New Delhi: Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday tasked Army chief Gen. Dalbir Singh with preparing a structured history of all the wars that India Army has fought.
Jaitley said that there is a need today to have a structured history of the contribution of Indian soldiers, both in book and the digital format. "That is something which has been missing. I've just requested the army chief," Jaitley said at the commemoration ceremony of India's contribution to World War I, which was organised by the British High Commission.
Noting that scholarly work is required in this regard, Jaitley said at the event, "The United Service Institution of India has said they have a lot of material on some recent wars... So, I don't see why that can't be done."
He added that the government was in the process of finalising the plan for the setting up of a war memorial, particularly for those who have been martyred or made great contribution post 1947. The Defence Minister, earlier, expressed a similar view at the 'Smarananjali' programme organised on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
"I have started having this feeling that the history of these wars, its compendium, is made available so that future generations can know about it," Jaitley said. The 'Smarananjali' programme was organised to pay tributes to those soldiers who died in the line of duty while defending the country in the 1965 war.
Singer Kavita Krishnamurthy Subramaniam, Suresh Wadkar and violinist L Subramanian were among those who performed at the event. The Army chief, Air Force Chief Arup Raha and Navy Chief Admiral RK Dhowan were also present during the programme.
Recalling that the 1965 war took place during his school days, Jaitley said that the names of Lt. Col. Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore and Hawaldar Abdul Hamid had become household names. "None can forget their sacrifices," he said. The 1965 war event was organised by Doordarshan. It was conceptualised in the form of a lyrical tribute by artistes to the martyrs. The Defence Minister also honoured Capt. Bana Singh and Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav (both recipients of Param Vir Chakra) at the function.
"Respecting them (soldiers) is, in a way, fulfilling the responsibility of national duty. Ingratitude is considered a sin. The country is one today because of the sacrifices of the soldiers," he said.
Jaitley also praised the efforts of the soldiers during natural calamities in Uttarakhand last year and in Jammu and Kashmir this year. Meanwhile, at the British High Commission function, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that Indian soldiers had distinguished themselves in every theatre of war with more than 9,000 of them winning gallantry medals, including six Victoria Cross recipients.
"Such heroism must be recognised," he said. Britain had entered the war on August 4, 1914. Over 1.1 million Indian servicemen fought in WWI and there were around 70,000 fatalities. The UK has funded a battlefield guidebook which will be available through USI for those families wishing to visit the France and Flanders battlefields.
It has also funded, in conjunction with USI, a coffee table book giving a pictorial overview of India and the Great War, besides digitising the War Diaries of the India Corps that fought in France and Flanders. These were presented to the Indian government.
Memorials for the six Victoria Cross winners were also presented to the Government of India. World War I, which started on July 28, 1914, and finished on November 11, 1918, involved all of the world's great powers. It saw 70 million combatants in action of which, more that 9 million were killed.