Danger of Disunity

Speech of Jawaharlal Nehru at a public meeting at Puri, Orissa, 12 March 1949.

The British had not conquered this country after any big fight but they made the fullest use of the prevailing differences among Indians. India should sink all her differences now and stand solidly. The nation should be revitalized, which is necessary not only to maintain political independence but also to achieve the economic independence of a country.

The Communists are trying to sabotage the efforts of the Government in all directions. They have at heart neither the good of the people in general, nor the good of the labourers, whom they exploit to gain their own ends, which is not national or political, but something else, some ideal of some other country.

The only purpose the Communists have before them is to organize a strike in the Railways and to create trouble in the country. Dealing with that situation the only thing before the Government is not how to put it down, but how to maintain the essential railway service, which is vitally necessary in order to feed the people in Kathiawar and Gujarat, who are experiencing food shortage.

Stoppage of the railway service for one day would have resulted in the death of a lakh of people due to starvation. What could a Government have done in such circumstances other than what we did? In order to perform the duties and responsibilities of my office so long as the people want me to remain there, I would not spare any pains to protect the country from such dangers. We cannot allow anybody to endanger the peace and tranquillity of the country which is very essential at this juncture of India’s newly gained freedom.

There are two sets of people in the country, one interested in construction and the other in destruction. The people should work on the side of construction and help production. Otherwise the whole income would be spent in procuring food from abroad. India must be made self-sufficient in food at least within a couple of years.

The situation in Asia, particularly the state of affairs in China, Indonesia, Siam, Malaya, Burma, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Palestine, make clear that India alone can lead them. The people of all these countries and the people of the whole world are now looking up to India to give a lead and I have no doubt in my mind that India will rise to the occasion and give the lead.

India has obtained Swaraj, but that is political Swaraj. The Swaraj which Mahatma Gandhi had contemplated is yet to come. When Gandhiji started his movement he had two objects in view-political independence and economic independence. The country had achieved one during his life-time and it is for the people now to see that the second one is fulfilled. For this the assistance of one and all is necessary and this cannot be done by a few men sitting at Delhi, although they also are doing their best towards that end.

The Government is being criticized for not nationalizing the industries. This is the decided policy of the Congress apd must be done. But it is not the Congress policy to do it forcibly without compensating the owners. The question then is, where to get the requisite funds? The funds must come from the people. Are the people rich enough to pay for it? We have to think twice before deciding our policy.

We have decided to start nationalization of the essential industries in the first instance with the little surplus or available money. We have decided at first to start big projects like Hirakud, etc., which in the long run will be paying concerns and will enrich the country as a whole. This is the reason why, instead of leaving these projects to private enterprise, the Government have taken them up as their own.

The Congress is committed to the abolition of the zamindari system and this will be done. If the zamindaris are abolished today, zamindars have to be compensated. This involves a huge expenditure. The question before us is whether such huge expenditure should be undertaken for acquiring zamindaris or to utilize that money on industrial projects.

India is a secular State, where people of all nationalities and religions have the same right, whereas Pakistan is an Islamic state. The R.S.S. wants to revive Hindu culture and civilization by wiping out the Muslims. I doubt whether it is in keeping with Hindu culture and civilization to wipe out the people of other religions or to allow the people following other religions to do so without any interference or rather with State protection. I cannot dream of a bigoted culture. Communal feeling has resulted in the division of India into Pakistan and Hindustan and it cannot be allowed to continue any further. India must and has already become a secular State. Even the Muslims who have gone to Pakistan are returning back. 

I deprecate the tendency on the part of the provinces to approach the Centre for financial aid. The Central Government is trying to give fullest possible assistance to Orissa in pursuance of the policy of the Centre to see all the provinces stand well-fed, on the path of progress.

The provincial feelings that prevail in the country, can easily be handled in a calmer atmosphere. The present atmosphere is not suitable to decide such a question. India has been an independent country for a year and her solidarity has to be built up. Nothing which will endanger the unity of India can be allowed to grow. India is not afraid of any outside danger, but she must safeguard against any danger from within.

The adivasi trouble in Mayurbhanj is unfortunate.* It matters little whether the state remained in one province or in the other. The adivasis have been misled by interested people. After due consideration, Mayurbhanj has been finally merged with Orissa, and no amount of agitation, fomented by interested parties, can change that decision. The adivasi problem will be solved soon by the Provincial Government.


*Mayurbhanj was merged with Orissa on 2 January 1949, following an agreement signed by the Maharaja on 17 October 1948, against the adivasi demand of merger with Bihar. Protest demonstrations by the tribais turned violent and led the police to open fire on 6 February at Rairangpura in Mayurbhanj, killing seven and injuring many more.

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