Wellington, December 16, 2018
Former Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand has acknowledged the contributions of India in World War I, describing it as ‘the largest single contribution by any colonial country to the war effort.”
“There were, it is said, some 1.5 million combatants and non-combatants involved. Of these more than 70,000 people were killed and over 80,000 people injured. India also contributed food, animals, medicines,” he said.
Sir Anand was speaking at the Premier screening of the film, ‘Farewell My Indian Soldier’ in Parliament on Thursday, December 12, 2018.
The Premier was hosted by Ekta New Zealand Inc with three National MPs.
Courage and Sacrifice
Sir Anand that the ‘docu-fiction film,’ as it is called, “has been indeed a moving portrayal of Indian soldiers who went and fought in France and Belgium during the First World War. In the film, Vijay Singh has recounted the story of Indian soldiers through the eyes of love and human affection.”
It showed two Indian-Anzac soldiers, Ratan Chand Mehra who was killed in Europe in 1915 and Jagat Singh, who was injured in Gallipoli.
Significant to New Zealand
According to him, the film was significant to New Zealand because both men belonged to this country, respectively as members of the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade (killed in Ypres on December 3, 1917) and of the Wellington Mounted Rifles (wounded in the Battle of Chunk Bair in August 1915).
Four Important Reasons
Sir Anand cited four reasons for the screening of the film, the first of which was the commemoration of the completion of 100 years of the end of World War I.
It is important to remember the men who have largely been forgotten as time passes, as well as those more well known, he said.
“Secondly, as we in New Zealand 100 years on from the end of WW1 embrace diversity, it is also appropriate to acknowledge the contribution to world order by the forebears of later migrants to New Zealand. It can be said that their history is also the history of our people,” he said.
Sir Anand said that that third reason was that although WW1 is often characterised as a European endeavour, there were in fact a number of nationalities involved, for example Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabs, West Indians, African, and Indians as well as Pacific Islanders.
“Fourthly, it has been revealed in more recent times that people of Indian origin from Malaya, Singapore, Fiji, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, took part in the war,” he said.
The Beehive Significance
Sir Anand described the Beehive Theatrette, the venue of the Premiere as “A place where a great many important items are announced or spoken about generally at the behest of the government of the day.
He also credited the event’s Parliamentary hosts, MPs Chris Bishop, Brett Hudson and Greg O’Connor as ‘People, each well-known local MPs and who need to be acknowledged for their support of things affecting the Wellington Indian community.”
Editor’s Note: A related story, posted earlier today, is available here.