Day 51: Assess the formation and impact of the Indian National Army in the context of India's struggle for independence. (250 words)

17 Jan 2024 | GS Paper 1 | History

Approach / Explaination / Answer

  • Start the answer with a discussion that sets a context for the question.
  • Discuss the formation of the Indian National Army.
  • Discuss the impact of the Indian National Army in the context of India's struggle for Independence.
  • Conclude Suitably.


The Indian National Army (INA) holds significant importance in India's freedom struggle, contributing to the broader narrative of anti-colonial resistance and shaping the path to independence. Its existence represented a shift towards armed resistance, reflecting a growing frustration with the perceived inadequacy of peaceful means.


Formation of the Indian National Army (INA):

  • Origin and First Phase:
    • The idea of creating an army out of the Indian prisoners of war (POWs) was originally that of Mohan Singh.
    • The Japanese handed over the Indian prisoners of war to Mohan Singh who tried to recruit them into an Indian National Army.
    • In September 1942, the first division of the INA was formed with 16,300 men.
  • Recruitment and Composition:
    • The INA primarily recruited Indian prisoners of war captured by the Japanese in Southeast Asia.
    • Comprising soldiers from different regions and communities, the INA aimed to be a symbol of united anti-colonial resistance.
    • Ras Behari Bose played a key role in the recruitment of Indian prisoners of war and civilians in Southeast Asia to join the INA.
  • Second Phase :
    • Subhas Bose became Supreme Commander of the INA in1943.
    • Subhas Bose formed the Provisional Government for Free India at Singapore with the famous slogan—“Give me blood, I will give you freedom”.
    • This provisional government declared war on Britain and the United States, and was recognised by the Axis powers.
  • Chalo Delhi Campaign:
    • The INA headquarters was shifted to Rangoon (in Burma) in January 1944, and the army recruits were to march from there with the war cry “Chalo Delhi” on their lips.
    • Andaman and Nicobar islands were given by the Japanese army to the INA; the islands were renamed as Shahid Dweep and Swaraj Dweep respectively
    • Colonel Malik of the Bahadur Group hoisted the INA flag for the first time on the Indian mainland at Moirang, Manipur.

Impact of the Indian National Army :

  • Boost to Nationalist Sentiments:
    • The formation of the INA boosted nationalist sentiments and aspirations for independence.
    • The high pitch and intensity at which the campaign for the release of INA prisoners was conducted was unprecedented.
    • The idea of Indians fighting against the British alongside a nationalist force resonated with many, inspiring a sense of pride and unity.
  • Mass Pressure on the British:
    • The INA's military campaigns in Southeast Asia placed considerable pressure on the British forces in the region.
    • The success of the INA in certain battles highlighted the vulnerability of the British colonial administration.
    • Mass pressure against the trial of INA POWs, sometimes described as “an edge of a volcano”, brought about a decisive shift in the British policy.
  • International Dimension:
    • The INA operated in the context of World War II, aligning with Axis powers like Japan and Germany to fight against the British.
    • This international dimension brought India's struggle to the global stage, garnering attention and support for the cause of Indian independence.
  • Legacy of Sacrifice:
    • The sacrifices made by INA soldiers, coupled with Bose's leadership, created a powerful legacy.
    • The INA became a symbol of the willingness of Indians to make the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of independence.
    • In 1946, some 1100 Royal Indian Navy (RIN) ratings of HMIS Talwar went on a strike to protest against racial and hoisted the sickle flags on the mast of the rebel fleet.


The INA's contributions and the legacy of its members played a role in shaping the ethos of post-independence India. The principles and sacrifices of the INA contributed to the narrative of a sovereign and independent nation.