NEW DELHI:With the Nehru legacy under siege from the NDA Government, the role of Indira Gandhi in the 1971 war with Pakistan has become a touchy matter. A defence ministry-funded documentary on the wars fought by Indian armed forces has put the filmmakers in a quandary on whether to be “politically correct or objective” in depicting the role of the political leaderships. Even former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had described Indira as Durga after India won the war that created Bangladesh.
The government is planning to bring out seven telefilms of wars and conflicts, from World War I to 1999 Kargil conflict. For this, Rajya Sabha Television has been tasked with a special budgetary allocation of Rs 25 crore from the defence ministry.
After BJP criticising former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru for India’s defeat in 1962 war with China, projecting Indira’s role probably will not be an easy task for the filmmakers.
The army is already commemorating the centenary year of its soldiers’ participation in the World War I in which over 74,000 Indian soldiers had died and about 67,000 were injured. Indian soldiers were decorated with 11 Victoria Crosses, 5 Military Crosses and numerous other awards for their fine soldierly attributes during the war.
According to a top official, the idea to televise past Indian wars was mooted probably after March 16, when Prime minister Narendra Modi visited an exhibition on the World War I, organised by the Indian Army at Delhi cantonment’s Manekshaw Centre. At the event, Modi had said that he was impressed and even touched to meet the descendants of some of the soldiers, who were decorated for their services in the war. The army has also created a replica of a World War I (1914-18) bunker displaying the living conditions of the soldiers then.
Several ministers and over 20 Members of Parliament had also visited the exhibition after the prime minister advised them to do so to learn about the Great War.
Rajya Sabha TV is knocking on the door of the armed forces to provide material for the film. Seven telefilms with the duration of 52 minutes each on wars/conflict since the World War I will be produced alongwith a full-length feature film, representing the ethos and customs of the armed forces, according to a RS TV communication to the defence ministry.
RS TV has sought suggestions from the tri-services on operations, events and individuals of the wars fought which could be filmed. It has also sought relevant material like films, photographs, written text and artefacts for the project, from the ministry. In order to create awareness on the films, the government has decided to create short promotional videos for YouTube and other social media.
In a testimony to the Modi government’s focus on the history of Indian military, projects for creating National War Memorial and a war museum have already been approved. The defence ministry is also coming out with a coffee table book on the history of India’s Republic Day parades since 1950. A senior official has been assigned to collect relevant and required material from various agencies.