Honoring Its WWI Dead, India Moves On From Its Colonial Past

Discussion in 'Military History' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, Nov 13, 2014.

  1. AVERAGE INDIAN

    AVERAGE INDIAN EXORCIST Senior Member

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    It has taken a century for Britain and India to commemorate more than 70,000 Indian troops who died fighting in World War One, and it has taken India over 60 years to decide fully to mark the fallen in that and later wars.

    Over 1.4 million Indian volunteers served in Europe, Africa and elsewhere between 1914 and 1918 in what has become known as “India’s Forgotten War”. They were scarcely mentioned by either side during the 50t hanniversary in 1964.

    India has now moved on from the post-colonial period that made it difficult for it to honor the troops who had been fighting with a variety of motives for an imperial power that after the war did not respond with rapid moves towards independence. The new Bharatiya Janata Party government is also nationalistically conscious enough to want to honor Indians who fought in wars before, as well as after, independence – and probably finds it easier to do that than past Congress governments. Till now, to commemorate the dead there has only been the India Gate memorial in Delhi, erected by the British in 1931.

    The common view that now unites the former colony and its old colonial ruler emerged unpredictably at an evening event held at the Delhi residence of Sir James Bevan, the British High Commissioner, on October 30. Arun Jaitley, India’s finance minister (who till this weekend’s government reshuffle has also been the temporary but very active defense minister since the general election), paid a tribute to those who had fought in the war. He announced that a war museum covering all India’s battles would be built, in addition to a war history in printed, digital and film form that he had talked about before.

    The visiting UK Defence Secretary Minister, Michael Fallon, honored those who lost their lives, and unveiled memorials to six Indians who won Britain’s highest military honor, the Victoria Cross. India’s chief of army staff attended the reception along other senior officers and representatives of families whose successive generations had served in the Indian forces.

    When the event was first planned, it was not clear whether any senior Indian representative would bother to attend what might have been seen as an essentially British occasion. The top-level turnout was therefore significant in terms of recognizing the history, because the UK is not one of the current government’s top priority countries.

    The commemorations continued with a BBC World Service radio discussion, (recorded in Delhi a week ago) on the motives and impact of the volunteer force, and with traditional Remembrance Sunday ceremonies in Delhi and Mumbai.

    Various books have been published to bring alive a part of India’s history that has largely been ignored. One of them is by Vedica Kant, an academic who has studied the Ottoman empire and has written If I die here, who will remember me – India and the First World War, which is illustrated with original photographs and documents. Another book, by Captain Amarinder Singh, a prominent Congress politician from the Punjab, comes with the eye of a former army officer – Honour and Fidelity, India’s Military Contribution to the Great War 1914-18.

    It seems strange, looking back, that 1.4 million men should volunteer to fight in a war far from home that had absolutely no immediate impact on their country and that politicians who were then beginning to campaign for independence should not have objected to the contribution of the people and of the costs that were fully covered by India.

    Few of the soldiers would have ever travelled abroad before. When they arrived for battle, they had insufficient clothing for the cold climate and were given weapons they had never used before. They were certainly not “a patriotic army”, said one of the experts on the BBC program.

    Their contributions were controversially summed up in the broadcast by Shashi Tharoor, an author and former senior UN official who is now a Congress Party politician.

    Putting the cost to India at £30 billion in current prices, he said, “It was Indian jawans [soldiers] who stopped the German advance at Ypres in the autumn of 1914, soon after the war broke out, while the British were still recruiting and training their own forces. Hundreds were killed in a gallant but futile engagement at Neuve Chappelle. More than a thousand of them died at Gallipoli, thanks to [Winston] Churchill’s folly. Nearly 700,000 Indian sepoys [soldiers] fought in Mesopotamia against the Ottoman Empire, Germany’s ally, many of them Indian Muslims taking up arms against their co-religionists in defense of the British Empire.”

    The motives varied and included, as Vedica Kant points out, the chance to earn good money – a reason that has often led them to be dismissed unfairly in India as mere mercenaries. Kant reckons their earnings were the equivalent today of a respectable Rs25,800 a month (about $470). Some had loyalty to the King Emperor (though not as many as, it seemed, as the BBC program presenter would have liked) and a very few maybe to King and country. For most, however, it would have been the natural loyalty and bonding of a soldier with his regiment, plus the pride of going off to war and the respect that would be earned at home – though there were desertions and mutinies.

    The politicians and independence leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, who supported the war effort, did so in the belief that Britain would in return honor a commitment to hasten moves towards some form of autonomy or at least the sort of dominion status enjoyed by Australia and Canada. That however did not happen, which sharpened the subsequent demands and agitation for independence.

    With such a history, one might wonder whether the fresh awareness of India’s sacrifice might now lead to the World War One being listed among the horrors of British rule, such as the Amritsar Massacre of 1919 where 1,500 peaceful demonstrators for the independence that Britain had denied India were killed on the orders of a British general. But it seems not, because India has indeed moved on.

    John Elliott’s Implosion: India’s Tryst With Reality is published by HarperCollins, India. He can be read at ridingtheelephant.wordpress.com.

    http://www.newsweek.com/honoring-its-world-war-one-dead-india-moves-its-colonial-past-283480
     
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  3. cobra commando

    cobra commando Tharki regiment Veteran Member Senior Member

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    India to host special event in Paris to mark WW I centenary today

    New Delhi: India will on Thursday organise a special event to commemorate the centenary of World War I at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The event will be opened with a rendition of the 'French Last Post' followed by a welcome address by India's Permanent Delegate to UNESCO Ruchira Khamboj. The Permanent Delegations of Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have also extended their support to the special programme, a release said today. Their ambassadors will also address the audience. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, by the time World War I had ended in November 1918, more than a million Indian personnel had been sent overseas and over 60,000 troops got killed. The supreme sacrifice of Indian soldiers in Europe is recorded at the major World War I memorial at Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, and at the memorial for Indian soldiers in Neue Chappelle in France.
    India to host special event in Paris to mark WW I centenary today | Zee News
     
  4. cobra commando

    cobra commando Tharki regiment Veteran Member Senior Member

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  5. cobra commando

    cobra commando Tharki regiment Veteran Member Senior Member

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    As part of the centenary celebrations of World War I, the Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated an exhibition highlighting the role of India in the Great War at the Manekshaw Centre this evening (09 Mar 15). It may be noted that by the time the war ended in 1918, the Royal Indian Marine had transported or escorted 13,02,394 men, 1,72,815 animals and 36,91,836 tonnes of war stores. The Royal Indian Marine suffered 330 causalities and 80 of its personnel were decorated with gallantry awards. It is a lesser known fact that the Expeditionary Forces of the Indian Army that travelled to France, Africa and Mesopotamia to participate in the Great War were transported largely on board ships of the erstwhile Royal Indian Marine, which was the fore- runner to the Indian Navy of today. In fact, the convoy transporting the first division of the Indian Cavalry to France sailed within three weeks of the Declaration of War, on 25 Aug 1914. At the outset of the war, a number of ships were fitted out and armed at the Naval Dockyard in Bombay (Mumbai today) and the Kidderpore Docks in Calcutta (Kolkata today). The Indian Marine also kept the harbours of Bombay and Aden open through intensive mine-sweeping efforts. Smaller ships of the Indian Marine, designed for operations in inland waters, patrolled the critical waterways of the Tigris, the Euphrates and Shatt-al-Arab, in order to keep the supply lines open for the troops fighting in Mesopotamia. There was even a hospital ship operated by the Indian Marine to treat wounded soldiers. In all, the Royal Indian Marine played a vital role in supporting and transporting the Indian Army throughout the Great War and their gallant contribution can be viewed at the exhibition.
    Role of Royal Indian Marine in WW I : Press Release : Indian Navy
     
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  6. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    People in service of the british were traitors specially the hired guns. These same guys fought against the azad hind fauj.
     
  7. Compersion

    Compersion Senior Member Senior Member

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    i wish that the National War Memorial in New Delhi can be expedited and made
     
  8. ALBY

    ALBY Elite Member Elite Member

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    If gone by ur logic then AZAD hind fauj itself was made o traitors coz they were former members of IA and only got inducted out of fear of death in japanese POW camps .
    Then Gen. kariappa,Sam Manekshaw,Thimmaiyya all were traitors of this nation coz they were once part of british Indian army :tsk:
     
  9. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Did you missed the word ' Hired Guns ' read again ..

    About the title, ' Moves On From Its Colonial Past ' is actually will take no less than 150 years from today ..
     
  10. Khagesh

    Khagesh Regular Member

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    Military scientists tested mustard gas on Indians | UK news | The Guardian

     
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  11. Simple_Guy

    Simple_Guy Regular Member

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    PM Modi pays homage to the Indian soldiers commemorated at the the World War-1 memorial in Neuve Chapelle.
     

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