About 100 years ago on 23 Sep 1918 Indian Troops of 15 Imperial Service forces forces made a Cavalry Charge on Turkish forces entrenched at Hafia & routed them.
While Prime Minister Modi was paying his tributes at the War Memorial at Hafya, it made me wonder as to what was there in the character of these foreigners that they created a Memorial in honour of soldiers who were not of their creed caste ethnicity & belonged to a distant land & were now forgotten in their own land.
It was also a painful reminder that we have not been able to erect a War Memorial for our own Martyrs in our own land for last 70 years. In its 2014 budget, the government had made a provision of Rs 500 crore for the memorial. It is to come up near India Gate New Delhi but the proposal is still tied up in knots of broad & thick Indian red tape.
In January 2014, minutes after felicitating Lata Mangeshkar on the 51st anniversary of her song Aye mere watan ke logon, Narendra Modi, then BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, had said, “There is no country in the world where there is no war memorial. India has fought several wars, thousands of our soldiers have been martyred but there is no memorial to honour their sacrifice.”
He may not to be entirely right. India isn’t the only country without a national war memorial — the US, for instance, doesn’t have one, though it has memorials dedicated to its soldiers such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. India too has its share of memorials, such as the Victory War Memorial in Chennai and the National Military Memorial in Bangalore — not to mention the roads and lanes named after soldiers — but these are mostly to honour soldiers from those regions, not a national memorial.
It’s well-known that the most famous of war memorials in India, India Gate, was built by the British to honour Indian soldiers who fought for the Raj in World War I. But since independence, the country has fought six wars/operations, including the Indo-Pakistan wars of 1947-48, 1965, 1971, the 1962 war against China, the Kargil conflict of 1999 and the operation in Sri Lanka against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). More than 22,500 soldiers have died in these wars
We need to find an answer to these two different approaches …foreigners honouring Indian martyrs & Indians ignoring their own ???
A beautiful Memorial designed by Sir Herbert Baker honouring the sacrifice of 4742 lndian troops who lost their lives on the battle fields of France & Belgium during World War 1 exists at Neuve – Chapelle France. A video clip of ceremony honouring Indian Troops being conducted by the French playing the Indian National Anthem below.