John Thivy

When John Thivy was studying in London he met Mohandas Gandhi. He was inspired by the Gandhi’s determination to fight for India’s Independence. On his return to Malaya, after getting his law degree in 1932, he became actively involved in Indian nationalist movements. After attending one of Bose’s rallies in 1943, he joined the INA and subsequently took part in the Burmese Campaigns.

The British imprisoned him after World War Two at Changi Prison for his involvement in anti-colonial activities. He was released after India achieved Independence and subsequently, founded the Malayan Indian Congress, which provided a channel for the local Indians to voice their opinions on public matters.

In January 1948, he became the first official appointed by Nehru to represent the Indian Republic in Southeast Asia.



Dr Lakshmi Sahgal

Born in Madras on 24 October 1914, Dr Lakshmi came to Singapore in June 1940 after completing her medical studies. She practised gynaecology and obstetrics at a clinic in Geylang. She started off by joining the Women’s section of the Indian Independence League, where she did broadcasts and wrote articles on the nationalist movement in India. When Bose arrived in Singapore, she attended his rally out of curiosity.

What she heard changed her life. Bose’s appeal for Indian women to take up arms led her to join the INA. To her, a Women’s Regiment would not only strengthen the INA but also alleviate the societal status of Indian women. She was personally chosen by Bose to lead the Rani of Jhansi Regiment and became the only female in the Cabinet of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind, taking charge of the Ministry of Women’s Welfare.


Narayana Karrupiah

Born in India on 18 July 1925, Narayana Karuppiah left when he was nine to live with his father in Singapore. He was 18 when he attended a mass rally by Bose at the Padang and was all fired up to join the INA.

“…actually my father didn’t want me to join as he was not feeling well. But I was so spirited. I went against his wishes and joined…”
(Interview with Narayana Karrupiah with the Oral History Centre, reel 2).

Narayana applied to be trained as a platoon commander at the Azad School (Gilstead Road) and was one of the 45 youths selected by Bose from South East Asia to be trained at the Japanese Military Academy in Tokyo.


INA trainees in Tokyo, Japan, c 1940s.
INA instructors and cadets at the Azad School,
Gilstead School.


Janaki Thevar

Janaki Thevar was only 18 when she heard Bose’s appeal to Indians to give whatever they could for their fight for India’s Independence. Immediately she took off her gold earrings and donated them. She was determined to join the INA. There was strong family objection especially from her father. But after much persuasion, her father finally agreed.

Having been brought up in a well-to-do family, she initially could not adapt to the rigours of army life. On her first day, the food served made her cry. However, she gradually got used to military life and her career in the Regiment took off when she ranked first in the officer’s examinations and rose to become the second-in-command in the Women’s Regiment.




NAS Corporate Website | Archives Online | Acknowledgements | Contact Us

Copyright 2003 © National Archives of Singapore.

1 Canning Rise, Singapore 179868