Subhas Chandra Bose was the first prime minister of undivided India, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh claimed Friday while asserting that his contributions were either ignored or undermined after the country got Independence.
"There is a need to re-evaluate Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's role and vision. Some people call it rewriting history. I call it course correction," he said.
Addressing a programme at a private university in Greater Noida, Singh said, "The Azad Hind Sarkar was the first 'swadeshi' government of India. I have zero hesitation in calling it the first swadeshi sarkar.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had formed this government and taken oath as prime minister on October 21, 1943."
The senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader said that ever since Narendra Modi became prime minister, efforts are being made to accord Bose "the respect he rightly deserves and is due to him".
"There was a time in independent India when Bose's contributions were either deliberately ignored or undermined. It was not evaluated correctly. It was done to the extent that several documents related to him were never made public," Singh said.
"In 2014, when Narendra Modi became prime minister, he started giving respect to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose which he always and rightly deserved."
Singh said when he was the Union home minister, he got to meet the family members of Bose after which over 300 documents related to him were declassified and dedicated to the people of India.
"Sometimes people wonder what more is there about Netaji that we do not know. Most Indians know him as a prominent freedom fighter, as the supreme commander of the Azad Hind Fauj, and a revolutionary who underwent several difficulties for India's freedom. But very few people know him as the first prime minister of undivided India," he said.
The Azad Hind government was not a symbolic government but one which had presented thoughts and policies on several important aspects of human life, the Union minister said.
"It had its own postal stamps, currency, and intelligence service. Developing such a system with limited resources was no ordinary feat," he added.
Singh noted that though Bose was faced with the mighty British empire, he was undaunted in his resolve of making India free o foreign rule.
Singh was addressing the inaugural session of Young Researchers Conclave 2022 at Galgotias University in Greater Noida. The conclave was organised by Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal, an offshoot of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Gautam Buddh Nagar MP Mahesh Sharma, Jewar MLA Dhirendra Singh, and Rajya Sabha MP Surendra Nagara were among those present in the session attended by over 450 researchers from across the country.
The Union Minister exhorted the youth to take inspiration from revolutionary freedom fighters such as Bose to build a strong and self-reliant 'New India' capable of effectively dealing with all future challenges, according to an official statement.
"The young ignited minds of the country have the potential to build an 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'. They should take inspiration from the country's glorious cultural heritage and come out with innovative ideas, through in-depth research, to take the country to greater heights," he said.
He maintained that technology will play a central role in every sector in the times to come but called upon the students to focus on in-depth research through conventional sources such as research institutes, libraries and archives, other than newer methods such as the internet and the 'Google search'.
"In this era of globalisation, the world is interconnected through many mediums. It is, therefore, necessary to understand different cultures, languages, education, economic and political systems.
"While we are steadfast in building a 'New India', our guide should be 'India of the past' and its rich cultural traditions," the minister said.