India’s oldest military think-tank, the United Service Institution of India (USI) and Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA),India’s oldest think-tank on International Relations and an institution of national importance, are organising a joint International Conference on “The Diplomatic Dimensions of Military History: Indian Armed Forces in France and Flanders during WWI and WWII”. To be held at the USI, New Delhi on 11 April 2023, the Conference is a significant step towards commemorating therole of India during the two World Wars. It will recall the bravery and professionalism of the Indian soldiers without whom the Allied victories would not have been possible.
2. The World Wars changed the dynamics between the colonies and the imperial powers irreversibly. They served as both a catalyst as well as a vehicle for social and political change all over the world. India’s role in the two World Wars established its presence in the global arena. India became a founder-member of the United Nations in June 1945. After World War II, India gained independence in 1947 and chose to follow an independent foreign policy that stood for struggle against colonial rule and global peace. India has been among the largest troop contributors for peacekeeping, and Indian troops continue to serve under the UN flag in far-off lands.
3. The International Conference will bring together scholars from India, France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. Two scholars who are teaching school children in France about the contribution of the Indian soldiers for the freedom of their country- Mr Jérôme Janczukiewicz and Louis Teyssedou- will also participate.
4. Mr Jérôme Janczukiewiczis currently working as a teacher in Lycée Arthur Varoquaux, Tomblaine (Eastern France). He and his students worked on a project that explored the role of the Indian Labour Corps in France in the winter of 1917-1918. As their presence was largely unknown to the locals, the students of the high school designed three plaques to commemorate the role played by the Indian Labour Corps and installed these in the cemetery where the soldiers are buried.
5. The second scholar Mr Louis Teyssedou is a teacher at Edouard Gand High School at Amiens, France. This year, in partnership with the French Ministry of Armed Forces, he has organized an exhibition which documents, inter alia, the role of Indian soldiers during World War I. Mr Teyssedou will be coming to India with twelve of his students to attend the International Conference on 11 April 2023.
6. The Conference will provide an opportunity for Mr Janczukiewicz and Mr Teyssedouto speak about their efforts to highlight the valour and sacrifice of the Indian soldiers in France during World War I.
7. Overall, the Conference will provide an opportunity to commemorate the military and diplomatic significance of the contributions of Indian soldiers in the World Wars and will contribute to the strengthening ofIndia’s relations with the countries concerned. It will also enhance India’s efforts for “reformed multilateralism”.