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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.
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.


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