Why a French regiment marching on Republic Day won't do India proud

Instead of anti-colonial and anti-racist solidarity, we have Islamophobic 'unity' with a colonial-imperialist legacy.

 |  1-minute read |   26-01-2016
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35th Infantry Regiment of France did not "serve in Algiers in 1830", it invaded Algiers in 1830 - a colonial invasion that faced a popular resistance! And it participated in the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan too. What a shame that today, India invites that regiment to march to mark India's Republic Day. Instead of anti-colonial and anti-racist solidarity, we have Islamophobic "unity" with a colonial-imperialist legacy. Would India invite, say, a British regiment that had served in 1857 or Jallianwala Bagh in India, to march on Republic Day? (Well, I suppose we should "console" ourselves that our own troops are assured the colonial-era protections of the AFSPA in the NE, Kashmir and so on.)

It's also sad that Indian media, reporting on this "first ever" event of French troops marching on Republic Day, see no need to give any context to statements saying "The 35th Infantry Regiment's origin dates back to its raising in 1604 at Lorraine, France. The battalion has varied combat experiences, having served in Algeria, Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan, amongst other places. It has 12 battle honours to its credit."

What was a "combat experience" to this regiment was the beginning of colonial subjugation and imperialist occupation to others. The invasion and devastation of Iraq has undoubtedly paved the way for the ISIS.

Republic Day should be a day to reflect on the meaning of the republic and the Constitution for our marginalised and oppressed "publics" - the women, the Dalits, the adivasis, the minorities, the disabled, the queer, the dissenting voices...This would be truly meaningful - in contrast to triumphalist displays of military hardware.

The above article first appeared on the author's Facebook page.

Writer

Kavita Krishnan Kavita Krishnan @kavita_krishnan

Secretary, AIPWA and Polit Bureau member, CPI(ML), editor, Liberation, and formerly a student activist with the AISA and former Jt Secy, JNUSU.

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