The Danger Within

From Hindi speech on Independence Day (August 15, 1960) 

A nation’s foremost duty is to strengthen and preserve its freedom. This is the one yardstick to measure every other activity. If we give importance to other things, like our group, our State, our language or our caste, and forget our country, we shall be destroyed. All these have their proper place, but if we place our State, our language, our group above our country, the nation will be destroyed.

I am reminding you of this, because the time has come to make sure that we do not forget the efforts and the sacrifices of the last half a century. Gandhiji created our nation and made it

strong and gave it the weapon of non-violence to win Swaraj. Swaraj came because there was unity and strength in the nation. For the future, if we act rightly and in union we need not be afraid. The danger is not from outside but the danger lies in our own weaknesses, our internecine quarrels and trivialities.

Hundreds of years ago our country was weakened by such quarrels and people came from abroad and conquered it. These symptoms seem to be reappearing in some places. They forget their country and its unity, and quarrel over the question of language. The time has come when every Indian has to do some heart-searching.

What will the historians of the future say ? They will record that India produced a great leader, Gandhiji, and he taught the people to work together. He taught them to break down the walls which separated the people from one another. He taught them to uplift the Harijans because it was his desire that everyone irrespective of his caste, creed or religion should enjoy equal rights and be free. The people of India rose as one man from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari, threw off some of the burdens from their backs and, under the leadership of the great Gandhi, moved forward and won independence. After centuries, India’s star rose in the horizon. Its voice was heard in the councils of the world, because it was the real voice of India. And then these very people of India, who had shown courage and determination, fell into a dream and into carelessness and quarreled among themselves. Sometimes, they fought in the name of religion, sometimes in the name of caste or language or State. 

You have seen that there has been a painful and disturbing tragedy in Assam. This has brought sorrow and difficulties to the States of Assam and Bengal. Nearer, in the Punjab strange happenings have been taking place in the name of language. I cannot understand the controversies raging round Hindi and Punjabi and Bengali and Assamese.

We should not lose ourselves in wrong directions. We cannot allow our country to fall. Let not this priceless treasure of our freedom slip through our hands because of our weakness. This is not a matter for the few Government officers, Ministers or the Prime Minister. This has to be ensured by the millions of people of India.

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