Əsas səhifə Modern Asian Studies The War of the Springing Tigersby Gerard H. Corr

The War of the Springing Tigersby Gerard H. Corr

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Tom:
12
İl:
1978
Dil:
english
Jurnal:
Modern Asian Studies
DOI:
10.2307/312233
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The War of the Springing Tigers by Gerard H. Corr
Review by: Milan Hauner
Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 12, No. 3 (1978), pp. 524-527
Published by: Cambridge University Press
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REVIEWS

524

ment was events within the Congress; struggle with the British was, in the
years I934-39, largely irrelevant to their concerns (p. 5).
Tomlinson believes that the development of even ideologically-based
political parties (the Muslim League) or of economic pressure groups
(peasant movements) can only be understood in terms of their relationship
to the Congress institutional structure which dominated politics. He recognizes that ideological, social and economic changes certainly contributed to
political mobilization in the I930s,. but regards groups motivated by such
changes as only becoming important politically once they formed political
organizations. The tactics and programmes of such organizations can thus
only be understood, not in terms of their root causes, but in terms of their
relationship to the institutional structure which dominated Indian politics
in this period-namely, that provided by the Congress.
No student of the Congress in the I930s will be able to ignore Tomlinson's
imp; ortant and scholarly contribution. The broader significance of Tomlinson's work is two-fold. In the first place, he indicates how 'the origins of the
political system of independent India must be sought in the events of 1934-9,
not those of 1945-7' (P. 159). In the second place, he has begun to provide an
economic dimension to the explanation of Indian constitutional change; and,
clearly, this is a historical advance of the greatest possible importance for
understanding not only the transfer of power in India, but also the more
general decolonization process within the British empire. His introductory
chapter ('British policy and the Indian problem 1919-35') is particularly
stimulating; and undergraduates will find its succinct and cleverly-balanced
synoptic view the essential starting point for an understanding of the end of
the British empire in India, and thus elsewhere too.
Magdalene College, Cambridge

R. HYAM

The War of the Springing Tigers. By GERARD H. CORR. Osprey: London,

I975. Pp. viii, 200. /4.95.
The author is a professionaljournalist who has worked for the Daily Express
and for the StraitsTimesin Malaya. As a National Serviceman in Hong Kong
he developed a deep interest in the Chinese Red Army, which resulted in a
successful book, published in 1974.
The SpringingTigers are, generally speaking, sons of India who took up
arms during the two world wars against the British colonial power. Under
the common denominator of violent uprisings, Corr tries to weld together
the clandestine activities of the Indians spread well over all the shores of the
Pacific with those in India itself. He is, however, not entirely successful in
unveiling the connexions between the mutiny in February 1915 of the 'loyal'
Fifth Indian Regiment in Singapore with other violent manifestations of
the Indian independence movement overseas and with the terrorist tradition
in India. Unfortunately, his account is too selective and sketchy, for, though
he refers to a number of interesting episodes, he fails to mention one of the
most adventurous undertakings launched by a hostile power against the Raj
during the First World War, namely the German-sponsored 'Provisional

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REVIEWS

525

Indian Government' proclaimed in Kabul at the end of 1915, followed a
year later by a second expedition to Afghanistan. The leading German experts in guerilla warfare, Niedermayer and Wassmuss (the famous 'German
Lawrence'), operating in the area, suggested, perhaps for the first time, that
Indian prisoners-of-war, co-operating with the tribesmen, should be used to
infiltrate India from Afghanistan.
Was the Ghadrite movement-which never seriously endangered the
British position in India, as the author himself admits-a real progenitor of
the future I.N.A. (Indian Independence Army), about which more than
three-quarters of the text is written? One can establish only a superficial
connexion, for Corr's own description shows that the idea of creating the
I.N.A. during the Second World War was a mixture of military necessity
and political idealism as well as opportunism. Perhaps the most strikingly
missing dimension in the book is a clear realization of the strategic priorities
during the war, which in the case of India meant that neither Germany nor
Japan (Italy played a secondary role) was prepared to alter, let alone forsake, its military plans to help the peoples in the Orient subjected to western
colonial domination. Thus, propaganda in the name of independence
encouraged by the Axis Powers was always subject to military dicta.
Although Corr describes the emergence of the I.N.A., their organizational
difficulties, liaison problems with the Japanese, their disastrous participation
in the Japanese onslaught on Imphal and Kohima, with a fair degree of
objectivity, one senses, however, that he derived his novel information mostly
from interviews with surviving members of the I.N.A., rather than from the
less exciting research into widely scattered secondary and some primary
sources. He also lacks the knowledge of works dealing with the strategic aspects of the area concerned, in spite of his manifest interest in military matters, in order to arrange his colourful mosaic into a plausible framework. As a
journalist, Corr has the interest for lively detail, he does good reporting, but
has less time for analysis and historical reflection.
Inevitably, one has some quibbles with certain parts of his book, with his
ommissions, unprecise chronology and rather irresponsible acceptance of
unconfirmed figures. For example, Corr does not mention the importance
of the Cripps proposals also for Indians abroad. He is only partially right in
saying that the Japanese had no plans for an invasion of India in 1942, as he
seems to ignore the plans of the Imperial Navy, which, at that time, were
strategically more important, because of the contemplated link-up with the
European Axis. Incidentally, there was a plain demonstration of it during the
Easter of 1942 when a Japanese carrier-borne striking force attacked British
bases in the Bay of Bengal and Ceylon-an important episode which the
author also entirely ignores; otherwise, he would probably have chosen a
more relevant entry from the Italian Foreign Minister's Diary (p. 126). He
might also be interested to know that the Japanese, following their raid on
Ceylon, suddenly expressed to their European partners their active interest in
sponsoring a joint Axis declaration on Indian and Arab independence.
Other messages from Tokyo, notably from the German military and naval
attaches, also seemed to confirm that Japan was preparing to move in the
direction of India. It may well be that the author is more concerned with

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526

REVIEWS

land than naval warfare, but he cannot simply send men ashore from a nonexistent 'Russian cruiser Oril', because such a ship did not exist in 19I 5 (p. 14).
What he presumably had in mind was a battleship under the Japanese flag
called Iwami, which, admittedly, was known as the Orel until the battle of
Tsushima. He also has the rather odd habit of accepting unreliable figures for
granted, such as the information that in early 1915 some 700 well-armed men
had gathered on the northern frontier of Thailand (p. 33), or, in another
piece of numerical gambling, the assertion that one of the leaders of the
Indian Independence League in Bangkok had arranged the shipment of
Ioo,ooo rifles to Rangoon sometime during the First World War (p. 61).
Prominent among the SpringingTigers and chief protagonist of the story
is Subhas Chandra Bose, the Netaji ('Leader'), a former leading Congressman
and ardent Bengali nationalist with strong authoritarian ambitions. However,
Bose's important sojourn in Nazi Germany between April I94I and February I943 is condensed into a mere two pages and is full of factual errors, let
alone those of interpretation. This is entirely inadequate. The story about
Oshima's direct appeal to Hitler in January I943 (incidentally, Corr does
not realize that Hiroshi was the first name and not the surname of the
Japanese Ambassador in Berlin; p. 142-3) to agree to let Bose out of Germany
to join the independence movement in Asia is entirely invented. Bose, as far
as can be traced in German archives, had already expressed the desire to
return to Asia sometime during March 1942, before the Cripps Mission, but
his request was then explicitly rejected by Ribbentrop, the German Foreign
Minister. As for Hitler, he met Bose only once, on 27 May I942, but during
the interview he gave his consent to Bose's departure. If Bose had to wait
until February 1943 for the submarine to take him aboard, this was mainly
because of technical problems and bad communication between Berlin and
Tokyo. I wonder where Corr got the idea of calling Emilie Schenkl, Bose's
secretary and common-law wife, who bore him a daughter in September
I942, 'Mrs Subhas Chandra Bose'! When I met her in Vienna a few years
ago, she struck me as an entirely unpretentious person with no political
ambitions whatsoever, and always used her maiden name. On the other
hand, Corr is absolutely justified in reminding the reader that Bose did
nothing for those I.N.A. commanders arrested by the Japanese before his
arrival and that he totally forgot the fate of thousands of Indians slaving in
Thailand on the infamous Death Railway. He also describes the doomed
Imphal campaign with verve and objectivity, and admits that Japanesesponsored broadcast propaganda had little effect on India itself, even during
the 'march on Delhi'.
After the disaster in Burma, Bose was increasingly losing touch with reality.
Corr particularly underlines two fatal errors of judgement: Bose decided to
challenge his old rival, Gandhi, after years of cautious avoidance; and he
became adamant in his belief that he could return to India through military
means when the fortunes of war had already turned against the Axis.
Unavoidably, he must have ended up exhorting his men to fight to the death.
Taking into account Corr's shortcomings, some of which I have tried to
point out, one can nevertheless accept his fair assessment of Bose's personality
and his significance in Indian politics, including the inevitable speculation of

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REVIEWS

527

the role he would have played in India had he survived the war. Of his
personality, Corr rightly says that Bose, as an extremist himself, created
extreme reactions, 'people were either for him to the point of idolatry or they
were totally opposed.' India today is still poorly equipped to resist the
temptation of a charismatic dictator.
MILAN

HAUNER

Responsesto PopulationGrowthin India: Changesin Social, Political and Economic
Behavior. Edited by MARCUS F. FRANDA. Praeger Publishers: New
York,

1975. Pp. 277. ?0o.20.

The idea for the conference on which this book is based was a sound one.
India's population has doubled over the last thirty or forty years and its
residents, as a result, have presumably had to make social and cultural
responses in living patterns. The purpose of the conference, sponsored by the
Asia Society and held in 1974, was to examine such adaptations and, more
generally, to make a contribution toward the understanding of the impact
institutionally of rapid and enormous population growth. In particular, the
conference sought to focus on topics which, in regard to India, have been
relatively neglected and concerning which empirical knowledge is scant.
Looked into by some academics, as well as journalists and public officials
from India and elsewhere, are such topics as social interaction and religion,
the family, law and legal change, and the planning and provision of services.
No claim is made for fully-researched and carefully analyzed treatments.
The editor points out that 'most of the papers presented to the conference
were intended by their authors as speculative or provocative exercises in
areas where there has been a paucity of data or thought on the subject,
rather than finished pieces of scholarly work in areas that have been wellresearched.' (p. 2.)

Traditional perspectives, contemporary assumptions and values with
respect to population growth underlay the findings reached in most of the
papers. Repeated is the belief that population control is necessary, that it
has not been successful in India because deep-rooted values which block its
acceptance by people have not changed, and that education and re-socialization, neither of which has been so far effective, remain keys to a workable
policy of population control in the future. In an interesting article, Promilla
Kalhan tells how an intensive campaign for control by mass media techniques
failed to alter 'old values'; the resistance of social institutions and religion to
such pressure at the village level is analyzed in a paper by David Mandelbaum. In the same article and in a case study of Calcutta by Asok Mitra we
learn that rapid population increase most adversely affects the poor. That a
mobile middle class tends universally to be the social grouping most receptive
to family planning is confirmed in a comparative study of blue and white
collar families by Rama Mehta. In a short article, Marc Galanter concludes
that an observed correlation between population growth and the incidence
of civil litigation and criminal cases may suggest 'the possibility of creating

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