The August 15, 1947 speeches remain beacons to desired future

Alok Prasanna Kumar
August 15, 2021

nehru.jpg

Jawaharlal Nehru made his famous “Tryst with Destiny” speech late in the night on August 14, 1947. It was delivered during one of the most momentous sessions of the Constituent Assembly, one that is well-known and well-recorded. Apart from Nehru’s speech itself, the presentation of the national flag, the singing of the national anthem, the taking of the pledge by all the members of the Assembly at the stroke of midnight are all well-known. Many evocative accounts of that moving day, by members and observers, are present and easily accessible.

But the session did not end there. The Constituent Assembly only adjourned to the morning of August 15, 1947. This day, when Nehru flew the Indian flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort, saw speeches by Governor-General Louis Mountbatten and Rajendra Prasad, in his capacity as the president of the Constituent Assembly. The speeches are revealing about the immediate circumstances in which India became independent -- what was said being as important as what was left unsaid.

The day began with the reading out of congratulatory messages received from nations far and wide. Mountbatten was then invited to speak.

The bulk of Mountbatten’s speech covered the events leading up to independence, specifically his role in the whole process. No doubt he played a key role in the exercise, but one notices not only a certain level of self-congratulation, but also self-exculpation. Self-congratulation for having advanced the date of independence from July 1948 to August 1947, when everyone thought that even June 1948 was too early. Self-exculpation for the failings that resulted from such a hasty withdrawal.

Mountbatten gave himself credit for the idea behind implementing Partition (“the leaders agreed to discuss a paper which I had laid before them on the administrative consequences of Partition”) while also subtly telling us who to blame for things that went horribly wrong (“To the ministers and officials who have laboured day and night to produce this astonishing result, the greatest credit is due”).

Prasad’s speech was almost a riposte to Mountbatten’s, focused as it was on the future, and has no mention of the speaker himself. Prasad, in this vein, outlined an almost utopian vision for what he hoped India would become.

He said: “Let us resolve to create conditions in this country when every individual will be free and provided with the wherewithal to develop and rise to his fullest stature, when poverty and squalor and ignorance and ill-health will have vanished, when the distinction between high and low, between rich and poor, will have disappeared, when religion will not only be professed and preached and practised freely but will have become a cementing force for binding man to man and not serve as a disturbing and disrupting force dividing and separating, when untouchability will have been forgotten like an unpleasant night dream, when exploitation of man by man will have ceased…”

While articulating this utopian idea, Prasad also mentioned the important task at hand -- the making of the Constitution. Even while the draft Constitution was still being framed, Prasad articulated the hope that it “will enable the people’s will to be expressed and enforced, and that will not only secure liberty to the individual but also reconcile and make that liberty subservient to the common good.”

Mountbatten’s and Prasad’s speeches were a neat contrast of old and new, of personal and societal, of individual and institutional. Where Mountbatten looked to the past, his own role and the parts played by specific individuals in getting India to independence, Prasad looked to the future -- of what independence would bring, of what the society and nation would look like, and what individuals could hope to achieve in the new country.

Both viewpoints are, however, valid. It is good to remember that India’s independence came about in hasty, confused and, eventually, bloody circumstances that continue to haunt us to this day. Yet, it was also infused with hope for a better future -- one that we have made progress towards but are a long way from achieving.

 

(The author is Co-founder, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, uses his legal training to make the case that Harry Potter is science fiction and Star Wars is fantasy)

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
September 5,2021

A 12-year old boy in Kozhikode in Kerala died of Nipah virus infection, state health minister Veena George said on Sunday. 

The Centre has rushed the NCDC team to the southern state to provide technical support.

The samples of the boy, which were sent to the Pune National Institute of Virology, confirmed the presence of Nipah virus.

The team will provide technical support to the state, the ministry said.

Some immediate public health measures have been advised by the Centre which include active case search in the family, families, village and areas with similar topography especially in Malappuram.

The measures also include active contact tracing for any contacts in the past 12 days, strict quarantine of the contacts and isolation of any suspects and collection and transportation of samples for lab testing, the ministry said.

Nipal virus is spread by saliva of the fruit bats.

In 2018 also, there was a Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of Kerala.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
September 6,2021

Bengaluru, Sept 6: Schools reopened for students of classes 6 to 8 in Karnataka on Monday, by following strict COVID-19 protocols and standard operating procedures (SOP). 

As per government directions, schools have been reopened in taluks where COVID-19 positivity rate is below 2 per cent. 

Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh said that the government decided to reopen schools after approval from the state's technical advisory committee on COVID-19. 

"The department had an intention of reopening schools for some time now and teachers were also ready for it, but keeping in mind the health of the students along with education and concerns of the parents, we discussed with the technical advisory committee and after taking the opinion of expert paediatricians, we are reopening schools for classes 6,7 and 8," he told reporters. 

The Minister said, many parents and students had urged him during his recent visits to several parts of the state to reopen schools. He said the entire government machinery and district administrations have been working together with the department for the safe conduct of classes. 

It is mandatory for students to submit a consent letter from their parents to attend offline classes and these classes are not compulsory, as there is a provision of online classes also. 

The government has said that offline classes for students of class 6-8 will be held on alternate days, each with 50 per cent attendance, it will be five days a week, and the remaining two days (weekend) will be used for sanitizing and other COVID control measures. In response to a question, the Minister said, looking at how offline classes will go on, the government after consulting the technical advisory committee will take a decision on reopening schools for class 1 to 5, but did not specify any timeline. 

The government had already allowed the reopening of schools for students from classes 9 to 12 since August 23. 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
September 2,2021

Mangaluru, Sept 2: A group allegedly assaulted and later issued threats to two youths for their friendship with a woman belonging to different faith near Puttur bus stand in Dakshina Kannada district on Wednesday.

The men who were assaulted were identified as Hanumantharaya and Chowdaiah from Manvi taluk in Raichur. According to the complainant Hanumantharaya, he had known Naseema (name changed) from Puttur on social media. Later, the duo was in contact with each other over the phone. 

A week ago, Naseema had contacted Hanumantharaya and had asked him to come down to Puttur. Accordingly, Hanumanthraya along with his friend Chowdaiah had left his native village on August 31 and reached Puttur on Wednesday.

On reaching Puttur, Naseema along with her friend female friend had met the duo at the Puttur bus stand. When they were talking in the bus stand, four to five youth surrounded them and assaulted the victims for allegedly speaking to a girl from Muslim community.

In his complaint, Hanumantharaya said the youth aged between 25 to 28 years were conversing in Beary language.

The Puttur police have booked cases under various sections of the IPC against four to five unidentified people.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.