No, Ittehad was not in the motto of Azad Hind Fauj of Netaji

On 23 January, the nation was celebrating the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the supreme leader of Azad Hind Sarkar and Azad Hind Fauj. People from all ideological hues tried hard to co opt this great son of the soil. His popularity and broad spectrum of ideas can be gauged from the fact that not only the followers of different political parties celebrated him, they cherry picked his writings to attack their political or ideological rivals. I do not mind these attempts, rather it makes me happy that at least, instead of all the differences, all the Indians still stand united behind Netaji and his Azad Hind Fauj. 

What intrigued me is the fact that while trying to prove their point many Urdu lovers, anti BJP people, and left liberals pointed out the language of the motto of Azad Hind Fauj. Though they were correct in pointing out that the three words motto of the Fauj was of Persio-Urdu origin, most of these famous Twitter celebrities got the motto wrong.

Famous journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani, Abhishek Baxi, Sitaram Yechury and web journal thewire tweeted the motto as “Ittehad, Etemad, Qurbani”  with translation as ‘Unity, Trust, Sacrifice’. 


While the actual motto wasIttefaq, Etmad, Kurbani” which translated to ‘Unity, Faith and Sacrifice. The motto is well documented in the different records from the period and memoirs of officers. Kesar Singh Giani, the civil administrator of the Azad Hind Sarkar, writes in ‘INDIAN INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT IN EAST ASIA’;

“They (soldiers of the Fauj) wore a badge on the left side of the forage cap, on the top of the badge were inscribed the words “I. N. A.” with a map of India in the centre. At the bottom of the badge were inscribed in Roman Script: “Ittefaq, Etmad and Kurbani” meaning Unity, Faith and Sacrifice. They also used to wear another badge on the right side of their uniform. It was marked with the tricolour map of India. A locket sized badge bearing a miniature of Netaji was worn on the left side of the uniform.” 

The motto can be easily read on the badges, which are conserved at different museums.

Cap of Azad Hind Fauj


Badge of Azad Hind Fauj

Interestingly, famous fact checker Mohammad Zubair of ‘alt news’ ‘corrected’ his correct tweet with ‘Ittefaq’ as ‘Ittehad’. He must have fact checked it to do this.


Though it is not the case that everyone has got the motto wrong, several people like Makarand Paranjape of JNU, a leftist twitter influencer Advaid and others got the motto correct.


A right leaning Professor Makarand Paranjape wrote in an article published with Firstpost, Azad Hind, on the other hand, literally means “free India” — instead of the Sanskritic svaraj, Bose uses azad, a Persio-Urdu word, much more commonly understood by the masses. Under Bose, the INA’s motto of Ittefaq (Unity), Itmad (Faith), and Kurbani (Sacrifice) no doubt preferred Hindustani words of Persio-Arabic extraction, but the invocation of spiritually-charged terms such a “faith” and “sacrifice” remained.”



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Mahino Fatima

Dr. Mahino Fatima is a young scientist by profession and a writer by passion. Her research fields are neurobiology, genetics, environmental sciences etc.

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