Click here to skip to content

Indian Independence: Partition Source 7

Pandit Nehru's broadcast, 3 June 1947, on the partition of India.

[L/P&J/10/81]

Friends and comrades, nearly nine months ago, soon after my assumption of office, I spoke to you from this place. I told you then that we were on the march and the goal had still to be reached. There were many difficulties and obstacles on the way, and our journey's end might not be near, for that end was not the assumption of office in the Government of India, but the achievement of the full independence of India and the establishment of a cooperative Commonwealth in which all will be equal sharers in opportunity and in all things that give meaning and value to life.

Nine months have passed, months of trial and difficulty, of anxiety and sometimes even of heartbreak. Yet, looking back at this period with its suffering and sorrow for our people there is much on the credit side also, for India has advanced nationally and internationally, and is respected today in the councils of the world.

In the domestic sphere something substantial has been achieved though the burden on the common man still continues to be terribly heavy and millions lack food and clothes and other necessaries of life. Many vast schemes of development are nearly ready, and yet it is true that most of our dreams about the brave things we were going to accomplish have still to be realised. You know well the difficulties which the country has had to face - economic, political and communal.

These months have been full of tragedy for millions and the burden on those who have the government of the country in their hands has been great indeed - My mind is heavy with the thought of the sufferings of our people in the areas of disturbance, the thousands who are dead and those, especially our womenfolk, who have suffered agony worse than death. To their families and to innumerable people who have been uprooted from their homes and rendered destitute, I offer my deep sympathy and assurance that we shall do all in our power to bring relief. We must see to it that such tragedies do not happen again. At no time have we lost faith in the great destiny of India which takes shape even though with struggle and suffering. My great regret has been that during this period owing to excess of work I have been unable to visit the numerous towns and villages of India as I used to do to meet my people and to learn their troubles at first hand.

Today, I am speaking to you on another historic occasion when a vital change affecting the future of India is proposed. You have just heard an announcement on behalf of the British Government. This announcement lays down a procedure for self-determination in certain areas of India. It envisages on the one hand the possibility of these areas seceding from India; on the other it promises a big advance towards complete independence. Such a big change must have the full concurrence of the people before effect can be given to it, for it must always be remembered that the future of India can only be decided by the people of India and not by any outside authority, however friendly.

These proposals will be placed soon before representative assemblies of the people for consideration. But meanwhile the sands of time run out and decisions cannot await the normal course of events. While we must necessarily abide by what the people finally decide we have to come to certain decisions ourselves and recommend them to the people of acceptance. We have, therefore, decided to accept these proposals and to recommend to our larger committees that they do likewise.

It is with no joy in my heart that I commend these proposals to you, though I have no doubt in my mind that this is the right course. For generations we have dreamt and struggled for a free and independent united India. The proposals to allow certain parts to secede, if they so will, is painful for any of us to contemplate. Nevertheless, I am convinced that our present decision is the right one even from the larger viewpoint.

The united India that we have laboured for was not one of compulsion and coercion, but a free and willing association of a free people. It may be that in this way we shall reach that united India sooner than otherwise and that she will have a stronger and more secure foundation. We are little men serving great causes, but because the cause is great, something of that greatness falls upon us also. Mighty forces are at work in the world today and in India, and I have no doubt that we are ushering in a period of greatness for India. The India is of geography, of history and traditions, the India of our minds and hearts cannot change. On this historic occasion each one of us must pray that he might be guided aright in the service of the motherland and of humanity at large.

We stand on a watershed dividing the past from the future. Let us bury that past in so far as it is dead and forget all bitterness and recrimination. Let there be moderation in speech and writing. Let there be strength and perseverence in adhering to the cause and the ideals we have at heart. Let us face the future not with easy optimism or with any complacency or weakness, but with confidence and a firm faith in India. There has been violence - shameful, degrading and revolting violence - in various parts of the country. This must end. We are determined to end it. We must make it clear that political ends are not to be achieved by methods of violence now or in the future.

On this the eve of great changes in India we have to make a fresh start with clear vision and a firm mind, with steadfastness and tolerance and a stout heart. We should not wish ill to anyone, but think always of every Indian as our brother and comrade. The good of the 400,000,000 of India must be our supreme objective. We shall seek to build anew our relations with England on a friendly and cooperative basis, forgetting the past which has lain so heavily upon us. I should like to express on this occasion my deep appreciation of the labours of the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, ever since his arrival here at a critical juncture in our history. Inevitably on every occasion of our great leader, Mahatma Gandhi, who has led us unfalteringly for over a generation through darkness and sorrow, to the threshold of our freedom, to him we once more pay our homage. His blessing and wise counsel will happily be with us in the momentous years to come as always. With firm faith in our future I appeal to you to cooperate in the great task ahead and to march together to the haven of freedom for all in India.

Jai Hind.