Vol. 59 No. 2, December 2007, pp. 24–39 [Also in India’s Popular Culture: Iconic Spaces and Fluid Images edited by Jyotindra Jain; Vol. 59 No. 2, December 2007; ISBN: 978-81-85026-817, pp. 60–75]
This essay examines the annual Republic Day Parade in New Delhi to show how the cultural mechanism of image mobilization – of symbols, icons, performances and spectacles – has been deployed by the state to gain ideological control and to strategically ensure integration of the diverse and separatist elements active in India before and after Independence. The cultural pageant, comprising tableaux and dances, was used to represent the nation’s unity in diversity. This visual identity propagated through print and electronic media, philately, tourism, and Festivals of India, became a powerful tool for imaging India’s specific cultural identity and for national integration of a culturally diverse society.