But this has now come a full-circle. If English language seemed to be the only common thread holding India together - how else would South and North Indians converse - at the time of Independence, today Indians have run out of options other than the Hindu religion, though this excludes more people than it encompasses. The rituals are back - the foul smell of cow urine may even feel tolerable for it brings the missing connection with the village - and even a new imagination is being built around the sacred geography of Hinduism, along those rivers, pilgrimage tales and mythical battlegrounds. All this represents a new independence, an architecture of imagination free from contamination, a going-back in time without the corruption of history.
It seems end of the time for the secular, liberal imagination of India, which has been superseded by this quest of 'true' identity. It is fair to recognise that the original vision has imploded, irreversibly perhaps, into the politics of vote bank of self-serving politicians. However, under the slogan of 'true Indianness' hides a new temptation, not of historical memory but of amnesia, and not emancipation but exclusion.
Independence from the past is not possible, and therefore, should not be the point of imagination and action. Rather, it is a reasoned engagement with the past, to meet the aspirations of the present generations, that allows us to construct a future of progress and prosperity.