• Monday, March 20, 2023

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Indian soldiers who died in World Wars honoured on Commonwealth Day

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

At the annual Commonwealth Day ceremony on Monday (13), soldiers from the Indian subcontinent who lost their lives in the two World Wars were honoured alongside service members from the Commonwealth.

The Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill played host to defence personnel and diplomats, including Indian high commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami to pay tribute to the memory of the “volunteers” who fought with the British armed forces.

In 2002, the late Queen Elizabeth II unveiled the Memorial Gates as a permanent tribute to the 5 million service men and women from the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and the Caribbean.

The annual wreath-laying ceremony, held at the Memorial Gates, commemorates the sacrifices made by these individuals during the two World Wars.

“What we do here at these gates is more important than ever, given the war in Ukraine, and always will be,” said Lord Karan Bilimoria, British Indian entrepreneur and chairman of the Memorial Gates Council.

The ceremony this year had a particular emphasis on the Windrush Generation, which included individuals who migrated to the UK from the West Indies on the Empire Windrush ship in 1948 and others from that era until 1971.

The 2023 Commonwealth Day theme, “Forging a Sustainable and Peaceful Common Future,” aims to bring together 2.5 billion Commonwealth citizens from the organisation’s 56 member states, including India.

This is the first Commonwealth Day ceremony to be presided over by King Charles III as the Head of the Commonwealth, taking over from his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Speaking about facing current challenges and embracing future opportunities, Baroness Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth said, “We stand together now to face the challenges of the moment and seize the opportunities of tomorrow”.

She added, “I believe profoundly that our family of 56 nations and 2.5 billion people is stronger, more vibrant, more connected and more purposeful than ever”.

Throughout the Commonwealth, cities organise interfaith and multicultural events to commemorate the day. One of the most significant gatherings is a customary service at Westminster Abbey in London, attended by the King, senior government officials, and other dignitaries.

Commonwealth Day has been observed annually on the second Monday in March since 1977.

(With inputs from PTI)

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