Press Release on Commemorative Event hosted by India at the United Nations to mark the contribution of Indian soldiers in the First World War
1. The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations organized a Special Commemorative Event to highlight the sacrifices of Indian soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War. Ten other Missions to the United Nations including the Missions of Belgium, Egypt, France, Greece, Iraq, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania joined as co hosts of the special event. The immense sacrifices and widespread destruction caused by the War resulted in the decision of the participants in the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 to establish the world’s first inter-governmental organization, the League of Nations. As a signatory of the Treaty of Versailles, India became a founder - member of the League of Nations, the precursor of today’s United Nations.
2. The Event featured an audio visual presentation of the various War Memorials in Europe, West Asia and Africa where Indian soldiers are commemorated. On the occasion, the UN Secretary General H.E. Ban ki Moon and the President of the UN General Assembly H.E. John Ashe jointly released a publication “Indian War Memorials of the First World War”, which was conceived and edited by the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Ambassador Asoke K Mukerji.
3. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Ban ki-moon, UN Secretary General reminded the distinguished audience to “never forget the roll call of carnage” of the First World War. Quoting excerpts from an Indian Garhwali solider, the UNSG recounted the sacrifices of more than 60000 Indian soldiers who had given their lives, and stated “history often ignores such sacrifices”. Full text of his remarks at http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=7926
4. Ambassador John Ashe, President of the 68th UN General Assembly in his remarks highlighted the key lessons from the First World War, which had impacted on people across the world, primarily that of loss, and termed the war as being a “great tragedy”.
5. Ambassadors of over 60 countries, senior UN officials, and members of civil society attended the Event, which was followed by a Photo Exhibition of the First World War Memorials attended by Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.
6. The Event was organized on the eve of the hundredth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s historic letter of 14 August 1914 to the British Government in which Gandhiji had stated that India’s assistance to the War effort was guided by the idea “to share the responsibilities of membership of this great Empire, if we would share its privileges.”