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Politics

Modi chips away at India's colonial relics as critics doubt motives

Changes to names and buildings bring debate over Hindu nationalist agenda

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates the revamped Kartavya Path, earlier known as Rajpath, leading to the country's seat of power, on Sept. 8.   © AP

NEW DELHI -- Queen Elizabeth II's death on Sept. 8 ended an era for Britain. Half a world away, coincidentally on the very same date, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was busy inaugurating part of a revamped government district meant to help the country rid itself of the last vestiges of British colonialism.

From renaming roads that were named after British rulers to remodeling colonial buildings and pushing multibillion-dollar makeovers of historic architecture, Modi has been on a mission to clean the slate. But his campaign has sparked debate about the merits of dismantling a legacy that, however costly and painful, remains part of India's complex past.

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