There is a proposal to erect a statue of Subhash Chandra Bose at the India Gate and, expectedly, there are discussions about it. There are those who see the nationalism of Bose and then there are others who see a fascist in him seeking Nazi support. In the process of turning him either into a hero or a villain, I have yet to read anybody raise the following issue of importance.
In seeking Nazi support, is it possible that Bose was expressing our experience of colonialism, viz., that to us, the colonial subjects, there was no difference to be seen or experienced between what the British did to us over centuries and what the Nazis had done, were doing, and would do in the twentieth century? Is it possible that we could not differentiate between the British and the Nazis for the simple reason that there is no experiential difference between the two from the perspective of those who suffered at their hands?
That people do not seem to raise these questions in India while debating the statue of Bose is an indication of the impact of colonialism on us: this failure is a part of what I mean when I say that colonialism denies access to our experience. We cannot understand why Bose tried what he did. We fail even in asking this simple question…