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February - March 2009
History matters – why?
To understand the country it is important to have some knowledge of its history and culture. It’s an essential part of being a good citizen. A knowledge of history helps to understand who we are and creates a sense of belonging. If you have nothing to look back, then you have nothing to be proud of. That’s why history is important. And for this you don’t have to be a professional historian (I am not).
As British-Indians we have the onus of knowing the history of two countries. That of our janmabhumi (India) and our karmabhumi (Britain). British history is even more important to us if we want to integrate with the people of this country or play a leading role in its cultural or political affairs (it’s common knowledge that we are vastly under-represented in local councils and parliament). On the other hand those who are born here of Indian parents, it’s equally important for them to know the country of their parents or ancestors.
History of Britain is remarkably similar to that of India. For thousands of years waves after waves of invaders and settlers have arrived, and made their mark with the result Britain is a fascinating mix of (man-made) landscape, cultures, languages, and religions and is still evolving today. Now it’s our turn to be part of that process.
Books, museums, internet, and TV are wonderful sources of useful information, but I believe the most enjoyable way of knowing a country is visiting its historical landmarks (as they say, travel broadens the mind!). Like India, wherever we travel in Britain, we come across with the overwhelming abundance of landmarks such as glorious palaces and stately homes, cathedrals, castles, and beautiful parklands to list a few. However, when I visit places here, I see very few Indians though there are hordes of Chinese and Japanese!
So, if we want to be proud of being British-Indians (and we should) without losing our identity, we ought to know the history and heritage of both our countries well. Never has the task been more urgent than it’s today.
I am pleased that India Link has recognised this need and is among few Asian media who is happy to publish my history-tourism articles. I am ever so thankful for that. -
- Dr. Anil Mehta, Leeds
I enjoyed reading the Diwali and the December/January issues of India Link International. I found your thoughts as reflected in the editorial (page 5) quite interesting. Do you not think the word “each” between the words “will” and “have” on paragraph 13) be there? Whilst I understand your argument in the penultimate paragraph about not encouraging different faith schools I feel we should not overlook the cost factor. In many developing as well as developed countries schools run by religious bodies make a significant contribution and if one was to put a value it could come to US$. 400 million per year. Having said this I agree with your sentiments that whilst the schools are funded and managed by religious bodies scripture lessons should not be mandatory and much more importantly the schools should comply with the syllabus and other requirements of the country’s education department. Furthermore they should be subject to annual inspection.
Best wishes for 2009.
From: Nitin Mehta
Yasmin Alibhai Brown a columnist of the Independent wrote that patritoism cannot be forced upon the ethnic minorities. Identifyng with a nation is not the gift of anyone. Nobody can force you to love your country she said. The following letter of mine was published in the Independent on 15th November.
The patriotism of an immigrant
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown' s piece "You can't force patriotism on a people" (10 November) is flawed. Loyalty to one's country cannot be negotiable. Once you become a citizen of a country it is incumbent upon you to identify with the country. Minorities everywhere have to make a special effort to join the national mainstream.
Yasmin claims: "We will withhold that kiss if the state disappoints. " This implies that a democratically elected government should shape its policies in such a way that it never offends the minority. This is an untenable position which will do the minorities no good. This country gave thousands of refugees like me and Yasmin an opportunity to settle and prosper. That for me is enough to be a patriotic citizen.
Thousands like me feel that the time has come to stop playing the victim.
From: K. Metzer
Israel’s Action in Gaza
Air assault is always dangerous from the point of view of public relations! This goes back to World War II and the bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, Coventry and the blitz on London!
This action is part of a long religious war. Islam has always been liable to fanaticism at the same time as, in other areas it was highly civilised and tolerant.
What is worth noting from the Indian and Hindu point of view is that the fanatics inthe Mumbai assault did not distinguish between zionist and anti-zionist Jews. One victim was a teitelbaum associated with the Satmar Hasioim, who are absolutely anti-political zionism.
Israel may win matrial gains in Gaza a the cost of a pubic relatios disaster.