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India, A Land of Belonging

Today, the ideals that have long underpinned India's pluralistic democracy are being increasingly threatened by rising intolerance and an increasingly belligerent majoritarianism. On the 70th anniversary of India's independence, all Indians must rededicate themselves to their country's founding values.

NEW DELHI – Seventy years ago this month, at midnight on August 15, 1947, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru proclaimed India’s independence from the British Empire. Nehru called it “a moment that comes but rarely in history, when we pass from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.” With that, the country embarked on a remarkable experiment in governance that continues to this day.

It was an experiment that Winston Churchill thought implausible. “India is merely a geographical expression,” he once dismissively barked. “It is no more a single country than the Equator.”

Churchill was rarely right about India. But it is true that no other country matches India’s extraordinary mix of ethnic groups, profusion of mutually incomprehensible languages, varieties of topography and climate, diversity of religions and cultural practices, and disparate levels of economic development.

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