The Spirit of Victory

Jawaharlal Nehru's address to the All-India Conference of Engineers, New Delhi, 23 February 1949. 

On the development of electric power depends the production of more national wealth. The engineers should not lose sight of the vast sociological changes taking place in India and the world and should utilize their talent in developing the power projects. We must do something now and not wait for the future alone for achievement.

The greatest need is of getting speedy results from the development of various power projects so that the national wealth can be increased and the standard of living of the masses raised. According to the short-term and long-term aspects of the projects the power experts should work for the development plans to achieve quick results.

In the development of electric power, as in every other phase of national activity, the engineers must keep in touch continuously with the evolving and progressive life of the community. Inevitably you have to think much more of the vast number of people who live in villages and small towns of India and not so much of the more sophisticated people living in larger cities.

As far as possible, there should be no gap or hiatus between what you produce in the shape of power and its utilization. Normally speaking, therefore, it is desirable to proceed stage by stage so that the power you produce is immediately translated into some kind of activity and not to have a mountain of power which is not utilized, for which you are not prepared or you may be prepared but the community is not prepared. The community is to be prepared, again, not mechanically only but mentally.

We talk vaguely about thirty five crores of India’s inhabitants. It is a terrific, colossal and overwhelming number, but those very people can be a source of enormous strength if all their minds and all their activities are turned towards a certain end. We have in India a multitude of problems. We have tackled some and plenty remain, and no doubt will remain. However many knots we might unravel, more knots will come. That is the way things happen in a changing environment. We ourselves want to change the environment and achieve results.

It is a battle against nature—a peaceful war, sometimes against considerable odds. But it is a battle for the benefit of the people of our country. It is a battle which we are going to win and which we are winning. The only question is how rapidly we win it. The quicker we do it the better for us. I am not interested in excuses for delay. I am interested only in a thing done. I want victory at whatever cost, and I want the spirit of victory.

Whether it is electricity or anything else, you must approach the problem with that spirit. Your technical knowledge is essential obviously because your spirit without knowledge cannot take you far, but develop the spirit and enthusiasm for a job well done.

The test of any nation or any group ultimately is how far it has got that creative spirit in it. If you look through history, you will find stages when the creative spirit in a nation is strong. You see it bubbling all over the place, in literature, in architecture and so on. Then you see the same people at a different period with the creative activity apparently coming to an end. The same people are not the same, they become bowed down, rather old, with less of the vitality and strength of youth, and gradually they decline and even become decadent.

Now we in India are living in a creative phase of our history. There is a magnificent opportunity for every individual in India to do his bit. I should like you not only yourselves to be infused with enthusiasm for this creative task, but, what is equally important, to have the capacity to enthuse others.

India today is a land of opportunity for the man who can go ahead. It may be that some able people have difficulties in finding suitable work because things have to be adjusted. But, generally speaking, India is a land of opportunity and it is going to remain a land of opportunity for every worthwhile person who can do good work. It is with this spirit that you should approach your problem, and if we all do so, we shall make such progress in this country which may well astound the world.

The activity of power engineers is fortunately a peaceful activity and should not injure anybody. Nevertheless, you should look upon it with the stress of a war emergency.


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