India will soon have its first national war memorial. This was announced by the Modi government on 7 October 2015. The national war memorial will be constructed near New Delhi’s iconic India Gate and Rs. 500 crores have been allocated for this project by the government. In fact, one of the main promises made by the BJP in last year’s election campaign was to build its war memorial and the time has now come to fulfill this promise. According to reports, it will take a period of almost 5 years to build this war memorial in the memory of lakhs of soldiers and armed forces members who were killed in wars after the country’s independence in 1947. Along with the war memorial, the government has also announced to build a war museum.
More than 22,500 soldiers have sacrificed their lives in defence of the people and integrity of the country post-Independence. However, even after so many years of Independence, there was no memorial erected in the country to commemorate the martyrs. It was a long pending demand of the armed forces to have a memorial to remember those great soldiers who laid down their lives to save ours in the wars after independence. The war museum will capture those glorious, memorable, as well as the sad moments in war history.
What was the reason behind the delay?
The demand for a war memorial started way back in the 1960s. Due to persistent demands for a National War Memorial by the armed forces and other organisations, including the armed forces veterans, the erstwhile UPA government in 2009 formed a Group of Ministers headed by Pranab Mukherjee to examine the demand. In 2012, after almost 50 years, when the UPA government decided to commemorate the martyrs who were killed in the Indo-China war of 1962 in a ceremony held at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, the then defence minister AK Antony announced that the Government has conceded the demand of the Indian Armed Forces for a war memorial and it will be built at India Gate. However, in December 2012, Sheila Dikshit, the then Chief Minister of Delhi, opposed the proposal to build a war memorial at the India Gate complex as she felt that such a structure will spoil the beauty of the place and will become an obstruction to people’s enjoyment. Ultimately the project did not take off.
When Modi government came to power, Narendra Modi in a speech just two days after the Republic day celebrations in 2014 declared that India will soon have its war memorial to remember thousands of soldiers who have died in wars. In July 2014, Arun Jaitley, the present Finance Minister and Defence Minister of India, announced that the war memorial would be constructed near India gate along with a war museum in the Princess Park.
And finally, on 7 October 2015, it was formally announce that the construction of the National War Memorial will start very soon and in five years’ time, we will have our own National War memorial like other countries of the world.
Design of the memorial
The project will be managed and monitored by an empowered Steering Committee headed by Defence Secretary and helped by a project management team so that the project gets completed on time. The site of the project will be around the existing canopy near India Gate and the war memorial will be in the nearby Princess Park. The proposed National War Memorial and the War Museum will be connected by a subway. Most parts of the museum will be underground. Even the memorial wall will be laid on the ground with the names of the soldiers who lost their lives in various wars like in 1961, 1962, 1965, 1971, 1987, 1987-88, 1999 etc. will be inscribed. The design of the memorial and the museum will be such that it harmonizes with the whole surroundings in and near the India Gate.
We, as Indians, should be proud of our armed forces and this memorial will surely promote a sense of patriotism in our minds, to express our gratitude to the martyrs.