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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS :Forgotten in India after fighting from world trenches 

Source: The Hindu

 

  • Prelims: Current events of international importance, world war I, World War II etc
  • Mains GS Paper I: Bilateral, regional and global grouping and agreements involving India or affecting India’s interests, Important international institutions etc

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • In Nov, 1918, the world war I ended in Europe, bringing an end to a brutal war that drew in soldiers and contributions from around the world.

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

World war I:

  • World War I (WW I): also known as the Great War, lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918.
  • Allied and Central powers: WW I was fought between the Allied Powers and the Central Powers.
  • The main members of the Allied Powers were:
    • France, Russia, and Britain.
    • The United States also fought on the side of the Allies after 1917.
  • The main members of the Central Powers were:
    • Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria.

 

Causes:

  • Expansion policy: The new international expansionist policy of Germany
  • Mutual Defense Alliances:
    • The Triple Alliance-1882 linking Germany with Austria-Hungary and Italy.
    • The Triple Entente, which was made up of Britain, France, and Russia, concluded by 1907.
  • Imperialism: The increasing competition and desire for greater empires led to an increase in the confrontation
  • Militarism: Beginning of armed race pushed the countries involved into war.
  • Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand: In June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary was assassinated.
  • Germany then declared war on Russia because Germany had an alliance with Austria-Hungary.
  • Britain declared war on Germany because of its invasion of neutral Belgium
    • Britain had agreements to protect both Belgium and France.

 

World War II:

  • It is also called the Second World War,
  • It involved virtually every part of the world during the years 1939–45.
  • The principal belligerents were:
    • Axis powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan
    • Allies—France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and, to a lesser extent, China

Causes:

  • The Treaty of Versailles: forced Germany to accept blame for the world war I
  • The League of Nations and Diplomatic Idealism: It proved not only unable to respond to these security threats but uninterested in addressing them
  • The Rise of Hitler
  • Japanese Imperialism

 

How India got involved in world war II:

  • Viceroy Lord Linlithgow declared war on Germany on India’s behalf in 1939 without consulting Indian leaders.

 

India’s contribution:

  • Almost 5(one point five)million men volunteered to fight in the Great War.
  • Indians fought in Europe, West Asia and North Africa, earning 11 Victoria Crosses along the way
  • WWII: India raised the largest ever volunteer army, of 5(two point five)million, for the Second World War.
  • Thirty-one Victoria Crosses :15 % of the total, went to soldiers from undivided India.

 

Recognition of Soldiers by British:

  • Commonwealth: In Britain, the contribution of the Commonwealth including the Indian subcontinent is memorialized in the Commonwealth Memorial Gates that lead up to Buckingham Palace
  • George and Victoria Crosses: canopy inscribed with the names of the Commonwealth recipients.

 

 

Way Forward

  • Marshal Auchinleck(Britain’s last Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army): Without Indian soldiers, non-combatant labourers, material and money, the course of both conflicts would have been very different.
  • These were not just European wars to defend foreign lands: India was threatened in the Second World War by advancing Japanese forces who got as far as Burma/Myanmar.
    • They were repulsed in the battles of Imphal and Kohima between March and July 1944.
  • These were India’s wars too: It is time to honor India’s immense contribution to the world wars and move it from a footnote in another country’s history to the main stage, where it belongs.

 

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

  1. To what extent can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically.(UPSC 2015)

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)