In India, Queen Elizabeth’s funeral is contested by colonial legacy

NEW DELHI – Jennifer Cooke was in middle school when her choir sang for Queen Elizabeth II during the monarch’s first visit to India in 1961.

“She came in a carriage. We had to stand in a straight line and couldn’t move our eyes,” said Cook, who performed at St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was then the capital of British India, Calcutta. Can’t remember anything else, but she reads from the Bible.”

The 70-year-old retiree spent Monday in front of a television at the retirement home in New Delhi where she now lives, during a tradition funeral and procession where the Queen was last taken.

In Mumbai, Sarwar Irani watched the ceremony on his smartphone during his workday as the mall’s administrative officer. At home she has dozens of rare books, stamps and other memorabilia collected over the decades, including highlights of Elizabeth and Princess Diana.

“something about [the queen’s] The eyes and her smile told me that she must be a kind and good person,” said the 61-year-old Irani. “That glow is now gone forever.”

But most Indians, especially young people, felt a little nostalgia. The Queen’s death has sparked a complex conversation over colonial legacy here, and so when world leaders and heads of state gathered in London for service, there was no expression of grief in the country that was once an important corner of the British Empire. . , Unlike many of his counterparts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stayed at home.

Yash Marwah, a 27-year-old Mumbai activist, didn’t call the funeral a “big deal” and didn’t see it. His first thought upon hearing of the Queen’s death on 8 September was that it would see more significant events.

“I thought of all the news that wouldn’t make it in the news,” he said.

In former British colonies, ghosts of the past mourn for the Queen

Although India gained independence before Elizabeth was crowned queen, many feel that she could have at least apologized for the violence and plunder that marked British rule in the subcontinent and which led to India and Pakistan. Partition took place.

“There is a need and demand for an apology,” said historian Jyoti Atwal, who teaches at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The queen was closest to him in his third and last visit to India in 1997. Jallianwala BaghIn a place to the north where British soldiers opened fire on a gathering of unarmed Indian protesters in 1919 and killed hundreds, the queen clearly acknowledged the bloody past.

“It’s no secret that we have had some difficult events in the past,” she said. “Jallianwala Bagh, which I will visit tomorrow, is a sad example.”

Yet she did not go further, saying that “history cannot be rewritten, sometimes as much as we want. There are moments of sadness, as well as moments of joy. We must learn from suffering and Happiness must be created.”

Farewell toast to Her Majesty, in Britain’s oldest overseas territory

Atwal said that the queen played a key role in reaching the former colonies and that the new king would have to decide what to do next. “They laid the foundation for such a re-negotiation and re-creation of the role between the Crown and the colonies,” he said. “It’s a changed scenario in which Charles has to act.”

On social media, memes and posts have demanded the return of the Kohinoor, a 105.6-carat diamond originally from India that adorns the Queen’s crown. “Remind that Queen Elizabeth is not a relic of colonial times,” noted a tweet, “She was an active participant in colonialism.”

And just last week, Modi renamed the road in the heart of Delhi called Kingsway or Rajpath. He described it as a “The Symbol of Slavery.”

“Today we are leaving the past behind and filling the picture of tomorrow with new colors,” he said.

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