I enjoy Brahma Chellaney’s perspectives: They are often fresh and thought-provoking. However, judging by his “The shackles of history in a democracy” Opinion piece in the Feb. 5 edition, he should find a new history teacher.

To say that India has had a “static” historical debate ignores the rich and varied views of Indian historians on the consequences of colonialism, wars and independence, thanks in part to its wholesome (British) tradition that teachers — not government-approved textbooks — substantially determine what is taught. For the best historians that usually means recognizing the complexity of alternatives and Indian agency rather than simple victimhood. Balance requires noting that (unlike most Europeans) Indians who fought in the war — on both the British and Japanese sides — were volunteers, not conscripts; that Patnaik’s estimate of the costs of imperialism is much higher than others; and that the rush to Indian independence in 1947 was not a purely British objective.

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