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Sunday, May 10, 2020

VE celebrations - 75 years after ending WW II - impact on Indian freedom

More than enjoying the hard fought freedom, at times, people of this great Nation still have hangover of the slavery and praise their ruler, the British.  I have never found anything good of that slave centuries – this photo is different – at the centre is the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson accosted by a common man in a Park – imagine this happening in India.  Leave alone the dynasty rule, one cannot lift one’s finger and talk in such a manner to even a local Councillor !! – yet in someways in social media, people make wrong comments against the tall Prime Minister. 

In 1757 Mir Jafar, the commander in chief of the army of the Nawab of Bengal  secretly connived with the British, asking support to overthrow the Nawab in return for trade grants. The British forces, whose sole duty until then was guarding Company property, were numerically inferior to the Bengali armed forces. At the Battle of Plassey on 23 June 1757, fought between the British under the command of Robert Clive and the Nawab, Mir Jafar's forces betrayed the Nawab and helped defeat him. The battle transformed British perspective as they realised their strength and potential to conquer smaller Indian kingdoms and marked the beginning of the imperial or colonial era in South Asia.

Colonial India sadly  was the part of the Indian subcontinent that was under the jurisdiction of European colonial powers.  British simply looted all the wealth and took away everything from here.   The search for the wealth and prosperity of India led to the colonization of the Americas by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Only a few years later, near the end of the 15th century, Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama became the first European to re-establish direct trade links with India.  Having arrived in Calicut, which by then was one of the major trading ports of the eastern world. Their expansion into India was halted, after their defeat in the Battle of Colachel by the Kingdom of Travancore, during the Travancore-Dutch War.

The 80th  anniversary of the start of the Second World War fell  on Sep 1, 2019.  May 8 1945 marked the ending of WW II – thus the 75th  anniversary of the end of the war.. Most countries treat this global war, and their involvement in it, as defining episodes in their history and identity. India does not – as yet. The Second World War was unequivocally the most pivotal global event in 20th-century history. Its political, economic and social consequences are still being played out today. The formation of the United Nations, and the grant of permanent Security Council membership to five named countries, the victors of that war, make up one set of such consequences.

Though even Indian History failed to portray it – it hastened the Indian independence. Decolonisation was not a given at the beginning of the war. British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill actually saw the preservation of Empire as a war aim. It was US President Franklin Roosevelt who persuaded Churchill to commit to the agreement known as the Atlantic Charter – the terms of which effectively made it impossible for Britain to return to its imperial status quo after the war – and thereby triggered the global wave of 20th-century decolonisations, starting with Indian independence. Yet, India’s consciousness of the war remains intermittent. The war is one of the best-documented conflicts in world history, but India’s involvement has only recently begun to be studied in depth. And when acknowledged at all, the focus tends to be on Indian soldiers – of whom there were over 26 lakh by the end of it – and we never read about it !!

Victory in Europe Day is the day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces on Tuesday, 8 May 1945, marking the end of World War II in Europe. Several countries observing public holidays on the day each year, variously called Victory Over Fascism Day, Liberation Day or simply Victory Day. In the UK it is spelled VE Day.  Several former Soviet bloc countries like Russia, Belarus, and Serbia celebrate on 9 May as the end of all combat actions was specified at 23:00, which was already May 9 in the Russian time zone.

Two months earlier, on the Arakan coast of Burma (now Rakhine state in Myanmar), one of the key Allied army formations in the field had been the 51st Infantry Brigade, which as it happened, had just become the first entirely Indian brigade of the Raj-era Indian Army. All three constituent battalions were Indian (the British usually combined a maximum of two Indian battalions with a British or other Commonwealth battalion), and its commander was Brigadier K.S. Thimayya, the first Indian to command a brigade in action. The brigade had been successful and was closely supported from the air by Hurricane fighter-bombers of No 4 Squadron of the Indian Air Force (which, incidentally, had just been re-designated the Royal Indian Air Force). Their successes were adding to the growing narrative of the Indian armed forces’ contribution to Allied victory.

From past to present - Britain  announced another 346 coronavirus deaths, taking the UK's official fatality toll to 31,587 - but the Government is 'confident' the infection rate nationwide is below one. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed the figures, which include fatalities in all settings, at tonight's Downing Street press briefing, where he also announced public transport will be shrunk to one tenth of its pre-lockdown capacity when restrictions are lifted to keep commuters two metres apart.  The  rise in deaths is significantly lower than the previous day, when 626 people were killed by the disease - but the numbers are generally lower at the weekend due to a lag in the way they are reported and recorded.  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson  begged Britons to stay indoors during the last days of full coronavirus lockdown to avoid infections creeping back up. He tweeted: 'Thank you for all you are doing to protect our NHS and save lives. This bank holiday weekend, please stay at home, so we don't undo everything we've done so far.' Yet people poured into the nation's beauty spots to soak up some bank holiday sunshine - including the Prime Minister who this morning strolled through St James's park, where he was accosted by a passer-by.

It compounded existing accusations that the government is sending mixed messages following a flurry of reports it is preparing to ditch its 'stay at home' slogan. Mr Johnson was seen walking through St James's Park, central London swigging from a reusable Costa coffee cup, which he has been seen carrying four times this week. The new father, 55, who spent six weeks struck down with Covid-19, wore a dark suit and signalled he was getting down to business ahead of finalised the UK's route out of lockdown. As he marched to work, Mr Johnson was accosted by a passer-by, who appeared give him a piece of his mind, pointing a finger at the startled PM as a smiling woman looked on. The exchange came as thousands of Britons appeared to be ignoring the Tory leader's plea to stay indoors by heading to busy parks and markets to enjoy 26C temperatures on what is expected to be the hottest day of the year. 

Russian helicopters fly over Moscow Red Square

Miles away, Belarus  'bribed people' to attend the Victory Day parade to upstage Vladimir Putin's Russia as 5,000 troops march in the country where President Alexander Lukashenko claims coronavirus is a mass 'psychosis' that can be cured by vodka and saunas. Hundreds of Belarusians, including Second World War veterans, attended a church ceremony in Minsk that marked the 75th anniversary of the allied victory over Nazi Germany.

Many chose not to wear face masks, despite the growing coronavirus outbreak in the country. The 9.5-million ex-Soviet nation has reported more than 20,000 confirmed cases, with surges after mass public events, such as Easter services. It has been suggested students at universities are being sent texts offering $4 towards their fees next month if they attend, despite being told that their presence is voluntary, according to a BBC report.

People, colonies, masters and slave mindset !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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