INDIA’S STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM – SPEECHES OF GREAT LEADERS.
The spirit of freedom from times immemorial has been the inner voice of each human being. The nation has got independence after a long drawn battle from the foreigners at the cost of sacrifice of crores of our countrymen for centuries. We are celebrating 15th August as Independence Day since 1947 but the country has still to liberate from many problems and obstacles to preserve the spirit of freedom. Our great leaders were the guides of “spirit of freedom”. Speeches are meant to be spoken – and heard” Freedom is birthright”; “ Tum Mujhe Khoon Do Mai Tujhe Azadi Dunga”; “ Jai Hind”; “ Mera Desh Mahan” are the keywords spoken by our great leaders that keeps alive the spirit of liberty and strengthen the spirit of freedom & democracy. A small compilation of speeches hopefully may keep alive our commitment to “spirit for freedom” in the years to come. Some excerpts of speeches that changed the political tide; which are unforgettable for their eloquence and those which marked a seminal moment in India’s history are:-
1. Freedom is my birthright – Bal Gangadhar Tilak on ‘ Swaraj’ – Nasik , May, 1917 –
“Freedom is my birthright. So long as it is awake within me. I am not old. No weapon can dry this sprit, no fire can burn it, no water can wet it, no wind can dry it.”
2. Non-Violence/Ahimsa – The Quit India speech by Mahatma Gandhi - 1942- “God has vouchsafed to me a priceless gift in the weapon of Ahimsa. I and my Ahimsa are on our trial today. If in the present crisis, when the earth is being scorched by the flames of Himsa and crying for deliverance, I failed to make use of the God given talent, God will not forgive me and I shall be judged unwrongly of the great gift. I must act now………. Ours is not a drive for power, but purely a non-violent fight for India’s independence.”
In this speech, Gandhiji spoke about his deep commitment to non-violence and his refusal to accept the British Rule.
“In my humble opinion, non-co-operation with evil is as much a duty as is co-operation with good.”
3. Free India will have blessings of whole world except Britishers-
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s-Independence Day speech ,
26thJanuary,1943 - I have no doubt that, with the single exception of Great Britain, a free India will be a blessing to the whole world and an advantage to every other nation desiring to have cultural and economic relations with her. The industrialization of a vast country like India, inhabited by 388 millions of human beings, will have colossal and far-reaching repercussions throughout the modern industrial world. We who are engaged in the fight for India’s liberation know exactly what we shall do in a free India. We are, therefore, preparing plans for national reconstruction for building up a new India. The task of reconstruction in free India is one which will interest not only the people of India but the entire civilized world as well.
4. Lahore Declaration Purna Swaraj (Lahore, December, 1929) – J.L.Nehru spoke of India’s struggle for independence as a conquest of power and put it in an international context of ending European dominance.
“And none of us can even forget that glorious band of men and women who, without tackling the consequences, have laid their young lives and spent their bright youth in suffering and torment in utter protest against a foreign domination.
Many of the names even are not known to us. They laboured and suffered in silence without any expectation of public applause, and by their heart’s blood they nursed the tender plant of India’s freedom.
Brick by brick has our national movement been built up, and often on the prostate bodies of her martyred sons has India advanced.”
5. Crisis of civilization ( Santineketan, April 1941) - Rabindranath Tagore – Kavi Guru made the last speech at Santinekatan before leaving for Calcutta on the eve of Bengali New Year’s Day at the killing and destruction he saw around him.
“The wheels of Fate will some day compel the English to give up their Indian empire. But what kind of India will they leave behind, what stark misery? ‘When the stream of their centuries ‘ administration runs dry at last, what a waste of mud and filth they will leave behind them! I had at one time believed that the springs of civilization would issue out of the heart of Europe. But today when I am about to quit the world that faith has gone bankrupt altogether.
As I look around I see the crumbling ruins of a proud civilization strewn like a vast heap of futility. And yet I shall not commit the grievances sin of losing faith in Man. I would rather look forward to the opening of a new chapter in his history after the cataclysm is over and the atmosphere rendered clean with the spirit of service and sacrifice. Perhaps that dawn will come from this horizon, from the East where the sun rises. A day will come when unvanquished Man will retrace his path of conquest, despite all barriers, to win back his lost human heritage.
6. Tryst with Destiny Speech- J.L. Nehru-
“At the stroke of midnight hour, as the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom” .
7. The Dawn of freedom – Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, New Delhi, August, 1947 -
Nehru had requested Dr. S. Radhakrishnan to speak after him on the night of 14th August, 1947 at the Indian Constituent Assembly.
(i) Our opportunities are great but let me warn you that when power outstrips ability, we will fall on evil days. We should develop competence and ability which would help us to utilize the opportunities which are now open for us - from tomorrow morning from midnight today- we cannot throw the blame on the Britisher. We have to assume the responsibility ourselves for what we do. A free India will be judged by the way in which it will serve the interests of the common man in the matter of food, clothing, shelter and the social services.
(ii) “Swarajya is the development of that kind of tolerant attitude which sees in brother man the face Divine. Intolerance has been the greatest enemy of our progress. Tolerance of one another’s view, thoughts and beliefs is the only remedy we can possibly adopt.”
8. Gandhiji’s Speech in Calcutta on 15th August, 1947 –
“The independence of Swaraj that had come was not the Swaraj for which he had fought. That Swaraj was yet to be achieved.”
9. Purna Swaraj” B.R. Ambedkar –
“Independence is no doubt a matter of joy. But let us not forget this independence has thrown on us great responsibilities. By independence, we have lost the excuse of blaming the British for anything going wrong. If hereafter things go wrong, we will have nobody to blame but ourselves.”
10. On death of Gandhiji - J.L. Nehru, January, 1948
“Friends and Comrades , the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere . --------------. The light has gone out, I said and yet I was wrong. For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light. The light that has illumined this country for these many many years will illumine this country for many more years, and a thousand years later, that light will still be seen in this country and the world will see to it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts. For that light represented something more than immediate present; it represented the living, the eternal truths, reminding us of the right path, drawing us from error, taking this ancient country to freedom.”
This year we are celebrating 150 glorious years of the Income-Tax Department, so this year is very special for all of us. The Income-Tax Department’s collection has increased substantially in last 3 years, but still has different types of challenges lie ahead to meet the governments’ commitments to the people. It reminds the inspiring speech of Dr. Manmohan Singh, our present Prime Minister, when we were in crisis – in December 1991(then Finance Minister) which may prove as a guiding source for us in future. Some excerpts are:-
'History is full of cases. It takes years to build confidence. It takes days to destroy it. So we are in a very fragile state of economic health of our country.
I do not want to create an illusion that we have found the solution to these problems. We have begun the arduous journey. The first steps have been taken- some success in achieving a semblance of stability. But a long journey lies ahead to control fiscal deficit, to make our public sector much more vibrant, much more competitive. Let me say that in terms of our objectives, our commitment to growth with equity, our commitment to adjustment with equity or what I described in my speech as adjustment to human phase. I think is firm. That is irrevocable.'
Compiled by O.P. Agarwal,
Jt. commissioner of Income Tax,
Range - 56, Kolkata