India’s little Poland
This is a story of a long ago. When World War II left Poland ravaged and thousands of Polish people homeless, about 1000 children from war-torn, occupied Poland and Soviet prison camps in Stalin’s Siberia, travelled all the way to India, where Jam Sahib, Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja of Nawanagar, nephew of famous Indian cricketer Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji of the Jadeja clan, a princely state in the Kathiawar Peninsula, took personal risks to make arrangements at a time when the world was at war and India was struggling for its independence. He built a camp for them in a place called Balachadi beside his summer palace, 25 km from his capital city Jamnagar.
The children stayed in the camp for four years (1942 to 1946), picking up pieces of their lives, making happy memories till they got to reunite with their family and friends when Polish history reached peaceful times.
After years, documentary film maker, Anu Radha and Sumit Osmand Shaw have got The Survivors of Balachadi, as they like to call themselves, together, to make a heart-touching piece of narrative A Little Poland in India. The 52-miute film has been co-produced between the governments of India and Poland under audio-visual agreement between both countries; co-produced by Doordarshan, Government of Gujarat and National Audiovisual Institute and TVP (Telewizja Polska) from Poland.
The script and the research is by Anu Radha. This fragment of Indo-Polish history is a heartening chapter on a rare humane endeavour at times of war. Survivors of this chapter, who are featured in the documentary, remember their time in Balachadi fondly holding Jam Saheb, who they called Bapu, in high esteem. Infact, Poland has a school and a street named after Jam Saheb.
The film was officially launched in the Capital in the presence of delegates, the directors and one of the survivors of Balachadi, Wieslaw Stypula, who shared his amazing story. A Little Poland in India will be telecast on 10 Nov (3:00 pm) and on the 11 November (7:30 am) on DD National. Make sure you catch it.