From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Amar Jawan Jyoti, National War Memorial
Mains level : Read the attached story
The iconic Amar Jawan Jyoti (AJJ) at India Gate was extinguished as a part of its merger with the flame at the National War Memorial (NWM). This has sparked a political controversy.
What is the Amar Jawan Jyoti?
- The eternal flame at the AJJ underneath India Gate in central Delhi was an iconic symbol of the nation’s tributes to the soldiers who have died for the country in various wars and conflicts since Independence.
- Established in 1972, it was to mark India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 War, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
- The then PM Indira Gandhi had inaugurated it on Republic Day 1972, after India defeated Pakistan in December 1971.
Description of the bust
- The key elements of the Amar Jawan Jyoti included a black marble plinth, a cenotaph, which acted as a tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
- The plinth had an inverted L1A1 self-loading rifle with a bayonet, on top of which was a soldier’s war helmet.
How the eternal flame was kept burning?
- For 50 years the eternal flame had been burning underneath India Gate, without being extinguished.
- But on Friday, the flame was finally put off, as it was merged with another eternal flame at the National War Memorial.
- Since 1972, when it was inaugurated, it used to be kept alive with the help of cylinders of liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG.
- One cylinder could keep one burner alive for a day and a half.
- In 2006 that was changed. Though a project that cost around Rs 6 lakh the fuel for the flames was changed from LPG to piped natural gas, or PNG.
- It is through this piped gas that the flame marking the tribute to Indian soldiers had been kept alive eternally.
Why was it placed at India Gate?
- The India Gate, All India War Memorial, as it was known earlier, was built by the British in 1931.
- It was erected as a memorial to around 90,000 Indian soldiers of the British Indian Army, who had died in several wars and campaigns till then.
- Names of more than 13,000 dead soldiers are mentioned on the memorial commemorating them.
- As it was a memorial for the Indian soldiers killed in wars, the Amar Jawan Jyoti was established underneath it by the government in 1972.
Reasons for its relocation
- The correct perspective is that the flame will not be extinguished, but just moved to be merged with the one at the National War Memorial.
- The flame which paid homage to the soldiers killed in the 1971 War, does not even mention their name, and the India Gate is a “symbol of our colonial past”.
- The names of all Indian martyrs from all the wars, including 1971 and wars before and after it are housed at the National War Memorial.
- Hence it is a true tribute to have the flame paying tribute to martyrs there.
- Further, it can also be seen as part of the government’s redevelopment of the entire Central Vista, of which India Gate, the AJJ and the National War Memorial are parts of.
What else is planned with the extinguish?
- The canopy next to the India Gate will get a statue of the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
- The new statue will be 28 feet high.
- Till the statue is completed, a hologram statue of Bose will be placed under the canopy, which he will unveil on January 23.
- The canopy used to have a statue of Kind George V, which was removed in 1968.
- January 23 this year marks his 125th birth anniversary.
- From this year onwards, Republic Day celebrations will start on January 23, as opposed to the usual practice of starting it on January 24, to mark the birth anniversary of Bose.
- It will end on January 30, the day Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.
- The government had earlier announced that Bose’s birth anniversary would be celebrated as Parakram Divas.
What is the National War Memorial and when was it made?
- The National War Memorial, which is around 400 meters from India Gate was inaugurated in February 2019, in an area of around 40 acres.
- It was built to commemorate all the soldiers who have laid down their lives in the various battles, wars, operations and conflicts of Independent India.
- There are many independent memorials for such soldiers, but no memorial existed commemorating them all at the national level.
- Discussions to build such a memorial had been ongoing since 1961, but it did not come up.
- The architecture of the memorial is based on four concentric circles.
- Largest is the Raksha Chakra or the Circle of Protection which is marked by a row of trees, each of which represent soldiers, who protect the country.
- The Tyag Chakra, the Circle of Sacrifice, has circular concentric walls of honour based on the Chakravyuh.
- The walls have independent granite tablets for each of the soldiers who have died for the country since Independence.
- As of today, there are 26,466 names of such soldiers on these granite tablets etched in golden letters.
- A tablet is added every time a soldier is killed in the line of duty.
- The final is the Amar Chakra, the Circle of Immortality, which has an obelisk, and the Eternal Flame.
- Busts of the 21 soldiers who have been conferred with the highest gallantry award of the country, Param Vir Chakra, are also installed at the memorial.