Memorial to Indian forces who fell in Flanders, unveiled next to the Menin Gate, Ypres, in 2011. 'India Remembers' suggests the marigold should join the poppy as a new symbol of Indian remembrance (Photo: Centenary News)

'India Remembers' - campaign to highlight Indian sacrifice since 1914

Posted on on 24 July 2016
Share |

A campaign 'to transform the culture of remembrance' in India has been launched in Delhi on the centenary of a noted Indian cavalry charge during the Battle of the Somme.

India Remembers aims to raise awareness of the sacrifice of the Indian forces who fought in both world wars, as well as those in conflicts since independence in 1947.

More than a million troops and other personnel from undivided India were deployed overseas as part of the British Empire's forces during the First World War, serving on the Western Front, in the Middle East, Africa and Gallipoli.  

India Remembers is calling for the marigold to join the poppy as a 'unique Indian symbol' of remembrance. 

It also suggests that India adopts December 7th as an annual Day of Remembrance, or Sainik Smriti Divas, to coincide with the country's existing Armed Forces Flag Day.

"It is felt that there is a strong need for India to dedicate a specific day of remembrance which must also have a unique Indian symbol that can allow citizens here, as well as the international diaspora, to acknowledge the valour and sacrifice of the Indian Armed Forces in the service of the nation, including those who fell in the two world wars," says retired Squadron Leader Rana Chhina, of the Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research at the United Service Institution of India (USI).

The India Gate, New Delhi: focal point for the nation's remembrance and emblem for the 'India Remembers' campaign (Photo: Centenary News)

India Remembers, a joint venture between USI and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, was launched on the centenary of an Indian cavalry attack during Battle of the Somme. 

British-Indian troops of the 20th Deccan Horse charged German positions at High Wood on July 14th 1916, a rare example of the kind of assault that had been envisaged by commanders at the start of the Great War.

An India Remembers resource pack has been produced to encourage schools, colleges and community organisations to explore and remember the role of Indian troops over the past century.

Colin Kerr, Director, External Relations, Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), said: “We are launching this new resource pack in the earnest hope that we are – with our friends at USI – helping to create a greater awareness in modern India of the achievements of its armed forces in the two World Wars (and also, since then). It is a good and honourable story and needs telling."

Full details can be found on the India Remembers, CWGC and Big Ideas Company websites. See also CWGC's Forever India site for more on the story of Indian forces in both world wars.

Indian soldiers are commemorated on the walls of the Menin Gate, Ypres (Photo: Centenary News)

Also in Centenary News:

India held a series of official tributes in spring 2015 marking the centenary of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle.

*Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Indian Memorial, Neuve Chapelle, to the troops who died in France and Belgium.

*Indian leaders attended remembrance ceremonies at the India Gate, New Delhi. Opening a Centenary exhibition, President Pranab Mukherjee commended Indian soldiers who'd "etched their name in world history through their bravery and valour."

*A British tribute was held at Imperial War Museum North in Manchester.

In April 2016, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge laid a wreath at the India Gate honouring Indian First World War soldiers during a visit to Delhi. 

Sources: India Remembers, Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Images: Centenary News