India will get its first National War Memorial (NWM) over four decades after it was first proposed by the armed forces.
The project had been pending for decades under previous governments, including the NDA-1.
The memorial, with the names of all of Independent India’s war dead, will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 25.
The Ministry of Defence will shortly give the media a preview of the memorial located in the ‘C Hexagon’ of the India Gate circle.
MoD officials said the memorial was to have been completed six months after the cabinet note was passed in September 2015, but was delayed for several reasons.
Construction began only in 2017 after a global design contest which was won by Chennai-based firm WeBe.
Builders had to overcome design and technical challenges to match the design on the ground.
The memorial could not be higher than 1.5 metres above the ground to conform to heritage guidelines. The design is a series of four concentric circles or Chakras around a main obelisk like the national symbol, the Dharmachakra.
An eternal flame will burn in the centre of the Amar Chakra. The Veerta Chakra describes the six battles fought by India after Independence.
The third, Tyaag Chakra, has two concentric circles with the names of over 22,000 war dead, each name with a bricksized granite plaque.
The Raksha Chakra, a circle of trees will depict the unknown soldier protecting the nation and studded with the bust of the Param Vir Chakra winners. One MoD official calls it “a monument the nation can be proud of.”
The memorial missed two deadlines – around Independence Day last year and Republic Day this year.
The government is unlikely to be worried by these delays – the war memorial will be unveiled just weeks before the Election Commission calls for elections in early March.
Both the NWM and One Rank One Pension (OROP) were key promises for the armed forces in the BJP’s 2014 election manifesto. The government can pronounce mission accomplished for both.
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