SOCIETY

 

The making of a memorial
Manohar Singh Gill
writes about his efforts to have the India Gate converted into a National War Memorial. Here he discloses the correspondence between him and Army Generals, including the then Chief of the Army Staff, Gen S.H.F.J. Manekshaw

At the last Vijay Divas celebrations, the Defence Minister indicated to the Army Generals that a war memorial-cum-museum was under consideration. It appears to me that the Defence Minister had not been shown the files of 36 years ago, when this matter was considered, and settled by the authorities. I had something to do with it. I come from a family of soldiers. I grew up with the Army, and have always taken a deep interest in the Forces.



The India Gate became the National War Memorial after the Bangladesh War


The India Gate became the National War Memorial after the Bangladesh War
Case of overkill
A media professor in the UK who was in India recently says real news in Indian TV is being replaced by a relentless coverage on Bollywood and the three Cs — celebrities, criminals and cricket.

Pamper your feet
Anjana Sarin
Our feet not only help us move around but also support our whole body weight. So it is important that our feet should be pampered for the hard work they do. However, it has been found that women pay little attention to care about their feet as compared to other body parts.

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The making of a memorial

Manohar Singh Gill writes about his efforts to have the India Gate converted into a National War Memorial. Here he discloses the correspondence between him and Army Generals, including the then Chief of the Army Staff, Gen S.H.F.J. Manekshaw

A tribute to the unknown soldier at the India Gate.
A tribute to the unknown soldier at the India Gate. — Photos by Mukesh Aggarwal 

At the last Vijay Divas celebrations, the Defence Minister indicated to the Army Generals that a war memorial-cum-museum was under consideration. It appears to me that the Defence Minister had not been shown the files of 36 years ago, when this matter was considered, and settled by the authorities.

I had something to do with it. I come from a family of soldiers. I grew up with the Army, and have always taken a deep interest in the Forces. At the end of 1969, while I was in the Punjab Government, it occurred to me that the Indian Army, one of the most magnificent in the world, did not have a memorial to its war dead. On December 3, 1969, I dashed off a letter to General S.H.F.J. Manekshaw, the then Chief of the Army Staff. I wrote:

"Dear General,

Most countries in the world have a memorial to the unknown warrior, in their capital cities. The memorial commemorates all soldiers who have fallen in defence of their country. Their memory is kept alive, and serves as a reminder of their services. The Cenotaph in London is well known. I have seen similar memorials in Paris, Athens and Moscow.

It is odd that we in this country have not thought of having such a memorial. It is all the more surprising, when one considers, that a memorial, in the shape of the India Gate, already exists. The Gate may have been built, in memory of Indian Soldiers who died in World War I, but to my mind, it is essentially a memorial to the Indian War dead. While the Cenotaph in London is an insignificant concrete pillar in the middle of a busy road, the India Gate is, perhaps, the most impressive memorial anywhere, to fallen warriors.

In order to convert it into a living memorial, all that is required is to put on it flags of the services formations, as in London, an honour guard, and to start the practice of laying wreaths at this memorial, in memory of the brave men who are no more. We too should start the practice of inviting visiting dignitaries to pay their respect at this memorial. I am making this suggestion to you in the hope that the idea will be put through with speed."

The letter was answered on January 28, 1970, by the then Adjutant General, Lt Gen Har Parshad. He wrote:

"My Dear Mr Gill,

I have been directed to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 3.12.1969 addressed to General Manekshaw, Chief of the Army Staff.

The question of a proper war memorial, in remembrance of the soldiers, who laid down their lives for the defence of their country, has been under consideration for some time. You will agree with me that it should be of a permanent nature, not only for those who are dead, but also to inspire future generations. After considerable thought it was felt that it should take the shape of a memorial-cum-museum in Delhi. In view of this, it will be unnecessary, to have a separate memorial for the Unknown Soldier. The Government has promised to allot land for a National War Memorial in Delhi, and also some funds, and I hope in due course work on this project will be started."

I was a little surprised at the rejection of my suggestion, and also touched by the innocence of the Army brass. With my knowledge of the bureaucracy, I was quite sure that it would take them years and years, to process the idea on file. Many more years would pass before funds are sanctioned and, finally, the CPWD would come up with some horribly vulgar structure. I, therefore, thought it worthwhile to persist and warn the Army where its thinking was likely to lead it. On February 4, 1970, I wrote to Gen Har Parshad thus:

"There is no doubt that there is a need for an Army museum in Delhi. However without meaning to intrude, I would submit, that the mixing of the museum with the memorial might not be the very best of things. As you have indicated, this combined project is still to be sanctioned, and the funds found. It would probably take a long time to build. I personally feel that there is every danger that this would be located in some unimportant corner of the Capital, and the CPWD would perpetrate another architectural horror on the Capital. I hope I am wrong, but I fear I may be right.

On the other hand, the India Gate is one of the most glorious monuments to soldiers anywhere in the world, and it very well rivals the Arc de Triomphe. It is so located that it is in the very heart of the Capital. There is also the advantage of being able to convert it into a living memorial immediately. I would, therefore, suggest that while the museum should be set up in due course, the India Gate should be the National War Memorial."

Perhaps my persistence was found annoying, and I noticed that I was being passed down the line of hierarchy. While my first letter to the Chief was answered by General Parshad, I now received a reply dated 13.3.1970 from Colonel Kapoor, who firmly knocked me down. He wrote:

"Dear Shri Gill,

It is agreed that the India Gate is the most suitable, and the most glorious monument to soldiers. This aspect has already been examined by us in 1960. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which is responsible for the India Gate, did not agree to the proposal on the ground that the Delhi Arch is, essentially, a First World War Memorial, and the Government of India had assured the Commission that nothing would be done to alter the contents and meaning of the inscriptions.

However as already mentioned in the letter (No.94126/III AG/PS6, dated 28.1.1970) from the Adjutant General, a suitable memorial in Delhi is already under consideration. Therefore, a separate memorial for the Unknown Soldier is not considered necessary."

I could see that the Army had had enough of me, and my next letter was bound to go unanswered. But I could not resist one last fling. I wrote back to Colonel Kapoor. I pressed the Army to again consider having the India Gate and pointed out a little angrily, and perhaps sarcastically, that I was aware that the Arch had been built for the dead of World War I, but I was confident, that the Indian dead of that War would not have any objection to sharing it with the Indian dead of subsequent wars. With this letter, I closed my little effort, and left the idea to chance.

The Bangladesh war was fought in December 1971. India had a great victory, and created history and a country. Indira Gandhi was a great heroine. The Army suddenly woke up. Great was my surprise, when I found the GOI suddenly, on the eve of Republic Day in January 1972, rushing to put up a plinth, an inverted rifle, and a flame in the Arch of the India Gate. Indira Gandhi inaugurated this National Memorial to India’s War Dead, of all wars, on January 26, 1972. I was happy. I waited a month or two, and then unable to restrain myself, wrote again on 3.3.1972 to General Parshad, who was by now Vice-Chief of the Army Staff, thus:

"Dear General,

You may recall a correspondence we had about the need for turning the India Gate into a memorial to the Unknown Soldier. I am sure you will understand, and forgive me if today I have a feeling of ‘I told you so’. However, I rejoice with all soldiers, and all our people, in the glorious monument, to those who made such a famous victory possible."

He was gracious enough to answer promptly and wrote on 4.3.1972:

"My dear Mr Gill,

I recall your letter very well, when I was doing Adjutant General. In fact the idea of locating this tomb at the India Gate was started on the basis of your D.O. letter."

All this happened 36 years ago, and the National War Memorial is a long-established sacred place, at the heart of the Capital. The story of World War I, and the British War Graves Commission is dead and gone. We are a free people, and the India Gate is ours. I made some comment then, which needs to be repeated, in the hope that somebody will take some notice. Governments normally never do. The memorial was patched together in a great hurry, on January 24 and 25, 1972, so that the Prime Minister could inaugurate it on 26th.

The architects did not get the time to plan the suitable integration of the plinth, with the flame, into the Lutyens’ Arch. The symbol of a helmet on an inverted gun is hackneyed. An almost identical memorial arch, which perhaps provided the inspiration for the India Gate, exists in the shape of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Underneath that Arch at ground level is buried an unknown soldier of France. Over his head, shaped like a sun made by placing swords in a circle, with hilts lying inwards, burns an eternal flame.

We still need to integrate harmoniously our additions, with the Lutyens’ Arch. The three Service Flags, small in size and on ordinary white poles, neither fit the scale, nor add to the beauty. I would suggest, now that we have Charles Correa as the Head of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission, he should be requested to head a committee to give the Memorial a final permanent shape.

I would also suggest to the Defence Minister to give a museum to the Armed Forces in the Capital, but do not let them mess about with the established glorious monument.

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Case of overkill

A media professor in the UK who was in India recently says real news in Indian TV is being replaced by a relentless coverage on Bollywood and the three Cs — celebrities, criminals and cricket.

"There is far too much on Bollywood in the news and far too little on what is actually happening in the country and indeed in the world at large," rued Daya Kishan Thussu, the first professor of Indian origin in the field of media and cultural studies in any British university.

"Quantity does not necessarily translate into quality. With some exceptions, television news in India today is veering towards infotainment." He added: "The concept of infotainment is a relatively new one, which emanates from recent changes in broadcasting ecology around the world. This is manifest in the way broadcasting has moved from public to private." However, the professor of international communication at London’s University of Westminster, who holds a PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, was all praise for the Indian press.

"The press in India is comparable with the best in the world. This is not an empty boast but the professionalism of Indian journalists is out there for all to see. We produce some of the most professional news magazines," Thussu said.

Upbeat about India’s prospects globally, Thussu said: "India has the professional expertise, especially in English — the language of global communication and commerce — and legitimate aspirations to be taken seriously among the comity of nations. The opening up of the media sector has profoundly affected Indian journalism. This is most visible in television - where we have come a long way from a state monopoly to the era of multi-channel viewing with many dedicated news networks, and not just in English and Hindi but in India’s other major languages." The most exciting change in the Indian media scene, according to Thussu, is "really in what has been traditionally called as vernacular press".

— IANS

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Pamper your feet
Anjana Sarin

Our feet not only help us move around but also support our whole body weight. So it is important that our feet should be pampered for the hard work they do. However, it has been found that women pay little attention to care about their feet as compared to other body parts. In case of men, the situation is even worse. At swimming pools and locker rooms, one can find men with gnarled feet with rough skin protruding in the heels and ingrown toenails.

The situation seems to be changing as the metrosexual men and women are taking to pedicure. Pedicure is the care of the feet, legs and toenails. Its purpose is to keep the feet in a good condition and to make the skin soft and smooth. It also helps to improve blood circulation, nourishes the skin and the leg and foot muscles. A regular pedicure would also discourage foot ailments. For best results, a pedicure should be done once in a fortnight.

For doing a pedicure at home, the following steps should be followed:

Soak your feet in a tub of hot, soapy water.

Add salt and essence oils (if you have any).

Using a foot file (or a pumice stone or any other scrub), scrub your feet lightly.

Remove your feet from the tub and wipe them with a soft towel.

Apply a generous amount of cream on your feet till a few inches above the ankles.

If you have rose water, put it in a spray bottle and spray on your feet before starting the pedicure. Spay it for a couple of times during the pedicure.

Push back your cuticles gently with a cuticle buffer. You can also use this buffer to clean your nails.

Clip your toenails. The best way to clip toenails is to go straight across, rounding them off slightly at the ends.

Dab a cotton pad with nail polish remover and use it to take off your old polish. Gently press the cotton on your nail, and wipe the polish off, using strokes in the outward direction only.

Massage each foot for 5-10 minutes. Concentrate on the heels, and any other dry and cracked areas of the foot.

Separate your toes with tiny wedges of cotton, and apply two coats of nail polish. Remember to let the polish dry before applying a second.

At a salon, the following precautions are necessary:

Avoid applying the nail paint immediately after a pedicure. Many salons advise that it should be done only after three days so that the nails get time to breathe. In case the nails have become yellow, due to too frequent use of nail polish, you can clean them up with hydrogen peroxide and then follow it up with lighter shades.

Make sure that the implements being used at the salon have been sterilised.

Ingrown toenails are a major problem and it often necessitates a visit to a chiropodist before going in for a pedicure. He would be able to sort out the implications of an ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenails are due to wearing very tight footwear. The pedicurist would normally cut these nails straight across and not curved as with fingernails.

Ensure that you put antibacterial cream on your problematic toenail, after a pedicure.

According to beauty expert Bharat Shivdasani, "Women who take care of their feet are very organised and neat people, and can be entrusted to make the most of other aspects of modern fashion". — MF

Stick to flatties

Think twice before walking down the street in towering footwear, as in an attempt to add a few inch to your height, you may harm your chances of having a baby.

An expert has claimed that in their attempt to look drop-dead gorgeous in their stilletoes, women actually risk their fertility, as these five-inch killer heels can affect their internal organs in a condition known as visceroptosis.

"If people value their health in any way at all, avoid these killer heels at all costs - they’re not worth the risk," The Mirror quoted health and fitness chief Dax Moy, as saying.

"The most important are the potential problems that high heels can cause in relation to fertility, menstrual cycles and abdominal function. When you wear high-heels, the pressure on the front of the foot causes you to compensate by excessive forward tilting of the pelvis. If left unchecked, this can lead to menstrual dysfunction and increases in period pains as well as affecting the ability to conceive," he said.

"Most women are intimately aware that the prolonged wearing of even moderate heels can cause foot, ankle and knee problems and lead to back pain. But it’s not just about the feet, it affects every single function in every joint and muscle throughout the body and can seriously affect the health of women that insist upon wearing them," he added.

Dax has also warned that the latest fashion shoes could even make the hair fall out. "The forward tilting of the pelvis allows the abdominal contents to spill forward, producing that ‘pooch’ which many women have wrongly come to think of as a ‘fat stomach’."In doing so, they compress internal organs in a condition known as visceroptosis," said Dax.

"It doesn’t stop there—neck, back, shoulder pain, stress headaches and even premature hair loss can all ensue as a result of ignoring the way your body is designed to work," he added.

He went on "But it’s not just about the feet, it affects every single function in every joint and muscle throughout the body and can seriously affect the health of women that insist upon wearing them." —ANI

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