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India Praised For Giving Safety To Jew Refugees This International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Two Maharajas, Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja of Nawanagar and Rajaram III of Kolhapur, established camps for Polish child refugees.

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A conservator at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's conservation and research center points out a hidden pocket on a piece of clothing worn by a prisoner at a Nazi concentration camp. VOA

By Arul Louis

India has been hailed for giving refuge to Jews fleeing the Nazi genocide, keeping with its tradition of being a haven for those escaping religious persecution around the world as the UN observed the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The president of B’nai B’rith International, Charles Kaufman, said here on Monday that India lived up to the tradition of a nation of righteousness when thousands of Jews found safety and were welcomed when they fled the Holocaust carried out by Nazis in Europe.

This was a uniquely overlooked episode that needs to be recognised, he said while speaking at a meeting here on “India: A Distant Haven During the Holocaust” that was organised by India’s UN Mission and the B’nai B’rith, a global Jewish service organisation.

India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said that India receiving refugees fleeing the Holocaust was in tradition of welcoming Jews that goes back thousands of years.

Anti-Semitism was a rare phenomenon in India and it occurred in 2008 in Mumbai when the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists attacked the Chabad centre, he said.

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A sign during a protest gathering on the block of the Jewish Community Center in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, where the funeral for Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz. VOA

While Jews received refuge, they in turn have contributed to India in the arts, culture and economy, he said.

Some served in the armed forces and are treasured as national heroes, he added.

As the Nazis began their genocidal persecution of Jewish people in Europe, India was engaged in its freedom struggle, yet managed to welcome the refugees, he said.

While anti-Semitism and intolerance again show signs of re-emerging, the examples of compassion in the midst of tragedy must be beacons of tolerance, he said.

An author and expert on Jews and minorities in India, Kenneth Robbins, said that not only for the Jews, but for many others India was a place where minorities were able to flourish.

He gave the example of the Sidis, who came to India as slaves and rose to be rulers – the only instance of Africans ruling non-Africans, he said.

The several thousand Jews who fled Nazi persecution to India in the 1930s, came in several waves starting with the German Jews. They were followed by others from Italy; Austria, East and Central Europe; North Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Poland, Robbins said.

Left to right: Ukraine’s Parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy, German President Joachim Gauck, Hungarian President Janos Ader, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and his wife Marina, President of the European Council Donald Tusk and Ukrainian Prime Minister, Volodymyr Groysman light candles at a monument in Babi Yar ravine where Nazi troops machine-gunned tens of thousands of Jews during WWII, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sept. 29, 2016. VOA

There were also those who married Indians studying in Germany and elsewhere who came with their spouses to India.

Yusuf Khwaja Hamied, the chairman of Cipla, brought down the price of AIDS medications to $6 making to affordable to millions in Africa, saving their lives, he said.

His mother was Luba Derczanska, a Lithuanian Jew who married his father Khwaja Abdul Hamied when he was a student in Berlin, he said.

Among the thousands of Jewish children who came India was Tom Stoppard, the award-winning British playwright and screenwriter. Born Tomas Straussler, he went to school in India in India after his family fled Czechoslavakia.

Stephen Tauber came to India as a child in 1937 when his physician father was offered a job by Ganga Singh, the Maharaja of Bikaner, and received a visa to leave Austria escaping the Nazis.

During his time in Bikaner, he witnessed religious harmony among Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Jews, who respected each other’s religions.

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Remains of Victims in the Nazi Camp, Wikimedia

Two Maharajas, Digvijaysinhji Ranjitsinhji Jadeja of Nawanagar and Rajaram III of Kolhapur, established camps for Polish child refugees.

Speaking at a Holocaust memorial ceremony earlier on Monday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that not only was anti-Semitism still strong, it was getting worse and we must “reaffirm our resolve to fight the hatred that still plagues our world today”.

“Inevitably, where there is anti-Semitism, no one else is safe,” he warned.

“Across the world, we are seeing a disturbing rise in other forms of bigotry.

Also Read: Online Hate Thriving Even After The Recent Hate Crime In The U.S.

“Intolerance today spreads at lightning speed across the Internet and social media and most disturbingly, hate is moving into the mainstream – in liberal democracies and authoritarian systems alike,” Guterres added. (IANS)

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

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Indian Government Spent Nearly Rs 4Kcr on Swachh Bharat Info, Education

“The Swachh Bharat mission can serve as a model for other countries around the world that urgently need to improve access to sanitation for the world’s poorest."

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The government's much publicised Swachh Bharat Mission -- which aims to enhance the level of sanitation in India and make the country open defecation free (ODF). Flickr

To make the Swachh Bharat Mission a success, India mobilised huge resources for information, education and communication (IEC) activities, with a new report estimating that the cash expenditure by the government, private sector, and the development community to be between Rs 3,500-4,000 crore in five years since the programme’s launch.

Of this cash spend, around 20 per cent was spent by the erstwhile Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, around 35 per cent by the state sanitation departments, around 25 per cent by other government ministries, and around 20 per cent by the private sector and the development sector collectively, said the report by consultancy firm Dalberg Advisors.

Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the government has shown remarkable ability to leverage resources across the public sector, private sector, media, and civil society, to make sanitation a mass movement in India.

In fact, the study estimates that the Swachh Bharat Mission mobilised a spend equivalent worth Rs 22,000-Rs 26,000 crore in monetary and non-monetary information, education and communication activities.

The researchers reached this figure by identifying the key activities and costs by different actors, modelling the number of “exposures” created, and estimating the investment required if the government were to “buy” these exposures in an efficient market.

An average person living in rural India was exposed to between 2,500-3,300 SBM related messages over the last five years, according to the study titled “An assessment of the reach and value of IEC activities under Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen)”.

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Young Indians want to strengthen the ‘Swachh Bharat’ initiative. Wikimedia Commons

A large majority of these messages were routed via newly constructed toilets, mass media, and the

Swachh Bharat logo. Other significant contributors included ambient media such as wall murals and hoardings, and other conventional channels such as inter-personal communication (IPC), digital media, and cinema.

Since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 2, 2014, over 10 crore households toilets have been built in the country, leading to a significant improvement in sanitation coverage and reduction in open defecation.

Since 2014, engagement from the top political and government leadership, especially the Prime Minister, induced catalytic participation across segments, giving the cause of sanitation consistent attention and focus.

This translated into a mission mode approach where a range of government ministries, private sector organisations, the philanthropic ecosystem, civil society, and the media and entertainment sector participated to bring sanitation messaging and awareness to citizens at significant scale.

Also Read: Motorola Launches its First Smart TV in India

When Modi visits the US later this month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will honour the success of Swachh Bharat that has transformed lives around the country.

“Globally, sanitation-related diseases kill nearly 500,000 children under the age of five every year. Yet despite its importance, sanitation has not received significant attention. A lot of governments are not willing to talk about it, in part because there are not easy solutions.

Before the Swachh Bharat mission, over 500 million people in India did not have access to safe sanitation, and now, the majority do. There is still a long way to go, but the impacts of access to sanitation in India are already being realised,” the Gates Foundation said in a statement.

“The Swachh Bharat mission can serve as a model for other countries around the world that urgently need to improve access to sanitation for the world’s poorest.” (IANS)