Empire shaped the world. There is an abyss at the heart of dishonest history textbooks

Moni Mohsin in The Guardian:

2418When I was a child in Lahore in Pakistan, my parents employed a driver called Sultan. Sultan, a retired soldier, was from a village near Jhelum. He was a cheerful man in his 60s who readily joined in our games of badminton. But to me the most interesting fact about Sultan was that he could speak Italian. A fragmentary, broken Italian, but Italian nonetheless, picked up as a prisoner of war in Italy. He called me signorina and taught me three Italian words: si, grazie and buongiorno. Decades later, when I told my children about Sultan, they were gobsmacked. What was a Pakistani villager doing fighting in Italy? He wasn’t Pakistani then, I explained, he was Indian. Sultan was one of more than two million Indian soldiers who fought for the allies in the second world war. “No! Really?” they breathed.

My children (daughter 17, son 15) were born and raised in London and have had the good fortune to attend fantastic schools where they have been offered, alongside the usual array of subjects, a rich diet of music, drama, art, sport and languages. Their extracurricular clubs include Arabic, feminism, astronomy, mindfulness and carpentry. In my convent school in Lahore, I had to listen in respectful silence. In London, they are encouraged to question and argue.

Yet, for all the range and candour of their education, they haven’t once encountered Britain’s colonial past in school.

More here.