On April 11, during the 2nd international conference on ‘The Diplomatic Dimensions of Military History: Indian Armed Forces in France and Flanders during WWI & WWII’ several speakers highlighted the significant role Indian soldiers played in the Great Wars and how their contributions impacted India's diplomatic position in international politics.
Maj Gen BK Sharma (Retd), DG USI, in his welcome remarks emphasized the values that Indian soldiers upheld, such as "namak, nishan, naam, izzat, and iqbal," and how they fought bravely.
Amb Vijay Thakur Singh, DG ICWA, in her keynote address acknowledged the limitations Indian soldiers faced but commended their valor during the wars. She also spoke about India's enhanced diplomatic role and advocated for "Reformed Multilateralism."
HE Mr Didier Vanderhasselt, Amb of Belgium to India, spoke about the diplomatic relations between India and Belgium and how Indian soldiers' contributions in the Great Wars helped improve India's diplomatic position.
HE Ms Christina Scott, CMG, Deputy High Commissioner of the UK to India, highlighted the Indian soldiers' contribution to the Allied victory, specifically recalling Victoria Cross awardee Rfn Gabar Singh Negi's immense courage.
Dr Dominiek Dendooven discussed Indian servicemen on the Western Front and emphasized how they unitedly fought despite caste and religious distinctions.
Mr Louis Teyssedou and his students from Amiens, France, presented an ethnographic collection of Indian soldiers' photographs from WWI, while Mr Jérôme Janczukiewicz presented an elaborate presentation on the Indian Labour Corps in Eastern France.
Dr Vineet Thakur spoke about the emergence of Indian Diplomacy after the First World War and how India's contributions to the war paved the way for claiming civilizational equality with the West.
The conference ended with the Valedictory address by the Chief of the Defence Staff of the Indian Armed Forces and Vote of Thanks by Sqn Ldr Rana Chinna (Retd), Director CMHCS.