Remembering Indian Soldiers in WW1: Sharing this Heritage with Hindus & other communities

Remembering Indian Soldiers in WW1: Sharing this Heritage with Hindus and other faith communities

Heritage Lottery Fund Reference number – OH-15-06195

The Golden Tours Foundation is a charitable organisation established in 2013 to offer life-changing opportunities for people to help fulfil their aspirational goals. It has a broad spectrum of charitable aims nurturing on the philosophy of personal, social and economic growth. The Foundation, in particular, pays emphasis to projects related to ‘education and the ‘younger generation’. Its ethos is to secure opportunities for the future generations by working for and with them. Only by such inclusive partnerships, there is hope for future social and economic wealth for us all.

Golden Tours Foundation has been successful in acquiring Heritage Lottery Funds. A brief overview of the project aims and objectives are below:-

Project Summary

The Indian contribution during WW1 was considerable, but much of the story is missing from the public domain. India provided the largest voluntary force ever assembled in history with around 1.5 million individuals. It further provided over £300 million (today’s equivalent of £31 billion) in funds, as well as millions more in food, arms and aid.

This project will highlight the role of Indian Soldiers of all faiths and will share this heritage with Hindus and other less well-known communities to help broaden the engagement and understanding among these communities, as well as within the wider public sphere. It will further help to understand its impact on identity and integration in today’s Britain.

Project Description

The heritage focuses on the contribution of Indian soldiers of all faiths during WW1 and sharing this heritage with Hindu and other less well-known faith communities during WW1.Particular emphasis will be on engaging with the younger generation by providing a ‘relevancy’ framework of how their ancestor’s contribution on the world stage impacted the future paths of the two nations in terms of independence, migration and national identity. For example, how after Indian soldier’s involvement in East Africa the war was a precursor to many Indians staying on to build new lives and subsequently moving to the United Kingdom. This project will provide an understanding of the contribution of Indian soldiers during WW1 and its subsequent legacy that has helped to shape the modern British identity. This shared history is all the more relevant as in today’s multi-faith Britain there are more than a million Hindus, Zoroastrians, Jains and Buddhists that have made the UK their home. The commemorations of WW1 provide a unique opportunity to promote better understanding within these communities by helping to foster long-lasting ties for better cohesion. As yet this story is largely untold. This project has broad objectives and will be delivered through a variety of activities:

  • Outreach work at external events for the different communities including the recording of personal stories
  • Workshops to ensure early engagement of participants/volunteers prior to events. These workshops will be tailored to the age group of those we are engaging
  • Events each focusing on a different audience in areas where the respective communities have large populations. These events will be preceded by workshops to ensure relevancy and take up

These events will be:

  • North London A community event focusing on lesser-known faiths and the young people of (6 -16 years of age). The event will be based in Brent in London which has the highest proportion of Hindus, Zoroastrians, Jains and Buddhists. It also has strong links with the Sri Lankan and Nepalese communities as all these communities utilise the facilities.

In addition to telling the WW1 story, the event will provide these communities a chance to learn about issues of war and non-violence. These topics are particularly relevant to these faiths and will provide insight particularly around how a faith maintains their non-violence principles in a war environment. We will also work with the local museums.

  • Diwali Festival, Trafalgar Square – public event open to all

The event at Diwali Festival in Trafalgar Square will bring together all elements of the project and share information about Indian participation in WW1 to a diverse public audience. This event will offer a range of activities relating to WW1 and we will work with museum partners and other relevant HLF funded projects to showcase the work that is being done during this centenary commemoration.

  • Leicester: After London, Leicester is the key region with the largest number of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and other less known communities. The event will be held at the Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre which is a social and educational hub where all these groups regularly meet.

Other aspects of the project will include;-

  • Website offering a flexible digital platform during and post the project programme. This website will act as a link to other local and national institutions and will provide an additional level of information that can be assessed by all online users.
  • Webinars and E-Archive – This activity is particularly aimed at people who cannot physically access the project and/or for young people who would like to engage remotely and use their social media networks again tailored to the audience group.
  • The heritage material collected through these activities will also form our e-archive, and we will ensure that this reference material is available to a wider audience both during the life cycle of this project and in the future. Our current research further shows that there are some significant areas of heritage that the communities are more passionate about than others areas. For e.g. issues of faith, health and diet during the WW1 are of areas of interest because these topics play a distinct role in modern day lifestyles for these communities.

Should you have any questions for queries relating to the project please contact Jane Roemer at jroemer@goldentoursfoundation.co.uk