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Death of a non-conformist doctor

July 24, 2012

Captain Lakshmi Sehgal is no more. She died at the age of 98 in Kanpur.

She was the captain of the women’s regiment of the Indian National Army of Subhash Chandra Bose.

Her life story reads more like an exciting fictional tale than the biography of a medical doctor. Born to parents who were non-conformist but belonged to the elite, she grew up with little of the shackles of traditional culture and insecurity that other children have to contend with. It must have enabled her to take life’s decisions solely on the basis of her urges and convictions.

The motivations of the Japanese imperialists who incubated the INA are highly suspect. They had far fewer credentials than the captains of Western imperialism waging war from London – the Western warlords did say that the war was being fought to keep the world “free” for its peoples, and their past was better. Leaders of the Indian community in Singapore were confused, and the perceptive amongst them did choose not to fall into the Japanese trap. Yet Bose did.

I am not able to fathom Bose’s reasons, he having been by all accounts a super-intelligent being. May be he had faith that he could out-maneuver the Japanese.

That she joined the INA then; that she joined certain other political formations in later life; illuminates the choices a restless person has, when one wants to do “good”, in the given times and environment.

To follow a star that (one hopes) does not play false, a compass that does not lie, is a path only a few take, and that too after life’s “responsibilities” have been dealt with in most cases. A sort of vanaprastha. I envy those who have the courage, and do so in their youth.

Tailpiece: We have been seeing children falling into bore holes in Haryana and elsewhere regularly. This link shows you Michelle Parson’s horse being rescued from a shallow collapsed well:


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  1. Induchoodan permalink

    I think Bose was absolutely right in allying with the Japanese because the basic idea was to awaken the lazy Indian psyche which had become comfortable with its subjugation by a foreign power. Once the people are aroused, no foreign power could have kept us under its control. Basically India had to rediscover male aspect of its psyche to become free. Gandhi only reinforced the passive aspect of the Indian psyche in a manner of speaking. We suffer from this malice even now. The anger and the deep seated anguish against the injustices in the society is missing in Indians even now. Possibly we needed a Bose to precede a Gandhi. I have a feeling that India followed Gandhi as it was psychologically more convenient. Morality of the method might have been only secondary. It is worth a deeper analysis.

    • It’s the futility of the solution that strikes me!

    • L.Kalavathi permalink

      Capt Lakshmi Segal – the name was writ in red in the pages of a ledger in BOI Madras
      Main Branch in 1972. I came to know of her inspiring life soon after and became acquainted
      with other members of her family. How strange that this determined lady was not bestowed
      with the Bharat Ratna in her lifetime! I salute her efforts to free the arrested Burmese
      freedom seekers. We need more brave souls like hers.
      May her soul rest in peace but not before haunting the corrupt and the cowardly in the
      power precincts of India/the world.
      Karl (Kalavathi)

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