We on our side, have also added a chapter to the history of the World. Look at the way in which subject peoples in history won their freedom. Let us also consider the methods by which power was acquired. How did men like Washington, Napoleon, Cromwell, Lenin, Hitler and Mussolini get into power? Look at the methods of blood and steel, of terrorism and assassination, of bloodshed and anarchy by which these so called great men of the world came into the possession of power. Here in this land under the leadership of one who will go down in history as perhaps the greatest man of our age (loud cheers) we have opposed patience to fury, quietness of spirit to bureaucratic tyranny and are acquiring power through peaceful and civilised methods. What is the result? The transition is being effected with the least bitterness, with utterly no kind of hatred at all. The very fact that we are appointing Lord Mountbatten as the Governor-General of India, shows the spirit of understanding and friendliness in which this whole transition is being effected. (Cheers.)
You, Mr President, referred to the sadness in our hearts, to the sorrow which also clouds our rejoicings. May I say that we are in an essential sense responsible for it also though not entirely. From 1600, Englishmen have come to this country-priests and nuns, merchants and adventurers, diplomats and statesmen, missionaries and idealists. They bought and sold, marched and fought, plotted and profited, helped and healed. The greatest among them wished to modernise
the country, to raise its intellectual and moral standards, its political status. They wished to regenerate the whole people. But the small among them worked with sinister objective. They tried to increase
the disunion in the country, made the country poorer, weaker and
more disunited. They also have had their chance now.
we are attaining is the fulfillment of this dual tendency among British
administrators. While India is attaining freedom, she is attaining it in
a manner which does not produce joy in the hearts of people or a
radiant smile on their faces. Some of those who were charged with
the responsibility for the administration of this country, tried to
accentuate communal consciousness and bring about the present
result which is a logical outcome of the policies adopted by the lesser
minds of Britain. But I would never blame them. Were we not
victims, ready victims, so to say, of the separatist tendencies foisted on
us? Should we not now correct our national faults of character, our
domestic despotism, our intolerance which has assumed the different forms of obscurantism of narrow-mindedness, of superstitious bigotry?
Others were able to play on our weakness because we had them.
I would like therefore to take this opportunity to call for self examination,
for a searching of hearts. We have gained but we have
not gained in the manner we wished to gain and if we have, not done
so, the responsibility is our own. And when this pledge says that we
have to serve our country, we can best serve our country by removing
these fundamental defects which have prevented us from gaining the
objective of a free and united India.
Now that India is divided, it is
our duty not to indulge in words of anger. They lead us nowhere. We
must avoid passion, and wisdom never go together. The body politic
may be divided but the body historic lives on. (Hear, hear.)
Political divisions, physical partitions, are external but the psychological
divisions are deeper. The cultural cleavages are the more dangerous.
We should not allow them to grow. What we should do is to preserve
those cultural ties, those spiritual bonds which knit our peoples
together into one organic whole.
Patient consideration, slow process
of education, adjustment to one another's needs, the discovery of
points of view which are common to both the dominions in the
matter of Communications, Defence, Foreign Affairs, these are the
things which should be allowed to grow in the daily business of life
and administration. It is by developing such attitudes that we can
once again draw near and gain the lost unity of this country. That is
the only way to it.
Photograph: Manpreet Romana/AFP/Getty Images
Also read: 'The people are the masters of the country'