Narrow-mindedness Hampers Progress

Address of Jawaharlal Nehru at a Durbar of Namdhari Sikhs on the birth anniversary of Satguru Ram Singh, New Delhi, 27 February 1949.

Reactionary forces are trying to disrupt the life of the country. It is our duty to guard the interests of our citizens. If the independence of the country is to be preserved for all times to come, the people will have to be more liberal in their outlook and dispassionate in their decisions. No community can advance by keeping itself in isolation. The fate of every community is bound up with the destiny of the nation.

With the progress of the country we march ahead and it is the duty of all the people, to whatever sect or religion they belong, to play their part. Our narrow-mindedness will hamper our advance. The conditions which prevail in this country after the partition have no doubt given it a bad name, but the way the Government have faced those difficulties has again added to the respect and dignity of India on which the eyes not only of Asia but of the whole world are fixed.

Our young people, who have all the qualities to lead the country, are misguided today. They should not be so impatient. Our Constitution will be ready by the end of the year, and thereafter elections will be held and whichever party comes to power will run the Government. If we, who are in the Government today, are thrown out, we shall support the new Government wholeheartedly, to whatever ideology it belongs. We will do it, considering it to be our duty.

Old ideologies which have outlived their utility continue to mislead certain people. You know what happened after the partition of the country. It will be the historian’s job to keep these matters in mind when he sits to write. The Government today is faced with a great many problems. We have tried to solve them with the best will. Whether the steps taken were right or wrong is a different question. But our difficulties are certainly less today than they were a year before. Having in view the numerous problems which cropped up after the independence of the country, one could say that the efforts made in that direction had not proved futile.

The whole world today is faced with a severe crisis and with it life too has become insecure. India can take the initiative in putting an end to this crisis by preaching the gospel of truth and non-violence preached and practised by our great master, Mahatma Gandhi. People should keep it in their minds that before they go out to teach this gospel to the world they should try to mould their own life in a way which acts as an example for others. Violence will lead us nowhere. What is needed today is a realistic approach to all the problems social, political and economic, which have to be dealt with on a progressive plane for the betterment of the country as a whole.

The country has produced many great men. They have left a rich legacy and a precious heritage. Inspiration should be sought from their lives for rebuilding the nation on a sound footing. The life of Gandhiji has influenced us for 30 years. We had begun to feel a new strength and determination under his guidance. His teachings had a deep meaning for us. The policy of truth and non-violence which he preached and which had enabled us to win the battle of freedom is more important to us today than in his life-time. The country cannot be reconstructed by violence. Reconstruction is possible only through peaceful means.

There is talk of war in the world. By adhering to the principle of non-violence India can take the initiative in putting an end to the crisis which is threatening the world.

In the neighbouring countries a great many problems have cropped up, but our country has definitely made some progress in spite of these disturbed conditions. We have been able to lay the foundation of a prosperous India, which may not bear fruit in our life-time, but our children will certainly benefit. India is destined to be a great country and in that I have full confidence. Our idea of freedom is to give equal opportunities to all.

India, and the whole world, are passing through turmoil as a result of the last world war. The people of India should think hard and calmly on all the problems confronting the country and take an overall picture of the situation. They should consider all the issues in that context.


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