This week saw the 74th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy—one of the pivotal moments of World War II. It was, as usual, widely commented upon in countries that were part of the Allied Nations. India should take note.

Some 2.5 million Indian troops served in the war as part of the British empire in theatres that ranged from West Asia and Africa to Southeast Asia. India also played a vital economic, logistical and industrial role. Yet, little attention has been paid within India to this, save through the prism of Subhash Chandra Bose. This has begun to change of late, but it is confined to a few academics and authors. Meanwhile, World War I, where over a million Indian troops served overseas—with some kept on after the war to serve in places as diverse as Mesopotamia and Palestine—continues to be ignored.

This is a pity. The fact that India took part in the wars as a subject of the empire does not make its role—or the industrial and socioeconomic impact of the wars on India—any less important. It is a history that deserves public debate.

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