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Mihir Sharma

India’s 75th Anniversary Is One to Forget

For better or worse, much of the country no longer sees the departure of the British on Aug. 15, 1947 as its real independence day. 

Modi loves nationalist theater.

Modi loves nationalist theater.

Photographer: Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

Indians who lived through the 50th anniversary of independence, in 1997, will have pretty clear memories of the event. A few years into its program of economic liberalization, India seemed to be on the cusp of greatness. A patriotic music video highlighting the country’s diversity, released by singer-composer A.R. Rahman, practically became a second national anthem for my generation.

A quarter-century later, India’s 75th Independence Day will pass on Aug. 15 with far less consequence. The current government in New Delhi loves nothing more than pomp and circumstance; Prime Minister Narendra Modi knows that every such bit of nationalist theater further secures his position at the apex of Indian politics. Yet, aside from a special logo that looks like it was designed by a committee at the Ministry of Culture — probably because it was — and a campaign urging every household to fly the national flag, the government has done little to mark the occasion.