How Singapore gave India a pleasant surprise days before 75th Independence anniversary
A statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, one of the most prominent leaders of the Indian Independence Movement. (Photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP via Getty Images)
Singapore on Tuesday (9) declared its iconic green site Padang, from where Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose gave the slogan of ‘Delhi Chalo‘ (Let’s storm Delhi) in July 1943, as its 75th national monument as the city-state celebrates its 57th National Day.
The large field, popular for sporting events such as cricket, football, hockey, tennis and lawn bowling, is one of the oldest open spaces continuously used since the 1800s.
The Padang was gazetted on Tuesday as Singapore celebrated its 57th National Day amid a parade by uniform groups and colourful display of local culture and dances by schools and civic groups.
In view of its strong national, historical and social significance, the Padang is now preserved and accorded the highest level of protection in Singapore under the Preservation of Monuments Act, said the National Heritage Board (NHB).
The Padang, meaning a field in Malay, was distinguished by its public nature, as one of the only few open spaces accessible to the public in the colonial period, said NHB. Professor Rajesh Rai, Head, South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, recapped the Padang’s link to Indian National Army (INA).
“The Padang has special significance for the Indian community in Singapore. It was here that Indian sepoys first established their camp sites when the British established their outpost on the island,” he told the Press Trust of India.
“This was also the place where Netaji delivered several speeches to the tens of thousands of INA soldiers and the local Indian population. It was here that he gave the Delhi Chalo slogan, set up the Rani of Jhansi regiment, and called for the total mobilisation of Indian resources to free India from British rule. Just before the war ended Bose established the INA memorial at the southern edge of the Padang,” he said.
“Today, a historical marker for the INA remains at the site,” Rai added.
The 200-year-old Padang joins 74 other National Monuments in Singapore, seven of which are related to the Indian community in the multinational city-state.
The victory parade of the Japanese surrender on September 12, 1945 was held on the Padang, which has since been witnessing Singapore’s history, including the victory rally of the first fully elected Legislative Assembly on June 3, 1959, the installation of Yusof Ishak as the first Malayan-born Yang di-Pertuan Negara (head of state) and the unveiling of National Symbols on December 3, 1959; as well as the inaugural National Day Parade on 9 August 1966.