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India Unremembered event at India House

High Commission of India commemorated the contribution of Indian Labour Corps in World War-I by way of a ceremony at India House on June 14, 2017. This event was the initiative of High Commissioner of India to the UK, Mr. Y. K. Sinha, who decided to build upon an existing “India Unremembered” project of the Department of Communities and local Government, UK, in collaboration with Big Ideas Company & DCLG. This event, in particular, remembered the contribution of the forgotten workers who were a critical component in the World War – I effort.

This event followed the very successful commemorative effort at The Arch of Remembrance, Victoria Park, Leicester, on May 25, marking the centenary of the Labour Corps this year. High Commissioner Sinha led the community event in Leicester to commemorate the 1,174 Labour Corps men whose names are written in the heart of New Delhi on the India Gate monument. The venue choice at Leicester was particularly apt since the memorial - the Arch of Remembrance, is modelled on almost an identical design as India Gate in Delhi - both designed by Edwin Lutyens. USI of India held a ‘mirror’ event at the same time at India Gate in New Delhi, linking the sister memorials for the first time. During the ceremony, identical marigold wreaths were laid by High Commissioner Mr. Y. K. Sinha at the Arch of Remembrance in Leicester and by British High Commissioner to India Sir Dominic Asquith at India Gate in Delhi.

2017 is a special year to hold these commemoration ceremonies given the fact that 2017 was announced to be celebrated as the India- UK Year of Culture, the 70th year of Indian Independence and also the 350th Birth Anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh ji.

In India House, High Commissioner, Mr. Y. K. Sinha launched a new resource pack, The Unremembered: The Indian Story, which is a dedicated work focusing exclusively on the story of the India’s army of workers. The pack has been created with support from the India Remembers team at CAFHR, USI of India. High Commissioner Sinha spoke of the need to remember the ‘unremembered’, by way of the “India Remembers” initiative, which is an India-wide initiative designed to raise awareness of the contribution and sacrifices made by India’s servicemen and women since 1914. He mentioned that the project encourages diverse groups across India to discover, explore and remember the stories of India’s war dead. High Commissioner also emphasised on the need for the younger generation to know more about this crucial element of history which is so little known. He also released the specially commissioned marigold lapel pins, adopted as India’s new symbol of remembrance, to be worn on such remembrance events in the future as well.

During the ceremony, Mission’s Military Adviser, Brigadier Rajesh Kumar Jha spoke of the background, conception and evolution of the project. Ms Virginia Crompton, Chief Executive of Big Ideas Company, spoke of the effort that went into the twin commemorative ceremonies at Leicester and in London, and said that there is need for a sustained momentum on this initiative so well begun. The Department of Communities and Local Government was represented by Deputy Director Mr. Paul Downie who said that the UK Government considers the connections of the past a way to bring us closer today, while remembering those who served in the World War I campaigns, in front or behind the scenes, and gave their lives. He commended the High Commission’s initiative in bringing forth special focus on Indian contribution to the Labour Corps in World War I. Special speakers on the theme at the event were well known experts on the history of World War I - Prof. Sir Hew Strachan, Professor of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews and Dr. Santanu Das, Reader in Kings College.

Mission also organised a special performance by the reputed Arunima Kumar Dance Company which presented a unique Indian dance theatre performance in Indian classical dance forms Kuchipudi and Kathak, honouring the contribution of the Indian Labour corps to the WW1. The performance was based on research of case studies of the men behind the scenes who were vital to the war effort and was specially conceptualised and choreographed for the evening. Through a unique blend of contemporary style and classical Indian dance movements, the performance explored the journey and lines of the Indian labour corps personnel. The event was concluded with a Rendition on flute of the last post by Mr. Jayraj.

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Jun 27, 2017
 
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