose had always considered as an anti-imperialist power, and not an enemy in so far as India’s independence was concerned, although the Provisional Government did declare war on both Britain and the USA. Hence after Japan’s surrender to the Allies he wished to go to Russia to seek Soviet help to fight the British. Following his insistence it was indeed arranged for Bose to fly by a special aeroplane to Manchuria, then under Russian occupation, but the ill-fated plane crashed in Taipei on 18 August 1945 on its way to Dairen, resulting in his untimely death as well as a sad demise of his scheme of inducting Soviet support for India’s liberation.

Bose indeed, was a nationalist, not a stooge of any foreign power. He had full knowledge of world politics and a masterly understanding of changing international situations. His consistent emphasis on a strong central government for a liberated India was based not only on the requirements of internal consolidation but also on the considerations of ensuring security against any external attack. He had the boldness and courage to protest the disparaging comments made by Hitler in his Main Kampf on the ability of the Indians to rebel against the British, which also attested to his dislike of Hitler and his Nazism. The government he headed and the Army he commanded maintained their independent postures, even during the worst of crises during the war. The INA did, of course, work out a common strategy with the Japanese against the perceived common enemy, but it did operate quite independently, that is, without playing any role unless the common strategy so demanded.

Thus in 1944 while the INA was enabled to participate in the Imphal Operation as a full and equal participant, the Japanese were refused permission to launch their planned heavy air attack on Calcutta as it would alienate Indian sentiment and cause unnecessary suffering and panic among the Indian people. While formal recognition from the powers allied with the Axis powers in October 1943 did provide the Provisional Government of Azad Hind with international legitimacy, Bose’s Government did not necessarily toe the Axis line on war and peace nor did Bose give away anything, not even symbols, which might have harmed India’s interests and honour.

Rather, Bose persuaded the Japanese government to transfer the Japanese-held Indian territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean to the Provisional Government of Azad Hind, renamed respectively as Shaheed (Martyr) and Swaraj(Freedom), so that he could assert his sovereign authority, even if for propaganda purposes. He maintained the diplomatic dignity and honour of India even after the debacle in Burma, as he refused to receive the Japanese Ambassador to Bose’s government, Hachiya, who came to Rangoon without any diplomatic ‘credentials’ and had to wait until they were produced. In similar vein he refused to allow the INA to be used against the Burmese National Army of Aung San after its revolt against the Japanese. He even refused to accept the honour of ‘Order of the Rising Sun’ offered by the Japanese Emperor until India was free and was in a position to reciprocate.

Bose’s thought on an international system was to replace the old hierarchy of order with a new pattern of symmetrical interaction from below, involving nations then under colonial subjugation. The idea was to circumvent the asymmetric order of international relations of the time, led by some metropolitan empires. In such a prognosis he seems to have been far advanced of his time. He also advocated internationalism, not of the existing British Commonwealth or of the Japanese-sponsored ‘Co-prosperity Sphere’ type, both of which then emerged as mere imperialist tools.

Bose had laid his faith in regional systems based on common interests and culture, which would gradually extend until a symmetrical order of international system came into being. His view of the then British Commonwealth was that it must develop into an association of free nations or disintegrate. It hardly needs mentioning that the post-war transformation of that body was consistent with Bose’s vision. Similarly, he felt that the “Co-Prosperity Sphere” as a regional framework might help promote world peace minus the phenomenon of Japan’s hegemony. In the context of the changing global scenario in the post-Cold War era, especially in the context of developing relationships in the Asian-pacific region where Japan may be seen as a major player, one may perceive the emergence of a new regional grouping in the region, seemingly consistent with the project of Bose.


Subhas Chandra Bose was a pragmatic revolutionary strategist and a politician of top order who had to innovate conceptual ideas on strategy at a time when there was very little intellectual framework for coping with the practical problems of politics. Bose’s conceptual ideas were indeed, unique in the sense that the domestic frame of his multifaceted struggle was inseparable from the external linkages that he sought to develop and cultivate. Thus, his vision of policies in general was an all-encompassing one and in that sense one might suggest that he laid his faith in a general theory of strategy with all its linkage components. Having developed his frame-work he sought to apply all his theoretical concepts to test them on the slippery ground of politics of his time.

Basically, Bose’s struggle was for a state that was non-existent as a free political entity and for a country that had lost its dignity in the comity of nations because of an imposed colonial bondage. His youthful dream, as he wrote to his mother, was merely to be an adventurer, but in the end he emerged to many Indian revolutionaries as the Man of Destiny or Netaji – the revered leader – who could have delivered the Indian nation not merely its freedom and independence but also the much cherished development, equality and social justice as well as restore India’s lost prestige in the country of nations. But the fateful events of history had cut short his mission and did not permit him to immediately deliver what he had visualized.

This essay has been taken from the book “Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose - Relevance to Contemporary World Edited by Dr. S.R. Chakravarty and Dr. C. Paul (Har-Anand Publications Pvt, Ltd, New Delhi.)

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Top 10 NRI Newsmakers of the Year 2008

Lord Swaraj Paul

A consistent NRI newsmaker for over three decades, Paul just made history by being installed Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords. Paul, seen in this pic with BJP leader LK Advani (left), is the first Indian to sit on the woolsack, the traditional seat. He has extensive investments in for his multi-billion pound company Caparo Group. Conferred the Peerage in 1996 and honoured with the Padma Bhushan by in 1983, 77-year-old Lord Paul is one of the most famous Indian origin entrepreneurs in .

Sonal Shah

Appointed to the Transition Team of US president-elect Barrack Obama, she is a member of a three-person team to coordinate technology, innovation and government reform during the transition. She earlier headed the philanthropic department of Internet giant Google; and was vice president at Goldman, Sachs and Co and developed and implemented the firm's environmental strategy. Shah, who raised funds for victims of the 2001 earthquake in through the Vishwa Hindu Parishad-America, has denied any links to this organisation.

Vikram Pandit

The Citibank CEO shocked everyone with his sudden appointment to the world's biggest banking company. After a year, he is right in the eye of the global financial tsunami to save his bank and spearhead its recovery. He makes news with the government's multi-billion dollar recovery package for his bank, job losses, restructuring and reviving an icon of the American financial sector. Facing a difficult recovery, Pandit faces one of the toughest challenges ever seen in the banking industry.

Karpal Singh

A Malaysian-Indian veteran lawyer and human rights activist, he fought the general election as an opposition candidate for equal treatment of all Malays for government contracts, employment and appointments. He has highlighted the woes of all underprivileged for 30 years and has been compared to Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

Sir Salman Rushdie

His long-time bestseller 'Midnight's Children' was, following a public vote, declared the Best of the Booker in the award's 40-year history.

Navanethan Pillay

A South African Indian judge, he was appointed for four years as the UN Human Rights Commissioner - a significant achievement for NRIs. Her grand-parents migrated from Tamil Nadu to as sugarcane indentured labourers in the late 1800s, and she became the first woman to start law practice in 'sin 1968. Pillay defended several anti-apartheid activists and successfully fought for the right of political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela.

Lakshmi Mittal

Lakshmi Mittal made some news for the wrong reasons this year. The world's largest steel maker after he took over Arcelor, Mittal has had to take tough decisions on staff sackings, respond to environmental concerns and acquisitions and mergers. On the positive side, he was honoured with Padma Vibhushan by and the third Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award for heroes of entrepreneurial capitalism and free enterprise.

The Great Khali, Dilip Singh Rana

One of the largest athletes in the World Wrestling Entertainment and World Heavyweight Champion, Khali calls himself after the Hindu Goddess Kali. This towering giant at seven feet three inches enjoyed a hero's welcome during his visit to this year. He also landed up film contracts.

Anand John

He was convicted of rape after a glamorous career as the fashion designer to stars. Fromto prison wards, he made headlines with court proceedings when he was accused of luring young women and girls, as young as 14, to an apartment where he acted out sadistic fantasies. The powerful, strident campaign for his innocence mounted by his sister Sanjana claims that he was framed.

and finally the most recent one !

Dev Patel

Dev who? Well, he is an 18-year actor in the new hit Slumdog Millionaire. Based on a novel Q&A by Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup and crafted into a film by the acclaimed director Danny Boyle with music by A.R. Rehman, this film is ready to grab some awards at the next Oscars. Patel plays Jamal, a slum child who becomes a national hero after he reaches the final question on's TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. Watch him! He could win the best supporting actor award.

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