Honest, loyal to country

afew days ago, britain celebrated the 100th anniversary of the participation of other peoples in world war i and world war ii. in the first war, britain recruited 100,000 chinese to help the british army in civilian tasks because its soldiers did not have time for errands such as digging trenches, cooking and cleaning the war equipment. many lost their lives as a result of the hostilities and there is a museum in london to commemorate their martyrdom. britain also recruited hundreds of thousands soldiers from its colonies in asia, and india in particular. some of them returned to their homes after the war while the others remained in britain or in one of its other colonies and settled there. one of them was indian dev raj bhasin, who was sent to fight on the german front at the beginning of the war and then moved to basra in 1914. when he was discharged from military service at the end of the war in nov 1918 he settled there and opened a shop selling sports goods and tailoring job. the majority of his income came from stitching uniforms for english soldiers and uniforms for italian prisoners. in 1933, britain sent dev’s brother, om prakash bhasin, the father of our friend shivy bhasin, to basra to perform civil and military work. he was qualified in applied science and was fluent in english. after the end of his service, he also decided to stay in basra and work there. the elder brother decided to return to his hometown of sialkot in the then india. om prakash expanded his business relatively in small trade and tailoring, in addition to his management of the english army camp canteen that was used as a detention place for italian prisoners. om prakash returned to india in 1947, married, and returned to basra by sea. in 1949 he was blessed with the birth of his eldest son shivy, and in the same year, he met the late sheikh mohammad ahmad al-jaber, the former defense minister, who asked him to come and work in kuwait there, as was the case with jashanmal in 1946. om prakash left basra for kuwait with his small family, opened a small shop to sell sports equipment and the corner of the shop was used to stitch clothes. he developed his work and started executing tailoring contracts of the ministry of education and uniforms for restaurant workers and domestic workers. his ready-made clothes included uniforms, white shirts and scout uniforms. in an interview with the al-qabas daily, shivy said he studied at the english school, near the al-salam palace, before moving to a school inside the orthopedic hospital, which was run by a doctor’s wife. he said the reason for his uncle and his father’s business in selling sports goods was that people of sialkot were fascinated by sports than the rest of the indians which included cricket, football and hockey. he says their work was flourishing during holidays, especially when vip guests visited kuwait, because that was the time the company received orders to make flags of kuwait and country of the visiting dignitaries. the late sheikh sa’ad al-abdullah was one of their customers and the first military suit they tailored for him cost 30 rupees, less than 4 dinars in those days. his workshops tailored uniforms for many senior officers, including major-general khalil shuhaiber. as demand for ready-made garments increased, bhasin found it better to import them from india. i do not think there are many of those of my age who have not heard about this family. the family has lived among us for more than 65 years, was honest in their dealings, loyal to the host country and respected the laws. however, the head of this family goes almost every year to renew his residence permit in the country and this is something really shameful.

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