Indian media: Hope and introspection on Independence Day

Image caption Indian is celebrating its 67th Independence Day

Media commentators are celebrating India's 67th Independence Day, praising the country's achievements but also stressing its continuing challenges.

"We see many dimensions of progress - famines are history; we manufacture much of what we need and are no longer threatened by competition from across the seas; we have opened up our economy… We are the world's largest democracy," The Tribune, in an editorial, says.

Taking a more nuanced view, The Times of India says: "Growth is down, inflation is up. Internal security challenges are compounded by unsettled international borders… Yet, there remains the confidence that a child born in India today will enjoy better opportunities than her parents' generation."

The Hindustan Times comments on demands for new states, saying that "India is a work in progress… It's time to fine-tune India's federal structure to make room for regional aspirations".

"There are two abiding images of the meaning of 15 August. There is Nehru, in his inimitable way, announcing a new tryst with destiny. There is the poignant absence of Gandhi, mourning loss, the erasure of an ethical ambition. India marches on, with all its contradictions," writes senior analyst Pratap Bhanu Mehta in The Indian Express.

Senior journalist Antara Dev Sen, in her article in The Asian Age, says that "the problem with our democracy is that our representatives do not represent us. They represent their own interests… Perhaps we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves".

Meanwhile, newspapers feel the sinking of the INS Sindhurakshak submarine after a blast and fire accident in Mumbai is a "severe blow" to India's strength in maritime warfare.

The sinking is "a major blow to the Indian navy, which depends on a handful of such stealth vessels to guard the country's vast coastal swathe", The Pioneer reports.

The loss of the submarine means that "20% of India's underwater fleet is now inoperable", says The Indian Express.

Moving on to other news, India will now import onions from Pakistan and Iran in an effort to bring down the vegetable's soaring prices, the NDTV website reports.

The government has also curbed exports by setting a minimum price, making onions more expensive for foreigners and cheaper at home, the report adds.

In foreign affairs, India and China have held their first talks on Central Asia, The Hindu reports.

The talks come weeks after China "checkmated India in winning an oilfield deal in Kazakhstan", the report says, and quotes a Chinese analyst as saying that the dialogue mechanism will "help both countries better coordinate their positions and manage their recently competing interests".

Moon mission

Meanwhile, India has parted ways with Russia over its next moon mission, the Deccan Herald reports.

"India's second moon mission, Chandrayaan-II, with a moon lander, will be a solo effort by India as the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) have not been able to get on the same page technologically," the report says.

In domestic news, Vice President Hamid Ansari has been criticised by the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party for comparing MPs to "anarchists", the DNA reports.

"Every single rule in the rule book, every single etiquette is being violated... If the honourable members wish the House to become a federation of anarchists, then it is a different matter," he said in the parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Ansari defended himself saying his comments were not meant as allegations against anyone, but has now promised to review his remark.

And finally, the government has honoured six people for their technological innovations to help differently-abled people, The Times of India reports.

Among them are IT professionals Arun Mehta - who earlier coded a software programme for renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and went on to build many applications for disabled people - and Bhushan Verma - who developed a tool for children to help them learn basic concepts, including social skills, language and self-expression.

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