Seventy-five years ago, my uncle Satyamurthy, an untouchable sixteen-year-old and the first in his family to go to college, dressed in his best and joined the throngs on campus celebrating India’s liberation from the colonial yoke.

Now that the British have left, he naively believed, there will be no more poverty, no more caste oppression. Many among the downtrodden shared his hopes on that day, even as millions were forced to flee in the bloody partition of the country on sectarian lines.

In this year of Amrit (elixir, or nectar) anniversary, India has the highest number of extreme poor, caste violence is worse than ever before, and Muslims and Christians live under existential threat, while activists such as Teesta Setalvad and those framed in the Bhima Koregaon case face severe repression. Indians still await that elusive freedom.

Sujatha Gidla was raised in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, and lives in New York. She is the author of a family history, Ants Among Elephants.

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