Anita Bose Pfaff with a photo of her father, Subhash Chandra Bose, in her residence in Augsburg, Germany.(Prasun Sonwalkar / HT Photo)
Anita Bose Pfaff with a photo of her father, Subhash Chandra Bose, in her residence in Augsburg, Germany.(Prasun Sonwalkar / HT Photo)

My father would’ve been prominent alternative to Nehru: Bose’s daughter

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter, Anita Bose Pfaff, is annoyed that instead of accepting evidence, many continue to be excited with “asinine” theories that he survived the plane crash in Taipei in 1945 and lived in the mountains as “Gumnami Baba”. Excerpts from her interview with HT:
By Prasun Sonwalkar | Hindustan Times, Ausburg, Germany
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2016 09:25 AM IST

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter is annoyed that instead of accepting evidence, many continue to be excited with “asinine” theories that he survived the plane crash in Taipei in 1945 and lived in the mountains as “Gumnami Baba”.

Anita Bose Pfaff, 73, was about a month old when Bose saw her for the last time in Vienna. She is convinced Bose died in the crash on August 18, 1945, and has proposed a DNA test on his remains kept at Renkoji Temple in Japan. Speaking to Hindustan Times shortly before the Narendra Modi government begins releasing declassified files related to Bose, Pfaff said she supported the move but doubted if it would end the “fruitless” controversy.

A former academic and economist, she spoke on a range of issues, including the relationship between her mother, Emily Schenkl, and her iconic father.

Excerpts:

Q: Are you convinced that your father died in the air crash?

A: I think that is the most likely thing to have happened. If we get evidence that supports something else, I am open to that but so far I have not seen any evidence which is more convincing. In the beginning we all doubted that he died in the plane crash but as time passed some things came out and I was also present in the interview of some people who were survivors of that plane crash. It sounded very convincing.

Q: Since there is so much evidence about the crash and witness statements, do you think it is time to put this controversy to rest?

A: I wish so, it is rather fruitless with all these rather asinine theories being advanced, including that he is still alive, god knows where, or that he lived in the mountains as ‘Gumnami Baba’, which is an insult to him, because how can anyone believe that a person who was so dedicated to his country would then go and live in the mountains and not involve himself at all and not get in touch with any member of his family?

Ultimately, it is a very uninteresting controversy. Sometimes I am really annoyed. My father gave so much of his life to his country and then he is remembered by some people as , ‘Oh, he is that chap about whose death there is a controversy’. Is that the only claim to fame that he has? It’s really not a very fair reflection on his life and his contribution to the independence struggle.

Q: Do you think the files being declassified from Saturday will help put the controversy to rest?

A: I doubt it very much because these files will cover any number of interesting details, maybe interesting to historians, corroborate something, contradict other things, some of them new, some of them not really new, but I doubt very much that the convincing story about the plane crash not having happened, which some expect, is going to come out of that.

Read | Bose files: Taiwanese official gave evidence on Netaji’s cremation

Q: You mentioned the idea of a DNA test on the remains in the Renkoji temple in Japan.

A: Yes. The two governments – India and Japan – need to be involved, they need to agree, because without that the priest of the temple will not agree to hand over the material. There are bones but if the bones are charred very badly you cannot extract the DNA. Some specialists in the field have looked at the pictures of the bones and they say it’s quite conceivable that one could (extract DNA) because there are larger parts of the jaw and so on and that the DNA could be extracted from the centre of the bones. I think one should try. Originally, I was a bit hesitant because I felt the Japanese would feel very insulted but this whole rather undignified discussion which has been going on over decades can possibly be, well not put to rest, because there will be some people who will not take DNA proof as proof either. But I think rational people would at least accept the outcome of that, whichever way it were to go. The danger is that maybe the Japanese government feels that, well, what if they are not his remains - then they will sort of feel embarrassed. That is an issue where they may dilly-dally around it.

Q: Would you like the ashes to go to India?

A: If the proof of the DNA test shows that and the Japanese would be amenable to that, I think it would be better (if they are taken to India). If we cannot have a DNA test I personally would not mind if they came to India but if we were to face a very ugly controversy – from including members of my family – I think we could save ourselves that trouble (laughs).

Read | I would like to sleep a while: Netaji’s last words on Aug 18, 1945

Q: Do you think India would be different if your father were alive?

A: First, I am convinced that if he were alive he would have involved himself in the politics of the time. That might have had a number of consequences. There would have been a prominent alternative to Nehru. Of course we must consider that on some issues they had very similar views. They were both in essence in favour of a political system which was not dominated by communal controversies. They were both modern in the sense that they wanted industrialisation. But on the other hand, there would have been differences; for example, I imagine his position vis-à-vis Pakistan would have been different. Nobody really wanted or expected what happened after Partition. The amount of genocide left wounds on both sides which were difficult to overcome but I imagine he would have a different view towards Pakistan. If he could not prevent Partition – both he and Gandhi wanted to prevent it – I think he probably would have tried and succeeded in having better relations with Pakistan…India has been suffering less from the controversies (since independence) because with all the problems India faces, it is a functioning state, and from that point of view Pakistan is in a much worse position.

Q: What is your memory of your father, your assessment of him as a person; what did your mother say to you about him?

A: I have no recollection of him at all. He was a person very dedicated to the cause of fighting for India’s independence. Of course, my mother told me a number of things about him. Well, she was certainly a biased person in that matter, of course. Given the circumstances, one has to be surprised that she was willing to share her life with a person who was so dedicated to a cause which took him away. Looking at this as an adult it is really more surprising that she always spoke well of him and did not criticise him because he really must have been a disaster of a husband…She was better at maintaining correspondence with members of my family than I am.

Q: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Berlin last year, but you did not meet him.

A: I was invited to the reception in Berlin but I decided not to go because I felt he is so busy with any number of topical issues on the Indo-German relations, so certainly talking to him about anything pertaining to my father would have just added a totally different issue which in essence would have been a burden on him I felt. And just to go and say Namashkar (laughs)…I am sure he would have met me for a few minutes but I felt this would have been more symbolic than anything else. His office has been in touch; they asked several times if I would be coming for the 23 January event (declassification of files) but few days ago I told them I won’t be able to make it; they even told me that he would meet me privately, but maybe I will go later in the year. The embassy told me that they would make an appointment for me to see him.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa arrives to present the state budget 2021-22 in the Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru, March 8, 2021. (PTI Photo)
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa arrives to present the state budget 2021-22 in the Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru, March 8, 2021. (PTI Photo)

In BS Yediyurappa’s Karnataka budget, borrowings see sharp increase

By Sharan Poovanna, Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 02:12 PM IST
The Karnataka chief minister has provided 52,529 crore for providing stimulus to economic activities.
Close
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa presents the state budget 2021-22 in the Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru, March 8, 2021. (PTI Photo)
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa presents the state budget 2021-22 in the Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru, March 8, 2021. (PTI Photo)

Karnataka government slashes stamp duty on low-cost apartments

By Sharan Poovanna, Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 02:06 PM IST
The cut comes at a time when real estate companies in Karnataka and especially in Bengaluru have requested for some relief to boost sales of unsold apartments in India's IT capital.
Close
Graphic depicting the location of the earthquake(National Centre for Seismology)
Graphic depicting the location of the earthquake(National Centre for Seismology)

Magnitude 3.6 earthquake hits Himachal Pradesh's Chamba

Edited by Joydeep Bose | ANI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:29 PM IST
Notably, an earthquake measuring magnitude 2.4 on the Richter Scale had hit the same region last month, the NCS had informed.
Close
Chief Minister of West Bengal state and Trinamool Congress party leader Mamata Banerjee.(AP)
Chief Minister of West Bengal state and Trinamool Congress party leader Mamata Banerjee.(AP)

News updates from HT: Mamata Banerjee to hold foot march in Kolkata

By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:11 PM IST
Here are today’s top news, analysis and opinion. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
Close
A pedestrian walks past a wall mural in Mumbai on March 6, 2021. (AFP)
A pedestrian walks past a wall mural in Mumbai on March 6, 2021. (AFP)

86.25% new Covid cases in 6 states: Govt

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:55 PM IST
Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 11,141, followed by Kerala with 2,100 and Punjab with 1,043 new infections, the ministry said.
Close
Representational image.
Representational image.

Maratha reservation: SC seeks states' response on allowing over 50% quota

By Abraham Thomas
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 02:00 PM IST
The request to seek a response from all states was raised by Maharashtra ,which has maintained that it is justified in exceeding the 50% ceiling in the state to benefit Marathas
Close
The Supreme Court. (File photo)
The Supreme Court. (File photo)

‘Didn’t ask accused to marry girl’: CJI Bobde on row over remarks in rape case

By Utkarsh Anand, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:44 PM IST
Seeking to dispel a controversy after bench led by him asked a rape accused last week whether he was ready to marry the complainant, Justice Bobde pointed out that his questions to the lawyer for the accused were in the facts of that case but there was misreporting by the media
Close
Men row their makeshift raft made of plastic pipes on the Dal Lake.(AP)
Men row their makeshift raft made of plastic pipes on the Dal Lake.(AP)

Snowfall and rains bring down Kashmir temperature

By Mir Ehsan, Srinagar, Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:38 PM IST
  • Another spell of scattered to widespread rain with thunderstorm and snowfall is most likely during March 11-13th, as per the weather department.
Close
A pharmacist displays a box of tocilizumab, which is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. (REUTERS)
A pharmacist displays a box of tocilizumab, which is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. (REUTERS)

Arthritis drug cuts death risk by half in severe Covid-19 patients: Study

PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:25 PM IST
Since the rheumatoid arthritis drug is immunosuppressive, doctors were concerned that it could lead to more secondary infections
Close
Image courtesy: ANI
Image courtesy: ANI

International Women's Day: Women MPs push for 33% reservation in Parliament

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Shivani
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:16 PM IST
  • The Women's Reservation Bill is the pending bill in the Parliament that seeks amendment in the Constitution of India to reserve one-third of all seats in the Lok Sabha and in all state legislatures for women.
Close
Rajya Sabha chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu. (PTI)
Rajya Sabha chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu. (PTI)

Low attendance in Demand for Grants meetings an area of concern: Naidu

UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:48 PM IST
Addressing members of the Upper House, Naidu said the attendance of members of non-BJP and non-Congress parties and groups fell to 27.60% from 40% last year
Close
Representational image. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Representational image. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Is Haryana’s new reservation law constitutionally tenable?

UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 02:23 PM IST
Under the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2021 , every employer is required to employ 75% “local candidates” for posts where the gross monthly salary is not more than 50,000
Close
The women protesters arrive at Tikri border near Delhi on Monday.(ANI Photo)
The women protesters arrive at Tikri border near Delhi on Monday.(ANI Photo)

Women protesters join ongoing stir demanding repeal of 'black laws'

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 10:38 AM IST
The Samkyukta Kisan Morcha, which is spearheading the protest, said it expects 15,000 women protesters at Tikri and 4,000 at Singhu on Monday. The women are coming to protest sites new Delhi on the occasion of International Women's Day.
Close
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.(HT file)
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.(HT file)

International Women's Day: Punjab lines up 8 schemes aimed at female empowerment

Posted by Joydeep Bose | ANI
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 10:38 AM IST
The International Women's Day, on March 8 every year, celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
Close
The tremor was recorded at 7.42 AM with its epicentre 13 km east-north-east of Dudhai in Kutch district(PTI/ Representational photo)
The tremor was recorded at 7.42 AM with its epicentre 13 km east-north-east of Dudhai in Kutch district(PTI/ Representational photo)

Magnitude 3.2 tremor felt in Gujarat's Kutch district, no casualties reported

Posted by Joydeep Bose | PTI
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 10:16 AM IST
Kutch is located in a very high-risk seismic zone, according to the state disaster management authorities.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP