26 January 1950: A Historic Day

Jawaharlal Nehru’s message to the nation. New Delhi, 25 January 1950

Events crowd in upon us and because of their quick succession we are apt to miss their significance. Some of us give messages on every occasion exhorting people to great endeavour and even these messages become stale through repetition. 

Yet undoubtedly 26 January 1950 is a day of high significance for India and the Indian people. It does mean the consummation of one important phase of our national struggle. That journey is over, to give place to another and perhaps more arduous journey. A pledge is fulfilled and the fulfilment of every pledge gives satisfaction and strength for future endeavour.

There is a peculiar appropriateness about this January 26, for this day links up the past with the present and this present is seen to grow out of that past. Twenty years ago we took the first pledge of independence. 

During these twenty years we have known struggle and conflict and failure and achievement. The man who led us through apparent failure to achievement is no more with us, but the fruit of his labours is ours. What we do with this fruit depends upon many factors, the basic factors being those on which Gandhiji laid stress throughout his life—high character, integrity of mind and purpose, a spirit of tolerance and cooperation and hard work. 

I can only suggest to our people that we should found our republican freedom on these basic characteristics and shed fear and hatred from our minds and think always of the betterment of the millions of our people.

We are fortunate to witness the emergence of the Republic of India and our successors may well envy us this day. But fortune is a hostage which has to be jealously guarded by our own good work and which has a tendency to slip away if we slacken in our efforts or if we look in wrong directions. 

Jai Hind!

Published in National Herald, 26 January 1950

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