As India turns 71 on Wednesday, here is a selection of 10 articles from across publications that capture facets of history and the challenges that the country faces.

  1. The freedom struggle gave us a creative, constructive and inclusive idea of nation. But the narrative of nationalism today goes against that vision, laments Communist Party of India leader D Raja in Indian Express.
  2.   Periyar and Ambedkar set fire to the Manusmriti in their radical protest against caste almost a century ago. But in the age of Hindutva, outdated injunctions glorifying a hierarchical and unequal social order have risen again from the ashes, writes Ananya Vajpeyi in The Hindu. 
  3.   Seven decades and change later, the centrifugal forces that worried the Indian state’s founders are no longer existential threats. But spatial inequality will loom large over the country’s growth and its federal structure if it is not addressed, says this editorial in Mint.
  4.   The persona of Narendra Modi looms so large over Indian politics in its commanding and ubiquitous presence, his will seems so superimposed upon the destiny of the nation, that it is tempting to place the entire burden of the ascendancy of moral cretinism on his persona. He certainly has a share of blame in the moral condition of the Republic. But there is a disquieting thought we need to confront. Is Modi a symptom or cause? Pratap Bhanu Mehta wonders in Open. 
  5.   As street children in the national capital with torn clothes and malnourished faces try to persuade the affluent to buy national flags for their mere survival, the tales of our fractured independence become sharper, says Avijit Pathak in The Wire. 
  6.   Mistakes are to be expected in leadership as they are in regular folk – large ones such as the one Emperor Ashoka lamented in his self-mortification over the Kalinga war or small ones. Owning them is the first step towards correcting them and preventing their recurrence, writes Gopalkrishna Gandhi in The Hindu as he looks back at the prime ministers and their vision.   
  7. Shoaib Daniyal details the brief dispute over naming India and Pakistan in 1947, which was reminiscent of the problems Greece and Macedonia faced for 27 years till they resolved the problem in June.  
  8. As India celebrated 70 years of freedom last year, Harsh Mander wrote on  worrying reminders that surfaced for the country’s religious minorities and oppressed castes and classes of how freedom continues to be stolen from them in the glittering India of today.  
  9. The two-nation theory wasn’t about cultural differences between Hindus and Muslims but was a strictly political premise on the need for two separate nations. Haroon Khalid last year explained how Pakistan misconstrued the two-nation theory in its quest for an identity. 
  10. On November 25, 1949, BR Ambedkar, in his last speech to the Constituent Assembly, spoke of the need to give up the grammar of anarchy, to avoid hero-worship, and to work towards a social – not just a political – democracy. The speech resonates even today as independent India turns 71.