- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- To what extent can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically.(UPSC 2015)
(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)