War seeds the change. The new rules of the victor, new arrangements in different spheres of life – celebration marks the beginning, and reiterates the essence. It’s relished. It’s momentous. Bigger the war, more profound is the change. The same was true for the World War II. It was seen as a global fight against racism and inhumanity. It gave rise to the change in the world order though culminated, rather immediately, into a new prolonged war – the Cold War. The legendary pictures depicting the camaraderie and togetherness of Soviet and American soldiers, after the Berlin battle and when two sides met, disappeared quickly. But the change was lasting. Age-old British empire crumbled; and many independent states started their own journey. India was one of them.
Seventy long years have gone by. It’s now a thing of our past. Soviets have split though Russia has taken the same space as a neo-democratic state. Chinese have proven their distinction, and have displayed their economic prowess. A new world order has taken shape. And, the celebrations of victory by countries like Russia and China in recent months only seem to assert this and their positions in the world stage.
Even though India has not celebrated yet, our contribution in the Allied victory was unparalleled. A strong military of two and a half million Indians fought along with Allied forces in different war theatres across the globe. It is also more important to note that almost the same number of people died in India due to famine in the process of funding British war effort during this period.
Some critics may point out that it was also our dubious distinction of fighting on both sides of the War – on one hand, a strong participation in Allied Forces through British military after Mahatma Gandhi’s nod, and Netaji Subhash Bose led campaign supported by Nazi Germany and Japan against the same Forces on the other. But we must agree that every Indian was fighting against enemies on war fronts outside India and against hunger inside the country with a hope for independence and self-rule.
Today we have our independence from British Raj. We have gained the self-rule through a democratic system of governance. But we have not yet found any decisive victory over enemies outside or inside. We have not been able to win over hunger and poverty too.
I wonder if India should celebrate the victory in the World War II. If yes, how?