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Fwd: "THE MISSING MONUMENT"- ADMIRAL (RETD) ARUN PRAKASH

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  • Thiagarajan Arunachalam
    From: kv chari http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1106278/ * * [image: Indian Express] The missing monument Arun Prakash Apr 23 2013
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 25, 2013
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      From: kv chari <kvchari@...>




      Indian Express

      The missing monument

      Arun Prakash

      Apr 23 2013


      [Unlike in India, cities across the world have war memorials in central locations]

      Not long ago, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit remarked that a national war memorial around India Gate would clutter up a recreational space and hinder people’s enjoyment.

      But surely the Delhi administration can create such spaces elsewhere? Pleasure seekers might find more appropriate places than Edwin Lutyens’ grand central avenue, leading from India Gate to the elegant Rashtrapati Bhavan, with the imposing North and South Blocks guarding its flanks.

      The civilised world’s capitals are replete with heroic statues of soldiers, with squares and avenues named after generals, admirals and famous battles. In India, we mostly celebrate politicians, along with a few saints, film stars and cricketers. But soldiers seem to be anathema.

      It is worth asking whether the Delhi CM would have opposed a memorial to a politician or religious figure on the grounds that it would be a hindrance to people’s enjoyment or that it would spoil the environment. Ever since Independence, the Indian politico-bureaucratic establishment has typically regarded its soldiers, sailors and airmen with a certain disdain.

      This is bizarre and incomprehensible, considering that a soldier laid down his life for the country just days after Independence. Lieutenant Colonel Dewan Ranjit Rai earned glory and a posthumous Maha Vir Chakra for fighting Pakistani raiders near Baramulla.

      In the 66 years since then, there has scarcely been a day in the life of our embattled nation that a grieving family somewhere has not welcomed a hero, brought home in a tricolour-draped coffin.

      The war memorial, if one is ever created, will be a small tribute to the memory of the young men who gave their lives for the nation.

      It has been the gallantry, patriotism and selfless sacrifice of these young men that repeatedly saved the nation from disintegration and dishonour, as our strategic naivete led to adventurism by neighbours in 1947, 1962, 1965 and 1999.

      The refusal to pay homage to fallen soldiers on the anniversaries of the Bangladesh and Kargil wars, or to the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka, on specious political grounds is unforgivable, especially since Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka celebrate these events in their own ways.

      The crowning national ignominy is the fact that the Sri Lankan government has been gracious enough to erect an impressive monument to the IPKF dead, while these brave soldiers remain unsung in their own motherland.

      Whether it is the Arlington Memorial in Washington, the Cenotaph in London, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris or the impressive Jatiyo Smriti Soudho in Dhaka, these magnificent monuments embody the pride of nations and the spontaneous desire of citizens to acknowledge the sacrifice of their national heroes, the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have fallen in the country’s wars.

      All these are in prime locations in the heart of the city. Far from spoiling the environment, they evoke deeply patriotic sentiments.

      In India, it is only the armed forces who pay homage to their own, at the Amar Jawan Jyoti erected below India Gate. There are two bits of irony here, which seem to escape everyone.

      First, India Gate is a war memorial erected by the British in memory of soldiers of who lost their lives in World War I and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. Although most of the names engraved on the granite walls are Indian, the monument does not celebrate a national war.

      Second, free India’s contribution to this imposing monument is merely a rifle lodged, muzzle-first, in stone, with a helmet perched on its butt. The symbol is recognised across the world as an ad hoc battlefield marker for a soldier’s temporary grave.

      For a politico-bureaucratic establishment that has stubbornly refused to acknowledge, by word or deed, the sterling contribution of the soldier to India’s freedom struggle, its post-Partition consolidation and to combating the repeated assaults on its territorial integrity, the construction of a national war memorial at a central location in the Capital would be a belated but welcome gesture.

      It would bolster the pride and morale of not just a million and a half Indian men and women bearing arms, but also of the large fraternity of veterans who “gave their today for our tomorrow”.

      The writer is a retired chief of naval staff


    • rsubhash@rocketmail.com
      Well said, Arun Saheb. It is a sad commentary, indeed, on our national character. Sheila Dixit was totally tone deaf when she uttered that shameful statement
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 25, 2013
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        Well said, Arun Saheb.

        It is a sad commentary, indeed, on our national character.  Sheila Dixit was totally tone deaf when she uttered that shameful statement that a war memorial at India Gate is a clutter and will hinder people's enjoyment of the place.  The truth is that this War Memorial would make the grounds more hallowed and welcoming to the citizens of India to enjoy India Gate a thousand times more.  Perhaps, Dixit is a closet Inglis colonialist still shackled to the Empire!

        Just as you so aptly explained what India Gate is, that Monument dedicated to the memory of the soldiers who gave their life in the many British wars.  A National Monument to serve as a War Memorial in honour of the Indian Soldiers who laid their lives to protect their nation so their fellow Indians have their Freedom and Security, you can call it India's Freedom Memorial, would be most appropriate.  In fact, this National War Memorial or Freedom memorial, or whatever name you give it but, so long as it is dedicated to the Indian Soldiers who died in so many wars thrust upon India would be more fitting than the India gate itself.

        In fact, such ar Memorials or Freedom memorials ought to be built in the capitals of every state at the most prime location.  They should be grand and monumental with beautiful lawns and parks surrounding them.  There should be Grand Avenues, even grander that Champs Elysee in Paris. They will attract throngs of Indians to come and pay respect to their Jawans.  The Memorials will actually impart and enhance the citizen's enjoyment.

        The ugly statues and Memorials in memory of all those nincompoop and corrupt politicians all over India are a blight to the surroundings.

        I wonder if India will ever be blessed with true leaders who love, respect and take pride in their motherland and so govern the nation for the betterment and glory of the citizens of India.

        Subhash C Reddy, Ph. D.

        --- In karmayog-hyd@yahoogroups.com, Thiagarajan Arunachalam wrote:
        >
        > From: kv chari kvchari@...
        >
        >
        > http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1106278/
        >
        >
        > * *
        > [image: Indian Express]
        > The missing monument
        > Arun Prakash
        >
        > Apr 23 2013
        > *
        >
        > [Unlike in India, cities across the world have war memorials in central
        > locations]
        >
        > *
        > Not long ago, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit remarked that a national
        > war memorial around India Gate would clutter up a recreational space and
        > hinder people's enjoyment.
        >
        > But surely the Delhi administration can create such spaces elsewhere?
        > Pleasure seekers might find more appropriate places than Edwin Lutyens'
        > grand central avenue, leading from India Gate to the elegant Rashtrapati
        > Bhavan, with the imposing North and South Blocks guarding its flanks.
        >
        > The civilised world's capitals are replete with heroic statues of soldiers,
        > with squares and avenues named after generals, admirals and famous battles.
        > In India, we mostly celebrate politicians, along with a few saints, film
        > stars and cricketers. But soldiers seem to be anathema.
        >
        > It is worth asking whether the Delhi CM would have opposed a memorial to a
        > politician or religious figure on the grounds that it would be a hindrance
        > to people's enjoyment or that it would spoil the environment. Ever since
        > Independence, the Indian politico-bureaucratic establishment has typically
        > regarded its soldiers, sailors and airmen with a certain disdain.
        >
        > This is bizarre and incomprehensible, considering that a soldier laid down
        > his life for the country just days after Independence. Lieutenant Colonel
        > Dewan Ranjit Rai earned glory and a posthumous Maha Vir Chakra for fighting
        > Pakistani raiders near Baramulla.
        >
        > In the 66 years since then, there has scarcely been a day in the life of
        > our embattled nation that a grieving family somewhere has not welcomed a
        > hero, brought home in a tricolour-draped coffin.
        >
        > The war memorial, if one is ever created, will be a small tribute to the
        > memory of the young men who gave their lives for the nation.
        >
        > It has been the gallantry, patriotism and selfless sacrifice of these young
        > men that repeatedly saved the nation from disintegration and dishonour, as
        > our strategic naivete led to adventurism by neighbours in 1947, 1962, 1965
        > and 1999.
        >
        > The refusal to pay homage to fallen soldiers on the anniversaries of the
        > Bangladesh and Kargil wars, or to the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in
        > Sri Lanka, on specious political grounds is unforgivable, especially since
        > Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka celebrate these events in their own
        > ways.
        >
        > The crowning national ignominy is the fact that the Sri Lankan government
        > has been gracious enough to erect an impressive monument to the IPKF dead,
        > while these brave soldiers remain unsung in their own motherland.
        >
        > Whether it is the Arlington Memorial in Washington, the Cenotaph in London,
        > the Arc de Triomphe in Paris or the impressive Jatiyo Smriti Soudho in
        > Dhaka, these magnificent monuments embody the pride of nations and the
        > spontaneous desire of citizens to acknowledge the sacrifice of their
        > national heroes, the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have fallen in the
        > country's wars.
        >
        > All these are in prime locations in the heart of the city. Far from
        > spoiling the environment, they evoke deeply patriotic sentiments.
        >
        > In India, it is only the armed forces who pay homage to their own, at the
        > Amar Jawan Jyoti erected below India Gate. There are two bits of irony
        > here, which seem to escape everyone.
        >
        > First, India Gate is a war memorial erected by the British in memory of
        > soldiers of who lost their lives in World War I and the Third Anglo-Afghan
        > War. Although most of the names engraved on the granite walls are Indian, the
        > monument does not celebrate a national war.
        >
        > Second, free India's contribution to this imposing monument is merely a
        > rifle lodged, muzzle-first, in stone, with a helmet perched on its butt.
        > The symbol is recognised across the world as an ad hoc battlefield marker
        > for a soldier's temporary grave.
        >
        > For a politico-bureaucratic establishment that has stubbornly refused to
        > acknowledge, by word or deed, the sterling contribution of the soldier to
        > India's freedom struggle, its post-Partition consolidation and to combating
        > the repeated assaults on its territorial integrity, the construction of a
        > national war memorial at a central location in the Capital would be a
        > belated but welcome gesture.
        >
        > It would bolster the pride and morale of not just a million and a half
        > Indian men and women bearing arms, but also of the large fraternity of
        > veterans who "gave their today for our tomorrow".
        >
        > The writer is a retired chief of naval staff
        >
        > express@...
        >
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