INDIA'S WOMEN WARRIORS: THE RANI OF JHANSI REGIMENT AND SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE
Hildebrand, Vera Ingrid
This study addresses the history of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment (RJR), a female infantry unit of the Indian National Army formed and led by Indian nationalist politician Subhas Chandra Bose who collaborated with Japan during World War II with the aim of liberating India from British rule.It examines how progressive developments in early twentieth century India and the Indian diasporas together with the accelerating nationalism of the Indian freedom movement both expanded the role of women in society, crucial antecedents of the RJR. It analyzes how Bose's cosmopolitan upbringing and his enlightened, if complicated views of women also were essential factors for the Regiment's creation.Using interviews with two-dozen surviving Ranis and previously unavailable archival material, this study details for the first time the establishment, recruitment, mission, training and deployment of the RJR into, and the retreat from, Burma 1944-45. The study demonstrates that the young women were not trained to survive in battle in the Burmese jungle. It establishes that there were roughly five hundred members of the Regiment, not one thousand five hundred as frequently cited in scholarly literature. The study confirms that only twenty women fighters were deployed as far as northern Burma, but still three hundred miles from the front. It shows that despite the commonly held view that the RJR fought bravely against the Imperial Raj, it never engaged in combat despite the profound desire of its members to attack the enemy.
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