The protests erupting all over India about the changes to citizenship embodied in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act are heartwarming because they tell us that Indian democracy is alive and well at its grassroots, despite its current parliamentarians having ridden roughshod over the constitution (Jails fill amid rage on the streets, 21 December). This constitution was carefully debated and crafted in the constituent assembly over a three-year period as its makers, trained in the art of nationalist resistance, wrested control from the colonial state in an extraordinary exercise of moral and political legitimacy that laid bare the nature of British colonialism.
In Henry Maine’s words, British India was a “most extraordinary experiment” involving “the virtually despotic government of a dependency by a free people”. The postcolonial state of India that emerged in 1947, despite the bloody internecine conflict at its birth, did fulfil its promise at some level, to its citizens of “a sovereign, socialist and democratic republic” with justice, liberty and equality to all for the next 70 years. The constitutional imbroglio that India is in today is a result of a hasty and communally motivated act that goes against the vision of the architects of this great and diverse nation and its remarkable constitution.
Professor of south Asian history, University of Sussex
• Re your report (Canada police prepared to shoot Indigenous activists, documents show, 20 December), yes this is awful, and I appreciate you sharing it. However, I would love it if you would start including the responsibility of England for the colonialism here in Canada, starting with Rupert’s Land, which was appropriated with the stroke of a pen in 1670 – which led to the extraction of this region through the Hudson Bay Company.
Absolutely everything about the way Canada is now started in England. England has benefited enormously from colonialism in Canada.
I am not excusing the contemporary state for the continuance, but your article is not properly set in the context that actually admits responsibility.
PhD candidate, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
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