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We find ourselves slowly slipping back into the feudal mess we came out of Among national festivals in many countries, Independence Day usually takes first place. It’s the day that celebrates the birth of a nation, the shaking off of colonial oppression, the welding of many ethnic groups into one modern state. When India celebrates 75 years as a nation on Aug. 15, it’s also an occasion to ask ourselves: Has independence made a difference? How has freedom changed us? Have we realized the hopes we had? Not easy questions to answer. Looking at the broad picture, one can see two contradictory movements in almost every area of life. On the one hand, we celebrate the rise of the ordinary person, the aam aadmi, the aam aurat. Today the president of the republic is a tribal woman, a public statement that even the most oppressed groups can make it to the top. "Standards of education are in decline almost everywhere, universities are in disarray, and in many places, there’s violent hostility to girls going to school" And yet, on the other hand, every day brings home the almost total failure of the sarkar — the ruling class. In those memorable words of Gurcharan Das: “India grows by night,

If Amazon, with barely 2% of the retail market, can be called “East India Company 2.0”, how would one describe inviting foreign capital to buy into hitherto government monopolies?This piece was first published on The India Cable – a premium newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas – and has been updated and republished here. To subscribe to The India Cable, click here. After accusing Infosys of working against Indian interests, the RSS-affiliated publication Panchjanya has described Amazon as “East India Company 2.0”, seeking a monopoly in Indian retail with “initiatives for seizing the economic, political and personal freedom of Indian citizens.” There are accusations that Amazon has spent $1.2 billion in legal fees or allegedly underhand payments to expand its Indian operations. The US authorities are ostensibly investigating. The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), affiliated to the RSS, has also argued that e-commerce giants like Amazon will hurt small traders and kirana stores in India. But the Reliance group and the Tatas are also in the same space (Jio Mart and Big Basket). The Tatas are tying up with Walmart to build a bigger e-commerce platform in India. If Amazon harms small kirana stores, so will Jio Mart, Big Basket and the

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