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A war’s homecoming

A war’s homecoming
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Through mundane objects like matchboxes and utensils, rare monochromatic photographs of Indian soldiers cooking and a few silent movies depicting their life during the First World War an upcoming exhibition here will pay tribute to their unsung contribution during the Great War.

The exhibition India and the First World War jointly organised by Roli Books, the French Embassy here and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA)will run from January 12 to February 10 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the War.

It wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that the exhibition is the brainchild of Roli Books publisher and CEO Pramod Kapoor, who first thought of thought of publishing a volume on the contribution of the Indian soldiers during the War when, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, several European exhibitors threw light on this lesser-known subject.

After coming back he got in touch with Vedica Kant and Amarinder Singh, who researched and penned India and the First World War (prefaced with “If I die Here, who will remember me?” and Honour and Fidelity: India’s Military Contribution to the Great War 1914-1918. “That interaction with the exhibitors at the fair led to these two books because I realised these stories need to be told,” Kapoor told IANS.

But what exactly shaped up this exhibition was a trip to Ypres and Lille in France, where he learned that Indian war heroes such as Khudadad Khan are household names and each family has a story to share about the warmth and bravery of the Indian troops stationed in this region. “It was so fascinating to see how many collectors had items used by the Indian soldiers while on the Western front. It was during the trip I realised the potential and gravity of this project,” said Kapoor.

“I walked along the fields of Flanders where you can still pick out pieces of spent bullets embedded in the soil and was moved by the sight of the tricolour and Ashoka’s lion capital at Menin Gate,” he added. Kapoor then got in touch with the French Embassy, which made arrangements to bring the films and memorabilia to India for this exhibition. Apart from this, rare photographs of Indian soldiers will also be displayed.

However, Kapoor hopes this exhibition reaches out to many people as books are read by aa few, but visual imaginary has the ability to reach out to many people.

When:
January 12 to February 10
Where: IGNCA
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