On a trip many years ago to New Delhi, I was struck by an official memorial to Subhas Chandra Bose, the wartime leader of the Indian National Army, the Japan-affiliated force of Indians who fought against the British during the Second World War. India, of course, has a more complex view of the fight against Japan than other countries involved in the War—with these soldiers being contentious, debated and, at times, celebrated.
In this interview, I’m joined by Tanvi Srivastava, translator of The War Diary of Asha-san: From Tokyo to Netaji’s Indian National Army. The book is a unique historical document showing the life of Lt Bharati ‘Asha’ Sahay Choudhry, a 17-year-old Indian girl, raised in Japan, who signed up to fight the British in 1943. While she never quite makes it to the frontlines, her story—as translated by her eventual grandaughter-in-law, Tanvi—discusses the war’s events from a different vantage point.
Tanvi Srivastava also writes fiction and was a member of the 2021 cohort of the Write Beyond Borders programme funded by the British Council. She has been published in journals like Kitaab, Gulmohur Quarterly, New Anthology of Asian Writing, and The Reading Hour. She can be followed on Twitter at @tanvisrivastava and on Instagram at @tanvisrivastava_a.