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ON THE MORNING OF 15 AUGUST, India’s Independence Day, it was raining cats and dogs in Delhi. By 7 am, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was atop the ramparts of the 17th-century Red Fort, hoisting the flag and saluting the assembled soldiers and citizens from behind a glass enclosure. Amid a sea of umbrellas, children who had gathered to watch the parade ran about, as if at a disorderly festival ground; the soldiers and paramilitary troops -paraded on the wet asphalt, completely drenched.
It was an unusually gloomy Independence Day, and not merely because of the inclement weather. After a cursory presentation of his government’s achievements over the past seven years, Singh devoted almost the entirety of his eighth Independence Day speech to a series of crises: the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai; the ongoing “challenge of Naxalism”; inflation and rising food prices; the “tensions caused” by land acquisition; and, most of all, “the problem of corruption”—“a difficulty for which no government has a magic wand”.