Monday, June 27News That Matters

Merging the flames

The brouhaha over the merger of Amar Jawan Jyoti — that has been burning since 1972 at India Gate, which was built in 1921 in memory of soldiers who died in World War I and the Third Anglo-Afghan War — with the flame instituted in the new, imposing National War Memorial (NWM) is unfortunate. The controversy reeks of Opposition parties seeking to squeeze political mileage out of the exercise. The media — both traditional and social — is agog with criticism and denigrating comments, all devoid of logic. Sadly, ruling party spokespersons, too, have not covered themselves with glory as they shout back by belittling the sacrifices of the Indian soldiers before Independence. It goes against the grain of Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful reconciliation with the past. Some of our earliest soldiers, who earned medals of valour in battles fought after 1947, trace their careers to the British army. Just as their patriotism is held sacrosanct and above reproach, so is the need to embrace the past as a whole and move on.

The true significance of shifting the Eternal Flame is lost in this din of unwarranted and baseless criticism as it cascades down and arouses the sentiments of the masses fed on misinformation. A moment must be spared to hear out the few sane and calm voices, including those of defence forces’ veterans. Rather than being contentious, it should be a moment of pride as all our past soldiers who laid down their lives for the nation and future ones get a befitting place of remembrance.

Unlike most countries, India had been lacking a proper NWM symbolising the gratitude of a nation to its valiant fallen heroes. The NWM has been constructed in the vicinity of India Gate within the redeveloped Central Vista Avenue of New Delhi. The Amar Jawan Jyoti has not been extinguished. It has found a new, apt abode and is flickering eternally. The decision to install Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s statue under the canopy in the India Gate area, where once stood the statue of former king of England George V, adds to the glorious architecture of a proud nation.

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