Tuesday 9 December 2014

Should we honour Indian soldiers of WW1 ?
Shashi Tharoor has written a  centre spread article in the " Times of India ' of today ( 9.12.2014 ), in which he states that it is time to honour the Indian soldiers who fought in France in World War 1 ( 1914-1918 ). I do not agree with this view
 What was World War 1 about ? Why was it fought ? This has to be first understood before we decide whether the Indian soldiers who fought in it should be honoured.
  World War1 was fought between The Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, that is, between Germany and Austria on the one hand, against England, France and Russia on the other.
To understand why this war was fought we must understand a few facts.
   England was the first country in the world to industrialize, its industrialization commencing around the mid 18th century.
  When industrialization reaches a certain level, foreign markets and foreign raw materials are usually sought. In other words, colonies are required. Since England was the first country in the world to industrialize, it captured the maximum number of colonies in the world e.g. India, Australia, North America, etc ( which is why English is the most common language in the world today ). France was the second country to industrialize, and so it too captured many colonies e.g. Algeria, Tunisia, Vietnam, etc
   German industrialization began later than English or French industrialization, but once it began it proceeded at a much faster pace than English or French industrialization, and after some time it caught up with the latter. It was like a race, in which one runner begins to run later than another, but by running faster it catches up with the former.
  This is exactly what happened in Western Europe. Germany, having caught up with England and France in industrialization, wanted to have colonies, just as England and France had, as markets for their industries and sources of raw materials. But by that time, most of the underdeveloped world had already been colonized by England and France. There was no empty space left.  But England and France were not willing to peacefully part with even a few of their colonies. So a war had to be fought for redistribution of colonies, and this was precisely the cause of the World War 1 ( 1914-1918 ).
  Once we understand the nature and causes of World War 1, we immediately realize it had nothing to do with the people of India. Germany was fighting England and France for redistribution of colonies. What had that to with the people of India ?
   It follows that the Indian soldiers who fought in that war on the side of the British and French were really mercenaries and  hirelings of the British and French. They fought as hired assassins to kill Germans for Anglo-French interests, not Indian interests. They may have been brave, but many hired assassins are also brave. Why then should we honour them ?


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  2. Excellent Sir. Like Germany of pre WW I, Mr. Tharoor himself is the late starter in the race for apportionment of any & every event that can even remotely perceived to be associated with nationalistic sentiment. Hence, his spirit of competitive nationalistic posturing is taking a hit on his intellectual credibility. However, unlike you, I or for that matter many other student would not dismiss his intellect as his conceptual clarity on many other issue continue to be guiding. Regards.

  3. Interesting but to me, to label a brave soldier a hired gun is akin to labeling your fraternity hired pens! Unfair to both. There is a need to acknowledge the sacrifices of our sons (they were Indians first and their deaths affected us - Indian families). Virtues of soldiering surely cannot be counted from Aug 15, 47.... Also taking your arguement of hired guns further.... do you imply that soldiers today too should not be fussed over for they work for a salary and take up a career in the armed forces , well aware of its demands and dangers?