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Sarat and Subhas

Janakinath and Prabhabati Bose could not have imagined as they began married life, and his successful legal practice in Cuttack Orissa from the mid-1880s, that a large family of eight boys and six girls to follow, would include not one but two iconic heroes of the national freedom struggle. Sarat was born as the second son and second child on 6 September 1889, and was thus more than seven years older than the sixth son and ninth child Subhas, born on 23 January 1897.

As the younger son, Subhas admired and looked up to his older brother Sarat, and was to draw lifelong inspiration, comradeship and sustenance from him. Sarat for his part, recognised in Subhas very early on exceptional qualities of intellect, vision, courage and compassion. Each saw the other as a leader and flag-bearer of the protracted struggle for independence from the imperial power and a vibrant, united India. They lived together, fought together, and even for a brief period were in the same jail together.

As the son of Sarat and nephew of Subhas, Amiya Nath Bose was to observe much later in a lecture of 23 January 1976 on the occasion of Subhas' birthday: "... the life and work of Subhas Chandra Bose cannot be fully appreciated without an understanding of Sarat Chandra Bose. They shared a common vision of a free and united India, took an uncompromising stand on majority or minority-based communalism, and believed passionately in the principles of socialism."

All too soon, sadly for the future of India, they passed from the scene. Subhas disappeared before independence was won, having last been seen in mid-August 1945 and allegedly perishing as the result of an aircraft crash on 18 August 1945. Sarat suffered a fatal heart attack on 20 February 1950, believing and hoping to the last that his beloved younger brother was still alive somewhere.

The mystery of the fate of Subhas remains unresolved to this day. The answer may yet be found in secret government files, and concerted efforts to unlock those held by the Government of India continue.

 

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