India just completed 71 years of independence. India became a free country on 15th August 1947.

When celebrating my birthday, for example, I turn 21 years old, I will celebrate my 21st birthday because I completed 21 years. Is this correct?

Well, India just completed 71 years of independence, and in all the news, etc, they're calling 15th August 2018 as our 72nd Independence Day. Now is that correct as well?

I'm a little confused about this. Can anyone tell me which one of the above is correct?

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about English but about counting years. – AmE speaker Aug 16 '18 at 4:39

Your first birthday was one year after you were born, whereas India's first independence day was August 15, 1947, the day of independence from Britain. Subsequent "independence days" were the anniversaries.

  • In some cultures the day you are born counts as your "first birthday". – user184130 Aug 15 '18 at 21:43
  • Which cultures? – Michael Harvey Aug 15 '18 at 21:51
  • China and others in East Asia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Asian_age_reckoning – user184130 Aug 15 '18 at 21:53
  • 1
    @James To be fair to them, it does make very little logical sense that the day of your actual birth is not your birthday, but each subsequent calendrically identical day, though not the day of your birth, is your birthday. It makes even less sense when you consider that the day of your birth is also referred to as your birthday, just not when counting them. By convention, we celebrate our twenty-first birthday on the day when we have lived for twenty-one years, but logically, it’s our twenty-second birthday—or even more logically, the twenty-first anniversary of our (one and only) birthday. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 15 '18 at 22:27

They are counting the day of independence (15th August 1947) as the first independence day.

So for example:

15th August 1947 = 1st independence day- zeroth anniversary

15th August 1948 = 2nd independence day - first anniversary

15th August 1949 = 3rd independence day - second anniversary


This is known as zero-based indexing where the first element of a sequence is given an index of 0.

  • 2
    There is no such thing as a zeroth anniversary. – tchrist Aug 15 '18 at 21:24

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