This post was written by Dominic Rai. Dominic is co-director, with Caroline Goffin, of Salt of the Sarkar.
This is part of a video series highlighting the work of Salt of the Sarkar since the beginning. The videos we are featuring, demonstrate the collaboration with others interested in this important project.
Jeremy Corbyn & John McDonnell 2014
Jeremy Corbyn told interviewer Dominic Rai outside the House of Commons in July 2014 during preparations for Salt of the Sarkar Launch: “What I think is interesting about this whole First World War commemoration project is that it started out as a piece of grandstanding and celebration by the Prime Minister. It has now become the opposite because people begin to question the history they have been taught and begin to question the whole point of war. I am impressed by the huge number of events going on in commemoration of the losses of the First World War.”
John McDonnell MP, who is now Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, added: “To be in a situation where the sacrifices of the Indian sub-continent are acknowledged and written back into history, that’s what this project is all about. I think that’s why it is so significant. That’s why we are supporting it.
This interview occurred as we visited Westminster to prepare for the launch of the Centenary edition of Across the Black Waters by Mulk Raj Anand to coincide with the arrival of the first Indian troops arrival on the Front Line in Flanders on 22 October 2014. This was the very first time that soldiers from Undivided India – from Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and many other backgrounds – had fought in Europe. Mulk Raj Anand’s novel published in London in 1940 brings their experience to life through his fiction, based on historical facts, and his memory as a teenager of seeing just a handful of soldiers from his father’s Dogra regiment return to India after the war, and being so moved by their tales vowing to tell their story one day.
Title image credit: Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, 2016 – Dominic Rai, Presentation at Heritage Day, 14 May 2016.