Are we neglecting the sacrifices of the Brave Soldiers


May 4, 2009
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I recently came across a very thoughtful article written by Lord Megnad Desai on Remembering the Bravery of our soldiers.

This has brought a very bitter truth that are we as a nation recognise the valour and the sacrifices of our soldiers only on the 26th of January. What about the sacrifces made by our soldiers in the two World Wars as part of the BIA. India contributed the maximum number of troops in both the world wars. It was largely the Indian troops who blunted and then reversed the Japanese onslaught.

Have we in our quest of making the civilain part of the Govvt. supreme, negelcting our brave soldiers. This is something that we must discuss and debate. This state of neglect and apathy being shown by our Govt. is very dangerous.

Remembering the brave

NOVEMBER in London is the month of remembering the millions who died in the two world wars and the many since. There is Rememberance Sunday and on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11 a.m.
there is a two-minute silence on Armistice Day. All Europe observes some ritual or other. All government and opposition leaders attend, as do many soldiers, especially the survivors of older wars.
This was the first year when no veteran of the First World War was present at the Cenotaph in London. It is a solemn and moving ceremony and is televised everywhere. Many wear red poppies on their lapels as a tribute to the fallen soldiers and donate to the fund for retired soldiers.

There is also a separate ceremony for Indian (before Partition) soldiers who died in the two wars at a memorial, which has been constructed thanks to the tireless efforts of Lady Shreela Flather who raised money for the memorial. Britain has not forgotten that in each of the two great wars, two million Indian soldiers fought loyally for the Empire.

India has chosen to write this effort out of her history. The official story of the non-violent struggle for independence led by Gandhi and Congress brooks no other who can share the credit. So, the brave soldiers whose companies are inscribed on the India Gate are barely recalled on Armistice Day. Somehow these were not India's wars.

But there were Indian soldiers who fought in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and across Asian war fields. It was India's contribution in the First World War that so impressed the Imperial power that the Montagu Chelmsford reforms were announced already in 1917 even before the war ended. Despite the tragedy at Jalianwala Bagh in April 1919, the Bill to implement the reforms was passed in Parliament in June 1919. Indeed one can confidently say that it was the soldiers who won the first tranche of selfgovernment.

It was the same again in the Second World War. Congress ministries in
seven out of eleven provinces where they had a ruling majority resigned when the war was declared and insisted that India (the Congress) had to be consulted for participation in the war effort. The British paid no attention to the Congress because the Army was ready to fight and did so for all the six years of the War. The Army was recruited from the provinces where Congress did not rule. There was no elected government at the centre and in any case Defence was a reserved subject in British hands. The Congress went on complaining but the Indian soldiers performed bravely and won the gratitude of the British who were fighting for survival against Germany.

The war effort went on while the Congress was out of office in the provinces or in jail. But the newly independent India had a sterling balance of £1.5 billion thanks to war contributions. But all this is forgotten. Indeed when I compare the honour done to soldiers in UK with that in India, I am astonished at how sorely the martial achievements are neglected in India.

The birth and death anniversary of Congress leaders are remembered by the leaders of all parties, as indeed they should be. But the sacrifices of hundreds of soldiers and their silent contribution to the independence movement are hardly acknowledged.

It may be that independent India wants to disown the imperial past. But when it comes to defending the borders in Arunachal or Aksai Chin, India does not disown the boundaries drawn by the British. Indeed the Army is a continuous link with what it was before 1947 in India as in Pakistan.

The Armed forces have defended and even defined the nation in 1948, 1962, 1965, 1971, and most recently in Kargil. India has no need to treat its armed forces like stepchildren. There should be one day when the whole nation honours its fighting forces for its past, present and future sacrifices.
out of my MIND - Remembering the brave

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