Time for Constructive Work

Jawaharlal Nehru's address to a gathering at Konarak, Orissa, 10 March 1949.

The people of Orissa should strive hard to increase the productive wealth of the province and thereby contribute to India’s prosperity and strength. A country’s wealth is not judged by the gold and silver it has, but by its natural resources and by the way they are developed by its people to provide the necessities of life. India has all the necessities of life and the natural resources; and talent is inherent in its people.

Till now, due to foreign domination, the road has not been open to us to use our skills or to utilize the resources. After the achievement of India’s independence, we have set out towards this objective of utilizing the country’s resources. We have, however, to face difficult problems, including the problem of refugees who have to be rehabilitated. We can, however, withstand these difficult situations, and now the time has come for us to concentrate on constructive work and accelerate the pace of progress.

One thing I find among the masses is the practice of sending memorials to Government for all kinds of help. Government derives its revenue from the public for spending it for the benefit of the masses. In this order of things, people should realize that by increasing their own strength by means of production, the strength of Government would also be increased. That was the conception of Mahatma Gandhi’s democratic government.

Orissa had a glorious past as this memorial before us [1] clearly demonstrates. Unless it was rich and prosperous, such a temple would not have been built. I slipped out of the busy work at Delhi and came here to have some rest. When I came to Orissa last year, I said I would visit the province again for about a week to take rest, and I have now come for that purpose.

I and Lady Mountbatten have been invited by Dr. Katju, Mr. Asaf Ali and Mr. Mahtab to visit the temple. In order to revive the glorious past we have to strive hard. For instance, work on the Mahanadi project [2] is going on and I am confident that the face of the province will be changed within four or five years, as a result of the project and other constructive work, from one of poverty to that of prosperity. The weakness or strength of any part of the country will vitally affect the country as a whole and, if we serve India, we serve the province also.

I am in close contact with the Premier, Mr. Mahtab, and Mr. Asaf Ali. I am confident that the progress of constructive work which is urgently necessary for building up national wealth is safe in the hands of Mr. Mahtab. He has proved by his merit, sacrifice and work for the nation in the past that he is competent to shoulder the responsibility.

I am pained to hear about some disturbances in the newly integrated Mayurbhanj State. All of them, Adivasis as well as non-Adivasis, are brothers. But the Adivasis, because of their backwardness, have become a prey to the instigations of interested parties and individuals. As a result they have taken to the path of violence and hatred. The result is that they have attacked the police who had to open fire resulting in the death of a few persons. But I will say that violence and hatred would lead them nowhere. They (Adivasis and non-Adivasis) should learn to live together with love and affection for each other. They should learn that they can never profit by violence.

Some Adivasis are reported to be attempting to revive some of the old customs which are extinct. If they do so they will invite trouble. But on the contrary, if they live peacefully, Government will afford all facilities for their uplift.


[1] The Konarak temple of the 13th century, dedicated to Surya, the Sun God, is situated on the sea beach, north of Puri.

[2] The Mahanadi Project comprises three units, the Hirakud Dam Project, the Tikarpura Dam Project and the Naraj Dam Project. Each is independent with its own canal system and hydro-electric power installations. It was decided to make a start with building the Hirakud Dam.

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