Archive for Month: September 2020

The Sikh Contributions to WWI &II

Surinder Dhesi gave a talk about the contribution of Sikh and Indian soldiers during the first and second world wars noting how the contribution and sacrifices made by Sikhs and other non-European nations and communities can often be under-played.

At the start of World War I the Sikhs, who contributed disproportionately to India’s armed forces, were promised they would be granted an independent Sikh Kingdom. They suffered heavy casualties on the Western Front amongst the 130,000 Sikhs who took part.
After the end of World War I, within six months, the British Empire, which needed Sikhs so badly in 1914-18, turned its own machine guns on them in the 1919 JillianWara Bagh Amritsar Massacre.

In WWII a Sikh contingent proved vital backup to the British Forces in France in 1940 and when they were amongst those evacuated at companies were evacuated at Dunkirk. Sikh pilots also contributed to the Battle of Britain and subsequently in bombing raids over Germany.

Sikh regiments played a major part in the operations in Italy, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, East Africa and the Far East including Burma. By the end of the war fourteen Victoria Crosses were awarded to the Sikhs, whom fought on land, sky and sea and south Asian merchant seamen living around the ports of London, Cardiff, Liverpool and South Shields played a significant role maintaining supply lines to Britain.

In addition to meeting her own requirements, India’s new factories produced much of the textiles required by the military.

In 1946 Colonel Landed Saras-Field lamented and argued in agonising terms about the ‘Betrayal of the Sikhs’ during the grotesque and undemocratic British-Indian colonial ‘Transfer of Power’ of 1947. In a direct call to the British government, he protested about how the Sikh political and economic interests had been totally forgotten, carving up the two states of India and Pakistan and not living up to the promise of giving back Sikhs their kingdom in the Northern region of the Indian subcontinent.

History books, the school curriculum and TV movies usually offer but skimpy acknowledgement of the role of non-European soldiers in WW1 and WWII. This can be painful for British Sikhs whose forefathers fought and died on the front-line for the UK. Surinder expressed a hope that this country might move to greater recognition of the contribution of Sikhs and other ethnic minorities in the World Wars especially by acknowledging this more in what is taught in schools. For future generations to grow up to with a more balanced understanding of the contributions of the Sikhs and others might help towards better understanding a for all.

Transition to Sustainable Transport – 28th Aug 2020

two white and red tesla charging station

Our speaker on Friday 28th August was our own Nigel Deakin who informed us of the rapid progress which is being made in the development of electric vehicles. Tesla has emerged as the market leader in this field, receiving many awards and accolades, including being named the safest cars on the road.

One of the disadvantages of electric vehicles up until now, for both cars and lorry’s, has been the limited mileage their batteries have achieve between charges.  However, battery technology is developing at an amazing rate. Many cars can now travel over 300 miles on a single charge and its forecast that within a few years this will increase to over 500 miles. And developments are afoot to drastically reduce the time it takes to recharge during journeys.

Tesla has invested heavily in battery development and manufacturing to the point where they produce more batteries than all other car manufacturers put together. Their mission statement is:

“To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport” – and Tesla’s patents are open to all.

With new high tech factories under construction for car assembly and battery manufacture, it’s predicted that prices will fall to more than match the cost of the current fossil fuelled vehicles we drive today.  Nigel’s enthusiasm for the subject took another step forward this week when he  drove a Tesla for the first time – and he’s sold on the technology.   

 

two white and red tesla charging station
Photo by Chad Russell on Pexels.com

Rotary feed thousands in Cape Town Covid – Sept 2020

Rotary has used the ‘infrastructure’ ot set up to end polio to help governments deal with Covid but they’ve also been engaged in addressing more basic poverty-related issues in third worl countries.  For example in Cape Town Rotarians have been feeding thousands: the photo above is of some of the food purchased by Rotarians to this end.

You can read more here.