Several of our countrymen have done heroic deeds in far away land and their contribution has also been acknowledged in those countries. Some are revered to this day. While some have participated as soldiers, others have contributed in other professions in no lesser way. The author attempts to bring to fore some of such contribution.
Mohinder Singh Pujji
During first world war, it is estimated that approximately 1,100,000 Indians had served overseas at the cost of 75,000 dead. They earned thousands of decorations for gallantry including several Victoria Cross (VCs). Even the Chinese labour contributed in war effort by digging of trenches in France. During the second world war too, Indian soldiers contributed immensely.
Squadron Leader Mohinder Singh Pujji was one such person- a decorated fighter pilot who served not only in UK, but also in Middle East and Burma. He along with 24 other IAF officers engaged the Luftwaffe of Germany and even flew bombing missions in Germany.
A bronze statue of Squadron Leader Mohinder Singh Pujji exists in Kent,UK as a memorial to this war hero.
Dr Dwarkanath Kotnis
Dr Kotnis, was an Indian physician who died while treating Chinese soldiers during the second China-Japan war in 1942. He is revered in China for his contributions to this day.
After the Japanese invasion of China, the communist General Zhu requested Mr Jawaharlal Nehru to send some doctors to China. Mr Subhas Chandra Bose- then President of Indian National Congress invited volunteers for this purpose.
Dr Kotnis went to China in 1937 as part of an Indian medical mission. He served on the battlefield and saved lives of many Chinese soldiers. After working for four years in China, he fell ill and died at a young age of 32.
President Xi Jinping of China in his recent visit to India continued with a tradition of meeting family members of Dr Kotnis. He met Manorama, the 93 year old sister of the famed physician and recalled "the fine representative who gave his precious life in China".
Films on Dr Kotnis have been made in Hindi, English and Chinese. Both India and China have honoured him by issuing commemorative postage stamps.
Judge Radhabinod Pal in Japan
Mr Radhabinod Pal was a member of justices during trial of Japanese leaders after second world war. He was the lone dissenting judge who found the trial a sham. His judgement was withheld from being made public and publication thereof was withheld by occupation forces. He was courageous to ask if dropping of Nuclear Bomb in Japan should also qualify as a war crime. He opined that it was a unjust trial- the victor trying to justify its actions.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Narendra Modi during his last visit to Japan that Japan still honours the dissenting Indian judge and every Japanese knows Pal.
A monument to the respected judge has been erected in Yasukuni Shrine, which honours the nation’s 2.5 million war dead, including convicted war criminals.
The author feels the need for the nation to recognize these stalwarts and publicize their contributions - who can be role models for the present generation.