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India’s tryst with destiny is turning sour, the dark clouds are ominous

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The two best mornings every year to visit Old Delhi are 26 January and 15 August. If you live in Delhi, go to Old Delhi soon after the Prime Minister ends his address from Red Fort. Take the metro. Old Delhi is all shut down. Its streets, usually with no room to walk, are all yours. On 15 August people fly kites from their terraces, on 26 January they fly pigeons. Just wave at them and ask them to let you join, and they will, entertaining you with chai and stories.

Independent India turns 72 tomorrow. Patriotic songs and the booming voice of PM Narendra Modi from the ramparts of Red Fort will reverberate through your smartphones. There will be the customary verbal attack on Pakistan, the customary reiteration of false hopes and the announcement of a new scheme, a new project, kite-flying of another sort.

Yet, this is not an Independence Day full of hope. We might as well fly kites since that is all we will soon be able to do as India’s clouds turn dark and ominous.

This is not a happy or hopeful time to be Indian. You can pretend otherwise and the mammoth propaganda machinery of the government will help you live in la-la land. If you do fly kites, you won’t be able to ignore the dark clouds.

India’s economic slowdown is so severe now that even data fudging is not hiding it. It is so bad that corporates have started speaking up despite fear of government retribution. And it is so bad that the Modi government has only one option: to further damage India’s social fabric and erode democracy.

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