Jawaharlal Nehru, gave this following speech as India's first Prime Minister
to the Constituent Assembly in New Delhi at midnight on August 14, 1947. Though
this speech is full of ideals and embellishments to inspire a nation, about
to make a new beginning, it is historic and can be recognized as the first
voice of Independent India.
Awake to Freedom
"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 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, then 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 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.
'Bharat Mata' - Mother India
(painting of Abanindranath Tagore)
The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening
of opportunity, to the greater triumphs 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 fulfill the pledges we have so often 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 so 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 imagines 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
-- Speech by Jawaharlal Nehru