Nehru's Presidential Address at the Lahore Congress, 1929


For four and forty years, this National Congress has laboured for the freedom of India. During this period, it has somewhat slowly, but surely, awakened national consciousness from its long stupor and built up the national movement. If, today we are gathered here at a crisis of our destiny, conscious of our strength as well as of our weakness, and looking with hope and apprehension to the future, it is well that we give first thought to those who have gone before us and who spent out their lives with little hope of reward, so that those that followed them may have the joy of achievement. 

Many of the giants of old are not with us and we of a later day, standing on an eminence of their creation, may often decry their efforts. That is the way of the world. But none of you can forget them or the great work they did in laying the foundations of a free India. And none of us can ever forget that glorious band of men and women who, without reckoning the consequences, have laid down their young lives or spent their bright youth in suffering and torment in utter protest against a foreign domination. 

Many of their names even are not known to us. They laboured and suffered in silence without any expectation of public applause, and by their heart’s blood they nursed the tender plant of India’s freedom. While many of us temporised and compromised, they stood up and proclaimed a people’s right to freedom and declared to the world that India, even in her degradation, had the spark of life in her, because she refused to submit to tyranny and serfdom. Brick by brick has our national movement been built up, and often on the prostrate bodies of her martyred sons has India advanced. The giants of old may not be with us, but the courage of old is with us still and India can yet produce martyrs like Jatindradas and Wijaya.

This is the glorious heritage that we have inherited and you wish to put me in charge of it ! I know well that I occupy this honoured place by chance more than by your deliberate design. Your desire was to choose another—one who towers above all others in this present day world of ours —and there could have been no wiser choice. But fate and he conspired together and thrust me against your will and mine into this terrible seat of responsibility. Should I express my gratitude to you for having placed me in this dilemma? But I am grateful indeed for your confidence in one who strangely lacks it himself.

Changing World

You will discuss many vital national problems that face us today and your decision may change the course of Indian history. But you are not the only people that are faced with the problem. The whole world today is one vast question-mark and every country and every people is in the melting pot. The age of faith, with the comfort and stability it brings, is passed and there is question about everything, however permanent or sacred it might have appeared to our forefathers. Everywhere there is doubt and restlessness and the foundations of the State and Society are in process of transformation. Old established ideas of liberty, justice, property and even the family are being attacked and the outcome hangs in the balance. We appear to be in a dissolving period of history when the world is in labour and out of her travail will give birth to a new order.

India's Part

No one can say what the future will bring, but we may assert with some confidence that Asia and even India will play a determining part in future world policy. The brief day of European domination is already approaching its end. Europe has ceased to be the centre of activity and interest. The future lies with America and Asia. Owing to false and incomplete history many of us have been led to think that Europe has always dominated over the rest of the world, and Asia has always let the legions of the West thunder past and had plunged in thought again. We have forgotten that for millennia the legions of Asia overran Europe and modem Europe itself largely consists of the descendants of these invaders from Asia. We have forgotten that it was India that finally broke the military power of Alexander. Thought has undoubtedly been the glory of Asia and specially of India, but in the field of action the record of Asia has been equally great. But none of us desires that the legions of Asia or Europe should overrun the continents again. We have all had enough of them.

India today is a part of a world movement. Not only China, Turkey, Persia and Egypt but also Russia and the countries of the West are taking part in this movement, and India cannot isolate herself from it. We have our own problems—difficult and intricate and we cannot run away from them and take shelter in the wider problems that affect the world. But if we ignore the world, we do so at our peril. Civilisation today, such as it is, is not the creation or monopoly of one people or nation. It is a composite fabric to which all countries have contributed and then have adapted to suit their particular needs. And if India has a message to give to the world as I hope she has, she has also to receive and learn much from the messages of other peoples.

Social Adjustment

When everything is changing it is well to remember the long course of Indian history. Few things in history are more amazing than the wonderful stability of the social structure in India which withstood the impact of numerous alien influences and thousands of years of change and conflict. It withstood them because it always sought to absorb them and tolerate them. Its aim was not to exterminate, but to establish an equilibrium between different cultures. Aryans and non-Aryans settled down together recognising each other’s right to their culture, and outsiders who came, like the Parsis, found a welcome and a place in the social order. With the coming of the Moslems, the equilibrium was disturbed, but India sought to restore it, and largely succeeded. Unhappily for us before we could adjust our difference, the political structure broke down, the British came and we fell.

Great as was the success of India in evolving a stable society she failed and in a vital particular, and because she failed in this, she fell and remains fallen. No solution was found for the problem of equality. India deliberately ignored this and built up her social structure on inequality and we have the tragic consequences of this policy in the millions of our people who till yesterday were suppressed and had little opportunity for growth.

Religious Liberty

And yet when Europe fought her wars of religion and Christians massacred each other in the name of their Saviour, India was tolerant, although alas! there is little of this toleration today. Having attained some measure of liberty, Europe sought after political liberty, and political and legal equality. Having attained these also, she finds that they mean very little without economic liberty and equality. And so today politics have ceased to have much meaning and the most vital question is that of social and economic equality.

India also will have to find a solution to this problem and until she does so, her political and social structure cannot have stability. That solution need not necessarily follow the example of any other country. It must, if it has to endure, be based on the genius of her people and be an outcome of her thought and culture. And when it is found, the unhappy differences between various communities, which trouble us today and keep back our freedom, will automatically disappear.

Indeed, the real differences have already largely gone, but fear of each other and distrust and suspicion remain and sow seeds of discord. The problem is how to remove fear and suspicion and, being intangible, they are hard to get at. An earnest attempt was made to do so last year by the All-Parties’ Committee and much progress was made towards the goal. But we must admit with sorrow that success has not wholly crowned its efforts. Many of our Muslim and Sikh friends have strenuously opposed the solutions suggested and passions have been roused over mathematical figures and percentages. Logic and cold reason are poor weapons to fight fear and distrust. Only faith and generosity can overcome them. I can only hope that the leaders of various communities will have this faith and generosity in ample measure. What shall we gain for ourselves or for our community, if all of us are slaves in a slave country? And what can we lose if once we remove the shackles from India and can breathe the air of freedom again? Do we want outsiders who are not of us and who have kept us in bondage, to be the protectors of our little rights and privileges, when they deny us the very right to freedom? No majority can crush a determined minority, and no minority can be sufficiently protected by a little addition to its seats in a legislature. Let us remember that in the world today, almost everywhere a very small minority holds wealth and power and dominates over the great majority.

Plea for Generosity

I have no love for bigotry and dogmatism in religion and I am glad that they are weakening. Nor do I love communalism in any shape or form. I find it difficult to appreciate why political or economic rights should depend on the membership of a religious group or community. I can fully understand the right to freedom in religion and the right to one’s culture, and in India specially, which has always acknowledged and granted these rights, it should be no difficult matter to ensure their continuance. We have only to find out some way whereby we may root out the fear and distrust that darken our horizon today. The politics of a subject race are largely based on fear and hatred and we have been too long under subjection to get rid of them easily. 

I was born a Hindu, but I do not know how far I am justified in calling myself one or in speaking on behalf of Hindus. But births still count in this country and by right of birth I shall venture to submit to the leaders of the Hindus that it should be their privilege to take the lead in generosity. Generosity is not only good morals, but is often good politics and sound expediency. And it is inconceivable to me that in a free India, the Hindus can ever be powerless. So far as I am concerned, I would gladly ask our Muslim and Sikh friends to take what they will without protest or argument from me. I know that the time is coming soon when these labels and appellations will have little meaning and when our struggle will be on an economic basis. Meanwhile, it matters little what our mutual arrangements are, provided only that we do not build up barriers which will come in the way of our future progress.

Towards the Goal

The time has indeed already come when the All Parties’ Report has to be put aside and we march forward unfettered to our goal. You will remember that the resolution of the last Congress fixed a year of grace for the adoption of the All-Parties’ scheme. That year is nearly over and the natural issue of that decision is for this Congress to declare in favour of independence and devise sanctions to achieve it.

Viceroy’s Announcement

Recently, there has been, a seeming offer of peace. The Viceroy has stated on behalf of the British Government that the leaders of Indian opinion will be invited to confer with the Government on the subject of India’s future constitution. The Viceroy meant well and his language was the language of peace. But even a Viceroy’s goodwill and courteous phrases are poor substitutes for the hard facts that confront us. We have sufficient experience of the devious ways of British diplomacy to beware of it. The offer which the British Government made was vague and there was no commitment or promise of performance. Only by the greatest stretch of imagination could it be interpreted as a possible response to the Calcutta resolution. Many leaders of various political parties met together soon after and considered it. They gave it the most favourable interpretation, for they desired peace and were willing to go half way to meet it. But in courteous language they made clear what the vital conditions for its acceptance were. Many of us who believed in independence and were convinced that the offer was only a device to lead us astray and create division in our ranks, suffered bitter anguish and were torn with doubt. Were we justified in precipitating a terrible national struggle with all its inevitable consequences of suffering for many, when there was even an outside chance of honourable peace? With much searching of heart we signed that manifesto and I know not today if we did right or wrong. Later came the explanations and amplifications in the British Parliament and elsewhere and all doubt, if doubt there was, was removed as to the true significance of the offer. Even so your Working Committee chose to keep open the door of negotiation and left it to this Congress to take the final decision.

During the last few days there has been another discussion of this subject in the British House of Commons and the Secretary of State for India has endeavoured to point out that successive British Governments have tried to prove, not only by words but by deeds also, the sincerity of their faith in regard to India. We must recognise Mr. Wedgwood Benn’s desire to do something for India and his anxiety to secure the goodwill of the Indian people. But his speech and other speeches made in Parliament carry us no further. “Dominion Status in action” to which he draws attention has been a snare for us and has certainly not reduced the exploitation of India.

The burdens on the Indian masses are even greater today, because of this “Dominion Status in action” and the so-called constitutional reforms of ten years ago. High Commissioners in London, and representatives of the League of Nations and the purchase of stores, and Indian Governors and high officials are no parts of our demand. We want to put an end to the exploitation of India’s poor and to get the reality of power and not merely the livery of office. Mr. Wedgwood Benn has given us a record of the achievements of the past decade. He could have added to it by referring to Martial Law in the Punjab and the Jallianwala Bagh shooting and the repression and exploitation that have gone on continually during this period of "Dominion Status in action". He has given us some insight into what more of Dominion Status may mean for us. It will mean the shadow of authority to a handful of Indians and more repression and exploitation of the masses

Independence Inevitable

What will this Congress do? The conditions for co-operation remain unfulfilled. Can we co-operate so long as there is no guarantee that real freedom will come to us? Can we co-operate when our comrades lie in prison and repression continues? Can we co-operate until we are assured that real peace is sought after and not merely a tactical advantage over us ? Peace cannot come at the point of the bayonet, and if we are to continue to be dominated over by an alien people, let us at least be no consenting parties to it.

If the Calcutta resolution holds, we have but one goal today, that of independence. Independence is not a happy word in the world today; for it means exclusiveness and isolation. Civilisation has had enough of narrow nationalism and gropes towards a wider co-operation and inter-dependence. And if we use the word ‘independence’, we do so in no sense hostile to the larger ideal. Independence for us means complete freedom from British domination and British imperialism. Having attained our freedom, I have no doubt that India will welcome all attempts at world-co-operation and federation, and will even agree to give up part of her own independence to a larger group of which she is an equal member.

British Imperialism

The British Empire today is not such a group and cannot be so long as it dominates over millions of people and holds large areas of the world’s surface despite the will of their inhabitants. It cannot be a true commonwealth so long as imperialism is its basis and the exploitation of other races its chief means of sustenance. The British Empire today is indeed gradually undergoing a process of political dissolution. It is in a state of unstable equilibrium. The Union of South Africa is not a very happy member of the family, nor is the Irish Free State, a willing one. Egypt drifts away. India could never be an equal member of the Commonwealth unless imperialism and all it implies is discarded. So long as this is not done, India’s position in the Empire must be one of subservience and her exploitation will continue.

There is talk of world-peace and pacts have been signed by the nations of the world. But despite pacts, armaments grow and beautiful language is the only homage that is paid to the goddess of peace. So long as there is domination of one country by another, or the exploitation of one class by another, there will always be attempts to subvert the existing order and no stable equilibrium can endure. Out of imperialism and capitalism peace can never come. And it is because the British Empire stands for these and bases itself on the exploitation of the masses that we can find no willing place in it. No gain that may come to us is worth anything unless it helps in removing the grievous burdens on our masses. The weight of a great Empire is heavy to carry and for long our people have endured it. Their backs are bent down and their spirit has almost broken. How will they share in the Commonwealth partnership if the burden of exploitation continues? Many of the problems we have to face are the problems of vested interests mostly created or encouraged by the British Government. The interests of the Rulers of Indian States, of British Officials and British Capital and Indian capital and of the owners of big Zamindaris are ever thrust upon us and they clamour for protection. The unhappy millions who really need protection are almost voiceless and have no advocates.

A Test

We have had much controversy about Independence and Dominion Status and we have quarrelled about words. But the real thing is the conquest of power by whatever name it may be called. I do not think that any form of Dominion Status applicable to India will give us real powers. A test of this power would be the entire withdrawal of the alien army of occupation and economic control. Let us, therefore, concentrate on these and the rest will follow easily.

Declaration of Independence

We stand therefore today for the fullest freedom of India. This Congress has not acknowledged and will not acknowledge the right of the British Parliament to dictate to us in any way. To it we make no appeal. But we do appeal to the Parliament and the conscience of the world, and to them we shall declare, I hope, that India submits no longer to any foreign domination. Today or tomorrow, we may not be strong enough to assert our will. We are very conscious of our weakness, and there is no boasting in us or pride of strength. But let no one, least of all England, mistake or under-rate the meaning or strength of our resolve. Solemnly, with full knowledge of consequences I hope, we shall take it and there will be no turning back. A great nation cannot be thwarted for long when once its mind is clear and resolved. If today we fail and tomorrow brings no success, the day after will follow and bring achievement.

No Surrender

We are weary of strife and hunger for peace and opportunity to work constructively for our country. Do we enjoy the breaking up of our homes and the sight of our brave young men going to prison or facing the halter? Does the worker like going on strike and losing even his miserable pittance and starving? He does so by sheer compulsion when there is no other way for him. And we who take this perilous path of national strife do so because there is no other way to an honourable peace. But we long for peace, and the hand of fellowship will always be stretched out to all who may care to grasp it. But behind the hand will be a body which will not bend to injustice and a mind that will not surrender on any vital point. 

With the struggle before us, the time for determining our future constitution is not yet. For two years or more we have drawn up constitutions and finally the All-Parties’ Committee put a crown to these efforts by drawing up a scheme of its own which the Congress adopted for a year. The labour that went to the making of this scheme was not wasted and India has profited by it. But the year is past and we have to face new circumstances which require action rather than constitution-making. Yet we cannot ignore the problems that beset us and that will make or mar our struggle and our future constitution. We have to aim at social adjustment and equilibrium and to overcome the forces of disruption that have been the bane of India.

Socialist Ideal

I must frankly confess that I am a socialist and a republican and am no believer in kings and princes, or in the order which produces the modern kings of industry, who have greater power over the lives and fortunes of men than even kings of old, and whose methods are predatory as those of the old feudal aristocracy. I recognise, however, that it may not be possible for a body constituted as is this National Congress and in the present circumstances of the country to adopt the full socialistic programme. But we just realise that the philosophy of socialism has gradually permeated the entire structure of society the world over and almost the only point in dispute is the pace and methods of advance to its full realisation. India will have to go that way too if she seeks to end her poverty and inequality, though she may evolve her own methods and may adapt the ideal to the genius of her race.

We have three major problems—the minorities, the Indian States, and labour and peasantry. I have dealt already with the question of minorities. I shall only repeat that we must give the fullest assurance by our words and our deeds that their culture and traditions will be safe.

The Indian States cannot live apart from the rest of India and their rulers must, unless they accept their inevitable limitations, go the way of others who thought like them. And the only people who have a right to determine the future of the States must be the people of those States, including the rulers. This Congress which claims self-determination cannot deny it to the people of the States. Meanwhile, the Congress is perfectly willing to confer with such rulers as are prepared to do so and to devise means whereby the transition may not be too sudden. But in no event can the people of the States be ignored.


Our third major problem is the biggest of all. For India means the peasantry and labour and to the extent that we raise them and satisfy their wants will we succeed in our task. And the measure of the strength of our national movement will be the measure of their adherence to it. We can only gain them to our side by espousing their cause which is really the country's cause. The Congress has often expressed its good will towards them but beyond that it has not gone. The Congress, it is said, must hold the balance fairly between capital and labour and zamindar and tenant.

But the balance has been and is terribly weighted on one side and to maintain the status quo is to maintain injustice and exploitation. The only way to right it is to do away with the domination of any one class over another. The All-India Congress Committee accepted this idea of social and economic change in a resolution it passed some months ago in Bombay. I hope the Congress will also set its seal on it and will further draw up a programme of such changes as can be immediately put in operation.

In this programme perhaps the Congress as a whole cannot go very far today. But it must keep the ultimate ideal in view and work for it. The question is not one merely of wages and charity doled out by an employer or landlord. Paternalism in industry or in the land is but a form of charity with all its sting and its utter incapacity to root out the evil. The new theory of trusteeship, which some advocate, is equally barren. For trusteeship means that the power for good or evil remains with the self-appointed trustee and he may exercise it as he will. The sole trusteeship that can be fair is the trusteeship of the nation and not of one individual or a group. Many Englishmen honestly consider themselves the trustees for India, and yet to what a condition they have reduced our country.

Human Interests First

We must decide for whose benefit industry must be run and the land produce food. Today the abundance that the land produces is not for the peasant or the labourer who works on it; and industry’s chief function is supposed to be to produce millionaires. However golden the harvests and heavy the dividends, the mud-huts and hovels and nakedness of our people testify to the glory of the British Empire and of our present social system.

Our economic programme must therefore be based on a human outlook and must not sacrifice man to money. If an industry cannot be run without starving its workers, then the industry must be closed down. If the workers on the land have not enough to eat, then the intermediaries who deprive them of their full share must go. The least that every worker in the field or factory is entitled to is a minimum wage which will enable him to live in moderate comfort, and human hours of labour which do not break his strength and spirit. The All-Parties’ Committee accepted the principle and included it in their recommendations. I hope the Congress will also do so and will in addition be prepared to accept its natural consequences. Further than that, it will adopt the well-known demands of labour for a better life, and will give every assistance to it to organise itself and prepare itself for the day when it can control industry on a co-operative basis.

Our Peasant Class

But industrial labour is only a small part of India although it is rapidly becoming a force that cannot be ignored. It is the peasantry that cry loudly and piteously for relief and our programme must deal with their present condition. Real relief can only come by a great change in the land-laws and the basis of the present system of land tenure. We have among us many big landowners and we welcome them. But they must realise that the ownership of large estates by individuals, which is the outcome of a State resembling the old feudalism of Europe, is a rapidly disappearing phenomenon all over the world! Even in countries which are the strongholds of capitalism the large estates are being split up and given to the peasantry who work on them. In India also, we have large areas where the system of peasant proprietorship prevails and we shall have to extend this all over the country. I hope that in doing so, we may have the co-operation of some at least of the big landowners.

It is not possible for this Congress at its annual session to draw up any detailed economic programme. It can only lay down some general principles and call upon the the All-India Congress Committee to fill in the details in co-operation with the representatives of the Trade Union Congress and other organisations which are vitally interested in this matter. Indeed, I hope that the co-operation between this Congress and the Trade Union Congress will grow and the two organisations will fight side by side in future struggles.

Conquest of Power

All these are pious hopes till we gain power, and the real problem therefore before us is the conquest of power. We shall not do so by subtle reasoning or argument or lawyers’ quibbles, but by the forging of sanction to enforce the nation’s will. To that end this Congress must address itself.

The past year has been one of preparation for us and we have made every effort to re-organise and strengthen the Congress organisation. The results have been considerable and our organisation is in a better state today than at any time since the reaction which followed the non-co-operation movement. But our weaknesses are many and are apparent enough. Mutual strife, even within Congress Committees, is unhappily too common and election squabbles drain all our strength and energy.  How can we fight a great fight if we cannot get over this ancient weakness of ours and rise above our pretty selves ? I earnestly hope that with a strong programme of action before the country, our perspective will improve and we will not tolerate this barren and demoralising strife.

Violence or Non-Violence

What can this programme be ? Our choice is limited, not by our own constitution which we can change at our will but by facts and circumstances. Article one of our constitution lays down that our methods must be legitimate and peaceful. Legitimate I hope they will always be, for we must not sully the great cause for which we stand by any deed that will bring dishonour to it and that we may ourselves regret later. Peaceful I should like them to be, for the methods of peace are more desirable and more enduring than those of violence. Violence too often brings reaction and demoralisation in its train, and in our country especially it may lead to disruption. It is perfectly true that organised violence rules the world today and it may be that we could profit by its use. But we have not the material or the training for organised violence and individual or sporadic violence is a confession of despair. The great majority of us, I take it, judge the issue not on moral but on practical grounds, and if we reject the way of violence it is becaue it promises no substantial results.

Any great movement for liberation today must necessarily be a mass movement and mass movements must essentially be peaceful, except in times of organised revolt. Whether we have the non-co-operation of a decade ago or the modern industrial weapon of the general strike, the basis is peaceful organisation and peaceful action. And if the principal movement is a peaceful one, contemporaneous attempts at sporadic violence can only distract attention and weaken it. It is not possible to carry on at one and the same time the two movements, side by side. We have to choose and strictly to abide by our choice. What the choice of this Congress is likely to be I have no doubt. It can only choose a peaceful mass movement.

Should we repeat the programme and tactics of the non-co-operation movement ? Not necessarily, but the basic idea must remain. Programmes and tactics must be made to fit in with circumstances and it is neither easy nor desirable for this Congress at this stage to determine them in detail. That should be the work of its executive, the All-India Congress Committee. But the principles have to be fixed.

The old programme was one of the three boycotts— Councils, law courts and schools—leading up to refusal of service in the army and non-payment of taxes. When the national struggle is at its height, I fail to see how it will be possible for any person engaged in it to continue in the courts or the schools. But still I think that it will be unwise to declare a boycott of the courts and schools at this stage.

Boycott of Legislatures

The boycott of the Legislative Councils has led to much heated debate in the past and this Congress itself has been rent in twain over it. We need not revive that controversy, for the circumstances today are entirely different. I feel that the step the Congress took some years ago to permit Congressmen to enter the Councils was an inevitable step and I am not prepared to say that some good has not resulted from it. But we have exhausted that good and there is no middle course left today between boycott and full co-operation. All of us know the demoralisation that these sham legislatures have brought in our ranks and now many of our good men, their committees and commissions lure away. Our worker sare limited in number and we can have no mass movement unless they concentrate on it and turn their back to the palatial Council Chambers of our Legislatures. And if we declare for independence, how can we enter the Councils and carry on our humdrum and profitless activities there? No programme or policy can be laid down for ever, nor can this Congress bind the country or even itself to pursue one line of action indefinitely. But today I would respectfully urge the Congress that the only policy in regard to the Councils is a complete boycott of them. The All-India Congress Committee recommended this course in July last and the time has come to give effect to it.

This boycott will only be a means to an end. It will release energy and divert attention to the real struggle which must take the shape of the non-payment of taxes, where possible, with the co-operation of the labour movements, general strikes. But non-payment of taxes must be well organised in specific areas, and for this purpose the Congress should authorise the All-India Congress Committee to take the necessary action, wherever and whenever it considers desirable.

I have not so far referred to the constructive programme of the Congress. This should certainly continue but the experience of the last few years shows us that by itself it does not carry us swiftly enough. It prepared the ground for future action and ten years’ silent work is bearing fruit today. In particular we shall, I hope, continue our boycott of foreign cloth and the boycott of British goods.

Question of Debts

Our programme must, therefore, be one of political and economic boycott. It is not possible for us, so long as we are not actually independent, and not even then completely, to boycott another country wholly or to sever all connection with it. But our endeavour must be to reduce all points of contact with the British Government and to rely on ourselves. We must also make it clear that India will not accept responsibility for all the debts that Eagland has piled on her. The Gaya Congress repudiated liability to these debts and we must repeat this repudiation and stand by it. Such of India’s public debt as has been used for purposes beneficial to India we are prepared to admit and pay back. But we wholly deny all liability to pay back the vast sums which have been raised, so that India may be held in subjection and her burdens be increased. In particular the poverty-stricken people of India cannot agree to shoulder the burden of the wars fought by England to extend her domain and consolidate her position in India. Nor can they accept the many concessions lavishly bestowed without any proper compensation on foreign exploiters.

I have not referred so far to the Indians overseas and I do not propose to say much about them. This is not from any want of fellow-feeling with our brethren in East Africa or South Africa or Fiji or elsewhere, who are bravely struggling against great odds. But their fate will be decided in the plains of India and the struggle we are launching into is as much for them as for ourselves.

Efficient Machinery Necessary

For this struggle, we want efficient machinery. Our Congress constitution and organisation have become too archaic and slow-moving and are ill-suited to times of crisis. The times of great demonstrations are past. We want quiet and irresistible action now and this can only be brought about by the strictest discipline in our ranks. Our resolutions must be passed in order to be acted upon. The Congress will gain in strength, however small its actual membership may become, if it acts in a disciplined way. Small determined minorities have changed the fate of nations. Mobs and crowds can do little. Freedom itself involves restraint and discipline and each one of us will 'have to subordinate himself to the larger good.

Ever Supreme Endeavour

The Congress represents no small minority in the country and though many may be too weak to join it or to work for it, they look to it with hope and longing to bring them deliverance. Ever since the Calcutta resolution, the country has waited with anxious expectation for this great day when this Congress meets. None of us can say what and when we can achieve. We cannot command success. But success often comes to those who dare and act; it seldom goes to the timid who are ever afraid of the consequences. We play for high stakes; and if we seek to achieve great things it can only be through great dangers. Whether we succeed soon or late, none but ourselves can stop us from high endeavour and from writing a noble page in our country’s long and splendid history.

We have conspiracy cases going on in various parts of the country. They are ever with us. But the time has gone for secret conspiracy. We have now an open conspiracy to free this country from foreign rule, and you comrades, and all our countrymen and countrywomen are invited to join it. But the rewards that are in store for you are suffering and prison and it may be death. But you shall also have the satisfaction that you have done your little bit for India, the ancient, but ever young, and have helped a little in the liberation of humanity from its present bondage.

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