NEHRU SPEECH TO THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY ON 14 AUGUST 1947
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her successes and, her. failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater trumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?
Freedom and power bring responsibility. That responsibility rests upon this’ Assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.
That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we might fulfil the pledges we have so oft-en taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to, wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over and so we have to labour and to work and work hard to give reality to. our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for any one of them to imagine that it can live apart. Peace has been said to be indivisible, so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this One World that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.
To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make appeal. to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill-will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.