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Role of the Indian National Army (INA) in India’s freedom

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: India’s freedom struggle


Source: IE


Context: Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA) emerged as a pivotal force in India’s quest for independence during World War II.


What was INA?

The INA (a military organization) was established to encourage the growth of armed Indian nationalism. It was also conceived to undermine the British Indian Army and finally work to secure the Independence of India.

Initially founded by Mohan Singh and later led by Subhas Chandra Bose, the INA aimed to secure Indian independence from British rule and fought under the command of the Japanese military in Southeast Asia. The first INA, formed in 1942, collapsed due to disagreements with the Japanese military and was later revived under Bose’s leadership in 1943. Through a strategic public relations campaign, Bose garnered widespread support, expanding the INA’s strength to over 40,000 personnel.


INA activities:

  1. The INA in a few months’ time had three fighting brigades named after Gandhi, Azad and Nehru. Soon other brigades were raised, namely the Subhash Brigade and the Rani Jhansi Brigade (an exclusive women’s force).
  2. The most important operation the INA was a part of, was undoubtedly its operations in the Indian theatre in the Second World War. The Japanese were initially reluctant to take INA troops with them but Bose convinced them to take a small INA force which was used, much to the frustration of Bose, for secondary operations by the Japanese.
  1. Creation of the provisional governmentOn October 21, 1943, Subhash Bose formed the Provisional Government for Free India in Singapore with H.C. Chatterjee (Finance portfolio), M.A. Aiyar (Broadcasting), Lakshmi Swaminathan (Women Department), etc.
    1. This provisional government declared war on Britain and the United States and was recognised by the Axis powers.
    2. Recruits were trained and funds were collected for the INA.
    3. The famous slogan—“Give me blood, I will give you freedom” was given in Malaya.
  2. Battle of Kohima -,The Azad Hind Fauz crossed the Burma border and stood on Indian soil on March 18, 1944. The INA units subsequently advanced up to Kohima and Imphal
    1. The tricolour was hosted on Indian soil
    2. However, the INA failed to capture Imphal due to two reasons:
      1. The Japanese failed to supply the necessary material and air cover to the INA.
      2. The Monsoon prevented their advance.
    3. INA trials – The Indian National Army trials (also known as the INA trials and the Red Fort trials) was the British Indian trialby court-martial of a number of officers of the Indian National Army (INA) between November 1945 and May 1946, on various charges of treason, torture, murder and abetment to murder, during the Second World War.
      1. In November 1945, a British move to put the N.A. men on trial immediately sparked massive demonstrations all over the country.


Significance of INA:

 The INA had failed to achieve its goal, but it made a significant impact on the freedom struggle in the following ways

  1. Awakening sense of nationalism – INA also generated patriotic feelings in the hearts of many national leaders and the masses and caused uprisings in Bombay and Calcutta. The Red Fort trials of INA members managed to unite masses of Indians against British rule.
  2. Demonstration of communal unityThestruggles of the INA demonstrated that those who waged an armed struggle against the British were not at all affected by communal division. As, there were Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in the INA who had fought as Indians
  3. Empowerment of womenThe actions ofthe Rani Jhansi Brigade, an exclusive women’s force, demonstrated the capabilities of Indian Women waging armed struggle against the British.
  4. Fighting against injusticeIt became clear to the British that, they could no longer dependon the loyalty of Indian Soldiers and treat them as mercenaries.
  5. Igniting unity among various political groups All the political groups came together to protect the prisoners of INA which showed the united political unity against British Rule.



 Gandhiji addressing the INA officers said “Your objective, as I have been told, was only to free India, never to help the Japanese. You failed in your direct objective, i.e. to defeat the British. But you have the satisfaction that the whole Country has been roused into a new political consciousness and have begun to think in terms of Independence”. Thus Activities of INA did hasten the process of the British leaving India.


About Subhas Chandra Bose:

Full NameSubhas Chandra Bose
Birthdate and PlaceJanuary 23, 1897, Cuttack, Odisha, India
EducationStudied at the University of Calcutta and later at the University of Cambridge
Political CareerJoined Indian National Congress – Elected to Congress Working Committee in 1923 – Appointed Secretary of Bengal Provincial Congress Committee in 1924 – Resigned from Congress in 1939 due to differences – Advocated more militant action for independence – Organised the All India Forward Bloc a faction within the Congress in Bengal.
InspirationHe was highly influenced by Vivekananda’s teachings and considered him as his spiritual Guru. His political mentor was Chittaranjan Das
Formation of INAIndian National Army (INA) was founded by Mohan Singh in 1942 – Later handed over to Subhas Chandra Bose – Renamed Azad Hind Fauj by Bose
Role in INALed the INA against the British in Southeast Asia during World War II – Goal: Secure India’s independence from British rule – Named brigades/regiments after Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Azad, and himself
ContributionsRallying Indians to the cause of independence – Gaining international support for the INA – Significant impact on the independence movement despite INA’s military setbacks
Famous QuotesTum Mujhe Khoon Do, Main Tumhe Azadi Doonga” (Give me blood, and I will give you freedom!) – “Freedom is not given – it is taken.” – “Soldiers who always remain faithful to their nation, who are always prepared to sacrifice their lives, are invincible.”
DeathAugust 18, 1945 – Died in a plane crash under mysterious circumstances
Legacy and RecognitionPosthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award – Remembered as a hero of the Indian independence movement – Inspires those fighting for freedom and justice
His Jayanti is celebrated as ‘Parakram Diwas’ on 23rd January
The Subhas Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskar is an annual award established to acknowledge and honour outstanding contributions to disaster management by individuals and organizations in India. Announced on January 23 each year, the award includes a cash prize of Rs. 51 lakh with a certificate for institutions and Rs. 5 lakh with a certificate for individuals.


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