Remembering Heroes from a 100 years ago
Under the leadership of Mr Inder Singh, Chairman, GOPIO International, a host of events related to the Gadar Centennial Commemoration were held across the United States of America. One event was also held in Canada. Here’s a summary
On November 3, 2012, GOPIO held a launch of its GOPIO Gadar Centennial Commemoration at the Indian embassy, in Washington, D.C. in the presence of India’s ambassador Nirupama Rao, Ambassador Bayney Karran of Guyana, Ambassador Neil Parsan of Trinidad and Tobago and Ambassador Subash Mungra of Suriname.
On June 16, 2013, GOPIO International chairman Inder Singh organized Gadar Centenary Commemoration event in Los Angeles at Sheraton Hotel and paid tributes to Gadar heroes. Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee and Consul General of India N. Parthasarathi paid glowing tributes to Gadar heroes. Well known historian Prof. Stanley Wolpert was the keynote speaker, with his references to the movement drawing frequent applause by the audience.
Prior to the evening banquet, a seminar was organized highlighting the importance of the Gadar movement in India’s freedom struggle. Consul General N. Parthasarathi also released a book titled The Gadar Heroics by Inder Singh and Sayantan Chakravarty. The 176-page book gives a brief history of the Gadar Movement and bio-sketches of over 60 Gadarites who were either given the death sentence, or life imprisonment or sentenced in the so-called Hindu German Conspiracy Trial.
The Atlanta event was organized on June 29, 2013 by GOPIO Atlanta chapter in collaboration with the Indian American Cultural Association (IACA). Former premier of British Columbia, Ujjal Dosanjh, Consul General Ajit Kumar, GOPIO International Chairman Inder Singh and eminent community leaders of the local Indian American community graced the event.
Hon Ujjal Dosanjh, noted in his keynote speech, “The Gadar Movement was an integral part of the history of India’s independence”.
Consul General, Hon. Ajit Kumar called the Gadar Movement a movement of “progressive, democratic, secular people who represented one religion- that of patriotism.” He said that the movement inspired many leaders such as Subhash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh.
GOPIO International Chairman Mr Inder Singh presented a brief history of the Gadar Movement and said, “We have roots of over a century in this country.” He added, “We Indian Americans must lay claim to this history and encourage future generations to take pride in our heritage”.
Surinder Pal Singh, Atlanta-based grandson of Gadarite Bhagwan Singh Gyanee, spoke about his grandfather’s efforts, commitment and struggles. He authored several books and articles, and finally returned to India in 1958.
Opening remarks were made by Kaushal Tripathi, president of IACA. GOPIO Atlanta chapter President, Bhairavi Nadgonde introduced Inder Singh and Dr. Paddy Sharma made the closing remarks.
The Gadar Centennial Celebration held on July 29, 2013 in the Washington, DC marked the occasion with a historical seminar, speeches, poetry, awards, music and dance. The day-long program was arranged by the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) of Metropolitan Washington, in collaboration with many international and American Indian organizations.
Pointing out the historical perspective of the Gadar Movement in the US, Professor Harbans Lal from Dallas, Texas, said it started with a small group of people and impacted India thousands of miles away with full force.
The Indian ambassador to the US, Niupama Rao, said it was a significant centennial celebration, because we are meeting here in the US where this movement was formed on its West Coast that heralded the freedom movement in India and we won our ultimate independence.
In March 2013, Jeevan Zutshi of Indo-American Community Federation (IACF) organized the Gadar commemoration seminar in conjunction with the annual Unity dinner at the Newark Fremont Hilton. In September 2013, GOPIO Berlin headed by Barjinder Sodhi, organized Gadar centenary celebration in Berlin. Over one hundred people attended the event. In December 2013, Goojha organized centenary event in Paris. India’s ambassador was the chief guest. Over one hundred people attended the event.
India Empire publisher published a Gadar supplement which was distributed at the PBD in Kochi. We collaborated with Munish Gupta of PIOTV.COM to make a 20-minute documentary on the Gadar movement.
The movement started 100 years ago when there were only a few thousands of Indians in the US and Canada. Now there are over 3.2 million in the US alone and about a million in Canada. However, there is little awareness among the Indian immigrants in the US, although Indians in Canada are more aware of the Gadar Movement.
History of Indians in the US or Canada is not taught in schools. So, there is no awareness in the generation of Indians who went to school in this country. If we, Indians in the US and Canada, want others to know about us, then we must first know who we are. We can ignore our heritage at our own peril.
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots,’’ according to Marcus Garvey who is the national hero of Jamaica.
In addition to GOPIO, several other organizations have organized commemorative events in Canada and the US. Some of the events are listed below.