The full text of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's speech on 15 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
At the dawn of history
India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with
her striving and the grandeur of her success 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 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. The 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 may fulfil 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 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
To the people of
India, whose representatives we are, we make an 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.
The appointed day has
come-the day appointed by destiny-and India stands forth again, after long
slumber and struggle, awake, vital, free and independent. The past clings on to
us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we
have so often taken. Yet the turning-point is past, and history begins anew for
us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about.
It is a fateful moment
for us in India, for all Asia and for the world. A new star rises, the star of
freedom in the East, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished
materializes. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed!
We rejoice in that
freedom, even though clouds surround us, and many of our people are
sorrowstricken and difficult problems encompass us. But freedom brings
responsibilities and burdens and we have to face them in the spirit of a free
and disciplined people.
On this day our first
thoughts go to the architect of this freedom, the Father of our Nation
[Gandhi], who, embodying the old spirit of India, held aloft the torch of
freedom and lighted up the darkness that surrounded us. We have often been
unworthy followers of his and have strayed from his message, but not only we
but succeeding generations will remember this message and bear the imprint in
their hearts of this great son of India, magnificent in his faith and strength
and courage and humility. We shall never allow that torch of freedom to be
blown out, however high the wind or stormy the tempest.
Our next thoughts must
be of the unknown volunteers and soldiers of freedom who, without praise or
reward, have served India even unto death.
We think also of our
brothers and sisters who have been cut off from us by political boundaries and
who unhappily cannot share at present in the freedom
that has come. They
are of us and will remain of us whatever may happen, and we shall be sharers in
their good [or] ill fortune alike.
The future beckons to
us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavour? To bring freedom and
opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India; to fight
and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic
and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political
institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and
We have hard work
ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full,
till we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be. We are
citizens of a great country on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live
up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are
equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We
cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great
whose people are narrow in thought or in action.
To the nations and
peoples of the world we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with
them in furthering peace, freedom and democracy.
And to India, our
much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our
reverent homage and we bind ourselves afresh to her service.