Shun the Narrow Outlook

Jawaharlal Nehru's address to Bihar Political Conference, Muzaffarpur, 2 April 1949. 

The people of India should realize their responsibilities in the new set up of independent India and never indulge in narrow outlook. The R.S.S., particularly took up from narrow communalism its slogans and principles which always had been responsible for the downfall of India. The people and particularly youth should never be carried away by slogans.

A lot of controversy arose with regard to the integration of certain States and the estrangement of feelings between Bihar and her sister province. It is an absolutely useless controversy in as much as it matters very little whether a particular part of a province remains in one province or goes to another. After all, these provinces are nothing but administrative units all under the Indian Union. I come from U.P. and I shall not be the least sorry if two or three districts of U.P. are ceded to any other province, provided they all acquire a sense of Indian unity.

So far as the principle of communism is concerned I like these principles to a great extent. But the Indian Communist Party has no relation with communism and they do not care for the fundamentals of the communist philosophy. This Party in fact is acting against communism and prefers to confine its activities to terroristic methods. The aim of this Party is to see that India never becomes great or strong. This might be due more or less to outside influence.

What they have done in Hyderabad and other places showed that they have no moral scruples so far as the means are concerned for achieving their ends. Even during the railway strike they were so much bent upon creating trouble that when the Railwaymen's Federation decided not to go on strike they conspired to tamper with the railway lines so that movement of foodgrains would be affected in such a way that the situation they expected would lead to food shortage and disaffection against the Government, by which they would gain ground for their own party. They are preaching a dangerous cult, the manifestation of which could be seen in the Dum Dum raids in which men were roasted alive in the furnace of the factory. Where is all this leading to?

Their one aim is to weaken the State and not to serve the interests of the masses. If they have the interests of the people and the country at heart, they would not have pursued such a destructive policy. They are conscious of their limitations and their strength and know that they will not be able to replace the Government. That is why they are not interested in the country’s progress and want to create chaos and confusion.

So far as I am concerned, I believe that India will have to become ultimately a socialist State. It is only a question of time and the methods through which the end is to be attained. The need of the hour is to strengthen the State and better the lot of the people so as to increase the wealth of the country. Wealth does not mean gold or silver. If there is no wealth what will people share? In countries like America, even ordinary workers earn such a decent amount as to be regarded here as a fairly welloff, simply because they produce more. Those who are hampering production are not only harming the cause of labourers but are also weakening the country and retarding its progress. Basawan Singh, a prominent Socialist leader of Bihar is fasting at Dalmianagar in protest against the retrenchment of a large number of workers following the recent long-drawn strike .

Although I am not fully posted with the facts of the case, I cannot approve of such a fast. I have been told that one of the plants at Dalmianagar (cardboard plant of Rohtas Industries) had been set on fire. [1] I was pained when I heard of it. Those who had set fire to the plant have not harmed the proprietor though that might have been the motive, but the country's production had been affected.

The grievances of labour, if any, should be settled by arbitration and not through fasts. What would happen if a thousand labourers started fasting to enforce the demands of labour in different parts of the country? Those who are resorting to such fasts are not doing good to the country. I am sorry to know that a man of Mr. Basawan Singh’s standing is fasting for the last three and a half weeks. I hope he will give up his fast.

The virus of communalism has been checked, but it has not died. It still smoulders and even some Congressmen are not free from it. The Rashtriya Swayam Sangh is preaching the cult of revivalism of Hindu culture and civilization in a way that will bring the downfall of the country if our countrymen take to their way of thinking. As a student of history, I would say that whenever India attempted to shut itself off from new ideas and developed a narrow outlook, it had lost its prestige and dignity. If India is to progress it cannot allow communalism and provincialism to grow. I shall not allow it. 

The youth of the country should not to be lured away by the slogans of R.S.S. and Communists. Those who are at the helm of affairs now are old and they will not continue for ever. The younger generation will have to shoulder the responsibilities of administration of the country sooner or later and it is for them to make or mar the future of the country. They should, therefore, realize their responsibilities and behave as responsible citizens of a free democratic country.

In spite of the difficulties that beset the country in the shape of communal troubles, the division of the country, Kashmir and Hyderabad troubles, considerable progress has been made with the solution of these problems of the country. I have every hope that the country will make rapid strides and march ahead, but no democratic country can progress without the fullest cooperation of the masses. People must cooperate with the Government in fullest measure for their own benefit and for the benefit of the country. I wish to move about among the people in every part of the country, but since I have become the Prime Minister, I have become a virtual prisoner in Delhi.

I can see considerable lack of discipline in this gathering and there was a stampede in the women’s enclosure. No country will progress if its people lack this quality of discipline. I want that they should develop this quality to such an extent that even an earthquake shall not be able to make them lose their balance. The citizens of India whether they are men or women have to be strong. Unless women marched shoulder to shoulder with their menfolk the country cannot progress. I want the women of Bihar to march ahead and not remain satisfied with their position as helpless human beings. 

The attainments of the wives of candidates for foreign service, are also to be taken into consideration at the time of selection. It is necessary that their wives should have such attainments that they can mix freely with the women of the countries where they are sent.

I do not know what may be the outcome of the London Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, which I will attend later this month. But it is definite that we shall stand by the Objectives of the Resolution passed by the Constituent Assembly. We are not going to compromise our independent status with anything else in any shape or form.


[1] A fire broke out in the paper mill of the Rohtas Industries at Dalmianagar on 28 January 1949.

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