At Sunset on 28 May 22, the Naval Ensign atop the INS Gomati was hauled down for the last time. India has decided after INS Gomati’s decommissioning, that the ship’s legacy will be kept alive in an open-air museum being set up on the picturesque banks of the river Gomti in Lucknow, where several of her combat systems will be displayed as military and war relics. Battleships decommissioned in the future will also be developed as museums to attract general public-on ground and on water too. This is good news because whenthe first INS Vikrant was decommissioned, it was first a museum ship from 2002 to 2012 and was then scrapped..
While in the US in 2014, this writer visited the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, located in midtown Manhattan on the Hudson River, which is a fascinating and educative sea, air and space museum. Alongside USS Intrepid is a cruise missile submarine, USS Growler, a Concorde SST (supersonic transport), a Lockheed A-12 supersonic reconnaissance plane, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise. On the lower deck there is also a reproduction of a World War I biplane. All these aremuch visited daily by both adults and children.
Thereafter this writer visited Arlington the Arlington National Cemetery, which was an emotional experience for not only this writer but soldiers and civilians too. The crowds that come to visit national war memorials in the US are a testimony to the fact that no matter what the cause of deployment in any conflict even those publicly perceived as futile or unnecessary, the respect that dead soldiers get is indeed wide and heartfelt.
In India, it took seventy-two years for the National War Memorial to be made befittingly near New Delhi’s India Gate, where it now occupies a huge stretch opposite the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium (formerly National Stadium).
India Gate and the Teen Murti statues were made by the British to honour well over 70,000 Indian soldiers who were killed in World War I, of the one and a half million who fought in that war and were a major winning factor. All their names are etched on the India Gate. Teen Murti was made to honour the Indian Cavalry and since 2018 (100 years after the end of World War I), it was renamed as Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk. This was because of Israel honouring the Indian Cavalry Brigade for saving Haifa from the then enemy forces. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Haifa in July 2017, he unveiled a plaque commemorating the leadership of Major Dalpat Singh who led the successful operation. Israeli school history textbooks include high praise of the Indian soldiers. In January 2018, Mr. Modi broke protocol by receiving the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the airport and driving first to Teen Murti for the renaming.
The history of a nation must not only be taught in schools, but also be displayed, because it is important to learn from it to deal with the future and for inculcating national pride.
In World War II, two and a half million Indian soldiers, sailors and airmen participated and were again a major winning factor for the Allies. Many more Indian personnel were killed in that war and had the British made a memorial for them it would have had to be much larger than India Gate. But that was not to be, because some Indian airmen facing discrimination/neglect sparked a mutiny, which rattled the British. The fear of this mutiny spreading was one of the reasons why S the British left India in a great hurry.
The history of a nation must not only be taught in schools, but also be displayed, because it is important to learn from it to deal with the future and for inculcating national pride. Suppression of history only creates minefields like the ones in India, which have “exploded” like Babri, Gyanvapi, Malali and many more which may do so in the future.
INSs Nishank and Akshay which are due to be decommissioned on 03 June2022 and battleships decommissioned in the future should also be developed as museums -on ground or on water- to attract general public, as they will be great catalysts for education with entertainment and most important, will help enhance the inculcation of national pride among Indian public-something we can well do with good dozes of.