An Ode to the Indian National Army

Speech at a military review of the Indian National Army

July 5, 1943

India’s Army of Liberation!


Netaji Shri Subhash Chandra Bose

Today is the proudest day of my life. Today it has pleased Providence to give me the unique privilege and honour of announcing to the whole world that India’s Army of Liberation has come into being. This army has now been drawn up in military formation on the battlefield of Singapore, which was once the bulwark of the British Empire. This is not only the Army that will emancipate India from the British yoke; it is also the Army that will hereafter create the future national army of Free India. Every Indian must feel proud that this Army, his own Army, has been organized entirely under Indian leadership and that when the historic moment arrives, under Indian leadership it will go to battle.

August 15th, 2012

Its 5.45AM. AM at Shri Anand Dighe Dwar at the threshold of Thane. I was to reach at 6.15AM, but I thought it would pour and I left earlier. The rain left before me. It is vampire black and I see two heads peep out behind a parked trailer truck. Ah, signs of civilisation. They are new recruits yet to do their Ist ride. (This is muh second ride…hyuk hyuk) We meet and exchange blood group details and settle down to wait for the herd. I try to locate a teashop. Even the Octroi post guys are sleeping. As I walked back to the herd of two, I wonder why this speech is buzzing in my head.

There are people who thought at one time that the Empire on which the sun did not set was an everlasting empire. No such thought ever troubled me. History had taught me that every empire has its inevitable decline and collapse. Moreover I had seen with my own eyes, cities and fortresses that were once the bulwarks but which became the graveyards of by-gone empires. Standing today on the graveyard of the British empire, even a child is convinced that the almighty British empire is already a thing of the past.

Earlier: “Guys, you can die, but you cannot reach late.” This is our Paaji, Gurinder Singh, leader of the Bisons Ride Hard Club, at a ride familiarization meet in Mumbai a few days earlier. “We owe our lives to these Jawans and let’s make this ride count.”(I had counted two blisters on each hand in my last ride, but I thought I shouldn’t mention it) He continued to drill in his booming voice and gentle demeanour the ride details and the task afore us.

When France declared war on Germany in 1939 and the campaign began, there was but one cry which rose from the lips of German soldiers–“To Paris, To Paris!” When the Brave soldiers of Nippon set out on their march in December 1941 there was but one cry which rose from their lips-“To Singapore. To Singapore!” Comrades! Soldiers! Let your battle-cry be-“To-Delhi to Delhi! “How many of us will individually survive this war of freedom, I do not know. But I do know this, that we shall ultimately win and our task will not end until our surviving heroes hold the victory parade on another graveyard of the British empire, the Lal Kila or Red Fortress of ancient Delhi.

The new guys looked at me wondering when the others would come. I heard the thump before them and I presented the riders to them magically. I said you will attain these spiritual powers after your second ride. 25 bikes assembled in battle formation. Diagonal to the road and slanted to take off. Each Bison went to greet the other and all inspected each other’s machines. The rain had long stopped and a chai-ketliwala soon materialized. The new recruits were told this is Bison Majik. They were still believing me.

Throughout my public career, I have always felt that though India is otherwise ripe for independence in every way, she has lacked one thing, namely an army of liberation. George Washington of America could fight and win freedom, because he had his army. Garibaldi could liberate Italy, because he had his armed volunteers behind him. It is your privilege and honor to be the first to come forward and organize India’s national army.

Earlier: “Guys, Nashik Road Center, Nashik has invited us to a Ride-Past in front of the Jawans on Independence Day. Alternately, we can ride in the City of Mumbai and be seen by the crowd and media or we can ride hard 200KM to Deolali and be seen by the Jawans of the Indian National Army. Shall we ride for the Jawans? Who will ride with me…..? With a blood curdling yell we raised our guns, uh hands in the air. The Ride was counted and numbered.

By doing so, you have removed the last obstacle in our path to freedom. Be happy and proud that you are the pioneers, the vanguard, in such a noble cause. Let me remind you that you have a two-fold task to perform. With the force of arms and at the cost of your blood you will have to win liberty. Then, when India is free, you will have to organize the permanent army of Free India, whose task it will be to preserve our liberty for all time. We must build up our national defense on such an unshakable foundation that never again in our history shall we lose our freedom.

We rode on at 6.00 AM, in our usual single file formation, flanked by able Marshals. A cool day; the dawn rode with us and within an hour we were in bright sunlight. The ride was close-fist-halted in an hour thereafter. All side parked and assembled to the First Bike. This time we were captained by Gurinder Singh himself, on Shree Vinayak Rath. He had taken out the Indian Flag and was fastening it on his bike flagpole. So were a few others. He called us to attention and we all circled the Indian Flag and stiffened up and sang the National Anthem. On NH3. One hour into the ride. The moment seized us. No one spoke. The moment was bigger than each Bison. We got onto our Bisons and rode under the flag of The Republic of India.

As soldiers, you will always have to cherish and live up to the three-ideals of faithfulness, duty and sacrifice. Soldiers who always remain faithful to their nation, who are always prepared to sacrifice their lives, are invincible. If you, too, want to be invincible, engrave these three ideals in the inner most core of your hearts. A true soldier needs both military and spiritual training. You must, all of you, so train yourselves and your comrades that every soldier will have unbounded confidence in himself, will be conscious of being immensely superior to the enemy, will be fearless of death, and will have sufficient initiative to act on his own in any critical situation should the need arise.

An auspicious pee break to tally up the Bisons and rally them before the ghat begins, helped in focussing. We needed to….

Earlier: “We have to reach the School at 9.00AM. the Ride-Past is at 10.00AM Bisons, this is a zero-fail ride. If your bike stops we will park it safely someplace and pillion you forward. We will not stop. Remember, the Jawans will be waiting…..

During the course of the present war, you have seen with your own eyes what wonders scientific training, coupled with courage, fearlessness and dynamism, can achieve. Learn all that you can from this example, and buildup for Mother India an absolutely first-class modern army. To those of you who are officers, I should like to say that your responsibility is a heavy one. Though the responsibility of an officer in every army in this world is indeed great, it is far greater in your case. Because of our political enslavement, we have no tradition like that of Mukden, Port Arthur or Sedanto inspire us. We have to unlearn some of the things that the British taught us and we have to learn much that they did not teach. Nevertheless. I am confident that you will rise to the occasion and fulfill the task that your country men have thrown on your brave soldiers.

The ghats were easier this time for me and I did manage to stay in some good semblance of position. Igatpuri was lovely and she greeted us with a rolling mist that stayed with us for thirty minutes, cooling our passion and increasing the fever of the Ride. We reached Nashik easily and sidestepped under a flyover to get to Deolali. Bisons were closer now as the speed drooped to tighten up the ranks. Of course with me around I do manage to contribute to the comedy content.


Remember always that officers can make or unmake an army. Remember, too, that the British have suffered defeats on so many fronts largely because of worthless officers. And remember also that out of your ranks will be born the future  Staff of the Army of Free India. To all of you I should like to say that in the course of this war you will have to acquire the experience and achieve the success which alone can build up a national tradition for our Army.

Earlier: Ride Hard and Ride Safe. It’s going to be a lovely day and we will all get there together. However, if you can’t see any Bison and if your eyes are open, then get to Deolali and to the School and ask for Retd LT  Col. Utpal Banerjee. Burn this detail on your exhaust and get there.

 An army that has no tradition of courage, fearlessness and invincibility cannot hold its own in a struggle with a powerful enemy. Comrades! You have voluntarily accepted a mission that is the noblest that the human mind can conceive of. For the fulfilment of such a mission no sacrifice is too great, not even the sacrifice of one’s life. You are today the custodians of India’s national honour and the embodiment of India’s hopes and aspirations. So conduct yourself that your countrymen may bless you and posterity may be proud of you.

As I side stepped the flyover and right- turned to Deolali, I couldn’t see the Bisons and at a parked police car I asked the Police within for directions. When I told them flag hoisting, they proudly offered directions to Deolali, after asking me to switch off my lamp. I told them Bisons keep their lights on and before they could react, I thoughtfully sped off  remembering the detail on my exhaust. Not seeing any Bison in front, I happily thought I must have really ripped ahead. Soon I spied a Bison in my shivering rear view mirror. He was making funny hand signs. Not having taken an advanced course in ‘BisonTalk’, I continued until the rider came alongside and stopped me. Apparently I had sped ahead while all were opposite the police car eating breakfast. So much for my thoughts of ripping ahead. I turned around and when I reached I told them that I was just checking the road ahead for infiltrators. They politely waved me off and I dived into tea and shoe polish

Earlier: Guys, just before you reach we will stop and smarten up. (I thought a Bison is known for the way he looks, I didn’t mention it) This means, cleaning up the trousers, freshening, cleaning your shoes with polish, cutting your nails, etc. etc…

I saw my pants had borrowed the atmosphere from Igatpuri and I took a rag and soaked it in water and washed my cuffs and shoes. The last time I did this was in school. Someone purchased shoe polish and it was passed around like a joint. We all cleaned our headlamps and everyone stripped to their Bison T shirts. I kept my jacket on since I didn’t yet qualify for one and I had a bright red colored T Shirt that wouldn’t be allowed in the loo of the School. Everyone appreciated my gesture. Someone paid for the tea and we rode on.

At the gate of NRC, we waited to be met by Col. Utpal Bannerjee (retired) and Sir Mastan Singh. He soon bundled us up and we were counted and let in. Two of the gracious ladies (Meenal and Manny) rode ahead in the Gypsy that led us within the gates. We entered in close formation. The gypsy took us to the stadium and stopped.

We saw the recruits and would be Jawans waiting for us. The moment became electric!

We started the ride- past the Jawans of The Indian National Army. This was indeed a proud moment as it is the Jawans who march past the Flag or monument. Rarely do they get someone to Ride-Past them. And it’s also about being privileged to ride past them with all the sacrifices they bear upon themselves and their families to serve for the Nation, so every patriotic citizen will always ride past them with respect.



The Bisons did.

I have said that today is the proudest day of my life. For an enslaved people, there can be no greater pride, no higher honour, than to be the first soldier in the army of liberation.

At less than 10kmph, in a sparkling formation, we slow-rode hugging the circumference of the stadium. When we reached the centre, we all stopped in formation. We turned towards the jawans who were seated in front and did namaskar. Folded hands and misty eyed, we conveyed our deepest gratitude. We rode past and parked ahead, out of site. We walked back within the stadium and Gurinder Singh, Founder of Bisons Ride Hard addressed the assembly. He paid obeisance to the Army and spoke about the motto of the Bisons. Thereafter, we all presented the Jawans with chocolate and pinned their lapels with a badge of the Flag of India. Then the Jawans got up and assembled with us on the field, where Gurinder Paaji presented the Indian Flag to the Sir Mastan Singh. At a singular moment, that we all will never forget, together we sang the National Anthem.

With the Jawans of the Indian National Army.

But this honour carries with it a corresponding responsibility and I am deeply conscious of it. I assure you that I shall be with you in darkness and in sunshine, in sorrow and in joy, in suffering and in victory. For the present, I can offer you nothing except hunger, thirst, privation, forced marches and death. But if you follow me in life and in death, as I am confident you will, I shall lead you to victory and freedom. It does not matter who among us will live to see India free. It is enough that India shall be free and that we shall give our all to make her free. May God now bless our Army and grant us victory in the coming fight!

Inqualab  Zindabad ! Azad Hind Zindabad ! 

 We rode back in silence.

Jai Hind!

Sources: Original Speech by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

This blog post written by me, was originally published on the Bisons Ride Hard website. Images reproduced with permission.

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