Freedom and Responsibility

Jawaharlal Nehru's speech at a public meeting, Thiruvananthapuram, 1 June 1950. SWJN/S2/14B/191-203

You have heard of socialism and communism and the like, and personally I have always felt a considerable attraction towards the socialist theory. But whether you have socialism or any other “ism” or capitalism, the basic thing is that you must produce wealth first before you can distribute it. People think too much in terms just of distribution but what will you distribute if you have not got anything to distribute? Therefore, production becomes important. Therefore, it becomes necessary when you consider the question of food in our country—and this State, as you know, is deficit in food,—it becomes important to increase our food supply, by intensive cultivation, by bringing more lands under cultivation and the like. 

There is a great deal of room by intensive cultivation to increase our food supply. And so also, in regard to industrial goods, we must produce the goods that we require and not rely on other countries. Therefore, production has become essential. We want to raise wages, we want to raise salaries, so as to raise standards of life. How are we to do that? How is your Travancore State to do it? After all it can only do it in so far as it has money in its possession to do it. How does it get money? It gets it from taxation, taxing you and all the people here. They can only tax up to a certain limit unless your income is more. So you see you get into a vicious circle. Ultimately it depends on how much the people of a State or of India produce. The more wealth they produce the more goes properly into distribution through salaries and wages and other ways. If people think that by not producing, by passing resolutions, they can increase the wealth of the country, that is sheer nonsense. It is true that people object, and rightly object, that if they produce a great deal, it goes, the profits go into wrong pockets; they accumulate; that is wrong. Therefore, it becomes necessary for proper distribution to be made, so that justice may be done. But remember that the essential thing, and the first thing, is to produce. Now, I did not intend talking about production and distribution but somehow I got that into my mind as I was speaking to you.

But truly, at the present moment when we have solved the problem of political freedom, the other highly important problem of economic advances and economic freedom, comes up before us. After all, political freedom is a necessity by itself, but in reality it is the door to economic advance. If political freedom does not lead to economic freedom and advance, then it has not served its purpose properly. And the biggest problem that we have got to face today is the problem of economic advance of our people. We got our freedom at a difficult time when the world and our country were suffering from the effects of this great World War which had shaken up all countries, which had created inflation and all kinds of difficulties and which had destroyed a great deal of the world’s goods. We had to face that. We had to face other problems. A big part of our country was cut off by partition. That gave a great shock to our system. We have had to face a good deficit, and we have had to import food. We have had to feed and clothe and rehabilitate seven or eight or nine millions of refugees, a tremendous number, just at the moment when we became free. Just look at the picture, the enormous burdens this country had to carry.

Well, we faced them with such courage and ability as we had, and if we have not solved those problems, at any rate, we have not surrendered to them and we have not collapsed and we have advanced some way, I think, towards their solution. But the way is hard and difficult and it is no good my making big promises to you, because those promises ultimately depend not on what I may do, or what the government may do, but they depend a great deal on what the people of this country will do and will not do. People seem to think that by government decrees and government laws a country changes. A country changes only by the hard work of vast numbers of people in that country, not a few only. Laws and decrees come in to help, to open the way to work, to make it easy for people to work, to see that they get back the worth of their work, to see that their labour is not wasted. But laws and decrees and resolutions by themselves do not go far unless they have the full cooperation of the people and the people themselves set their shoulders to the wheel. Therefore, when you criticise the government, whether it is the Travancore Government or the Government of India, you have every right to do so, do so by all means. I am not afraid of criticism and nobody should be afraid of criticism if it is healthy criticism. Malicious criticism has no value. Destructive criticism does not carry us very far; constructive criticism is always helpful. But however you criticise, remember this, that in the end, if we go for any very big undertaking—and what bigger undertaking can you have than the raising of the standards of living of three hundred and fifty million people. It is a terrific job, raising one-fifth of the human race. There is no bigger job on the earth’s surface today—so that when you undertake this big job, that job can only be done with any measure of success when those millions of people themselves put their shoulders to the wheel. There is a great deal that they can do and it is the duty of government not merely to do something itself but rather to make it easy for those people to help themselves. I confess to you that my Government has not shown the way to the people to do that very easily. We have exhorted them, certainly, we have asked them to do something, to produce more, but we have not shown any easier, very facile way for them to work in that direction. But in any event what you should understand is this, that whether you have a good government or a bad government, ultimately it depends on you, and on your labour; and the best of governments cannot deliver the goods unless the people themselves put their shoulders to the wheel.

...Now freedom brings many things, much good, but freedom also brings a great deal in the way of responsibility. A free people, unless they realise their responsibilities, unless they act up to them, they are liable to lose their freedom. I sometimes wonder whether the people of India, having attained their political freedom, recognise and realise what responsibilities they have to face. It has been said that it may be difficult to attain freedom, but sometimes it is more difficult to retain it, to keep it, because when you have won freedom, you become rather somnolent, you think you have done your job, and you forget that freedom can only be kept by eternal vigilance and people who forget that lesson lose their freedom. How did we get our freedom? What did Mahatmaji teach us? He taught us to forget our petty differences, whether they were provincial, whether they were communal, whether they were religious, to strive in a unified way for the unity of India, to bring about a certain equality in the country, to put an end to the curse of untouchability, and he taught us to work, whether it was cottage industry or charkha or whatever. Now, those lessons which were so important when we were struggling for our freedom, remain important today. When I see people forgetting them, losing themselves in their petty quarrels and squabbles, when I see communalism raising its head again, when I see this lack of discipline in the country, and provincialism coming to the fore again, then I wonder if we have not forgotten those main lessons that Mahatmaji taught us. And if we forget those lessons, I have not a shadow of a doubt, that we shall do so at our peril and our liberty and our freedom itself will be in danger. So it is time that we think again, what is the basis of our freedom? How can India be a great country? How can we build up this new India that we have hoped for, because it will not come up merely by itself. You and I and all of us in this country will have to work hard for it, to build it up and only then will we succeed.///

Look at India today, this is a great country, which in spite of the partition, in spite of some rich and very precious parts of India going out of India, nevertheless, it is a very great country, a very large country, a country with an infinite of resources of all kinds, all varieties, and a country with a human population very large— much too large, I wish it was smaller; nevertheless, a human population, which is intelligent, which is clever with its mind and its hands, which can take to anything whether it is the finest industry, the highly specialised industry, whether it is artisanship and do it with success. So we have the natural resources and we have the human resources. What comes in the way of our putting them together? Because if a country has natural resources and human resources then all that has to be done is to yoke them together and achieve certain big results. Yet somehow or other, we do not achieve those results as quickly as we want. Because we have some failings too. many failings, and among those failings, is a spirit of separatism, a fissiparous tendency, a tendency to faction and a lack of discipline. And so somehow, we do not achieve the big results that we aim at. We see countries like Germany and Japan, great countries, which in this War were completely defeated, completely humiliated and completely ruined. Yet the War ended only five years ago, and you see today a new Germany rising up and a new Japan rising up. Neither Germany nor Japan wails and groans and complains. They are disciplined folk. And having met with disaster and defeat, having followed a wrong policy, and having suffered because they followed a wrong policy, well, they have set their shoulders to the wheel again, quietly, silently, working for themselves and for their country and building it up. And now, four or five years later, if you look at their industrial output, in economic terms or any term, they are producing sometimes even more than they did before. Because they are working hard. Some Japanese specialists come to Delhi to teach our folk, the refugees and others, cottage industries and the like. They told us, “your people are very clever, but they are very lazy. They do not work.” Those Japanese themselves work all day from morning till evening, hard work, and they are used to it. But our people who work with them, they are quite good but compared to the Japanese, are found lazy. Well, if you and I are going to be lazy, then obviously we cannot expect much to happen. Somebody else is not going to work for us. We shall have to work and we shall have to work hard.

Work itself, working hard does harm to nobody. Work is bad if one works under compulsion and for somebody else’s benefit. If you are in prison and you have to work under prison regulations, well, nobody would like it. But the same work, if you do out of your goodwill to benefit yourself and to benefit your country, becomes a pleasure. It is not work that is bad, but the approach to work and the conditions of work. But one thing is dead certain, that our country or any country, will only go ahead when people in large numbers work hard and produce. The second part is equally important, that what they produce should be utilized to the national advantage and not for the good of a few. That is a second part of this proposition.

So that, today, for instance, our primary problem, you might say, is the food problem because a nation must have enough food. If we do not have enough food, we have to import food from abroad. That is bad enough. We have to send our money abroad. But, suppose, some difficulty comes, suppose a war occurs, and we cannot get food from abroad, what will we do then? It will be a terrible outlook for us. Therefore, if we really value our independence, it becomes essential for us to produce enough food, so that we might not go under in times of crisis Therefore, we have given priority number one to food production and we have resolved that by the end of next year, 1951, we shall make our country self-sufficient in food. It may be that in doing so, many of us may have to change our food habits In times of war, the last war, almost every warring country, like England, Germany like every country in Europe, had to do without the food they were used to Well, they did without them. Even today in England there are all kinds of restrictions on food. But the British people are a disciplined people. They do not shout. They put up with them. They take the food they get. But our people are so used to certain routines and habits that, if they do not get the exact things they have been used to eat, then they almost prefer starving to eating anything else Now, we must have some flexibility about us, flexibility of mind, flexibility of body, flexibility, if I may say so, of your digestive organs. Otherwise, you suffer and the country suffers. And you must realise that we will do our utmost to produce more food. But if a particular variety of food is less in the country after a year and a half or so, then people will have to eat a little of some other variety.

Now, I said food is the primary problem. That is true. But really you cannot separate these things. Industrial growth is equally essential. You have got here in Travancore some hydro-electric power schemes. They are relatively small. We have got some enormous schemes, up in the north and east. Look at the map of India. You see this mighty chain of the Himalayas. A tremendous barrier, as if huge barriers were erected to separate India from the rest of Asia. Look at that Himalayan barrier.

It is a source of tremendous power and energy provided we can utilize it. Great rivers flow down it, roaring torrents, full of tremendous energy and strength, if we can capture that strength and convert it into power and use that power for the public good. Well we have got some big schemes on, and those schemes will take four or five years to materialise, but we hope in the course of the next two or three years to get some benefit from them and much more benefit later, both in regard to food production and in regard to industrial growth and more power. Remember, power is essential today for industrial growth. You cannot grow in any direction without power. I am glad to know that, perhaps, in a year or two in Travancore and Cochin State you will have probably enough power and more than enough power than you can use. Today you can test a nation’s growth by seeing how much power it possesses and can use, whether it is thermal power or hydro-electric power or whatever it may be. Some day will come, no doubt, I hope, that you may use here a great deal of atomic energy power. However, we have to wait for that for Now again look at this great country of ours. I came here yesterday, and I dashed down to Kanya Kumari—Cape Comorin and spent a night there. And although the gods were not very kind and it rained, nevertheless I was very happy to go there and it came to my mind, that here I am sitting at the southern tip of India, with a vast country above me, to the north of me, numerous provinces, States and the rest, mountains and rivers, and my mind went back to the northern limit of this country, which is Kashmir, nearly two thousand miles away. Ladakh and Kashmir are practically in the heart of Asia. Ladakh is almost across the Himalayan barrier on the other side. The lowest place in Ladakh is eleven thousand feet altitude. And I felt and I wondered, when I thought of India with its tremendous variety and diversity, here is India in Kashmir, with its amazing beauty of nature and its high mountains and glaciers and rich valleys, here is India in Ladakh, bare and barren, and almost an extension of Tibet, and here is India also, if you like, in Travancore, near the Equator, completely different. So, and in between, all the variety of this country, the diversity of it, and yet wherever you may go, the tremendous impress of its unity, which I found in Ladakh, which I found in Kashmir, which I find in Travancore or any other part of India that I go to. I myself, though born on the banks of the Jamuna and the Ganges in Allahabad, as you know my family hails from Kashmir, I feel very much at home in Kashmir when I go there, in the mountains and rivers and bleak glaciers. But when I come to Travancore, I feel at home here also. And so, I feel at home wherever I may go in India.

Now I want you to appreciate this conception of India, with its great diversity and its fundamental basic unity. That is one conception I want you to realize and appreciate, because I do not want personally, in any way even if I could, which I cannot, to put an end to this great variety and diversity of India. At the same time, while I do not wish to put an end to that, I realize more and more that at any time, and more especially today, we have to think in terms of the unity of India, and to discourage and stop any tendency, which comes in the way of that unity. The diversity of India is obvious enough. It is the beauty of India, this diversity. But in the world today, it is even more important for us to stress the unity of India. That basic unity has been shaken up tremendously by the partition of India and the formation of Pakistan. Well, that has been done. And we do not want it undone. Not only would we have not wanted it undone after it was done, but many things have happened since then, which make it still less desirable to undo it. Let us leave, therefore, Pakistan out of account, from this point of view. But it is true that the partition of India, apart from creating Pakistan, shook up the body and soul of India tremendously. It gave us tremendous nervous shocks. In the individual when enormous shock comes there may be a nervous breakdown, there may be neurosis, and ultimately there may be insanity when this is a terrible shock. So also in a nation and in a community, when great shocks like this come, they shake up the mind and spirit and soul of the nation. We have been shaken up, just as Pakistan is also shaken up, and horrible things happened after the partition, not here, but in north India, terrible things, which none of us who has seen them

can ever forget. But however horrible those things, we could not run away. At any rate, we had learnt that great lesson, we had imbibed that much courage from our master, the Mahatma. We did not run away. We faced things which broke our heart. Nevertheless, we worked on. So by this partition of India and what followed, India suffered a terrible shock. Because it was cutting up a living body. Well, we have survived that shock, but not completely yet, and the effects of that remain still in many ways, rather psychological and mental and the worst effect of it was this, that it has brought to the front many other separatist and fissiparous tendencies in the country. Many reactionary tendencies, which now try to speak in terms of nationalism, really seek to break up India as it is or seek to do things which will inevitably go to break up India or make it weak. Therefore, it has become necessary for me to remind you, and to remind the country all the time, that we have to be vigilant against these things. Because they do not come straight to you and talk in straight terms. They come by devious ways. They appeal sometimes to your religious sentiments, sometimes, may be, to your cultural sentiments, sometimes some other way, and without realizing where you are going, you are swept in a wrong direction. Therefore, it becomes important and essential that we should hold to that anchor, because I am convinced about this more than about anything else, that if we forget those basic things that Mahatmaji stood for, then we do not serve our nation, we weaken the country and we imperil our freedom, and what is more, the things that have made India great in the past, and that we hope will make her greater in future, those things slip by, and we become narrow-minded communalists working in our small grooves, or narrow-minded provincialists working in our provinces and States and forgetting the larger good of the country, and not realizing that our own limited good as an individual or as a State or as a province is so intimately connected with the larger good, that if the larger good suffers, we suffer, and our personal selves and families and States also suffer. As a matter of fact, I could go a step further and say that the world has become so closely knit up together, that if a deep injury is done to any part of the world it affects the whole world. If a great war occurs, well, the whole world suffers. That is true of the whole world, more and more, but after all, we are not responsible for the world. We cannot do very much if the world goes wrong. We try to do our little bit. We try to shape our foreign policy so that peace might be preserved in the world. We try to keep out of entanglements, power blocs and the like, because we think those entanglements, those power blocs may lead to war on a big scale. But after all, we are a new free country. We are an old country with newly acquired freedom, and though our potential strength is great, our actual strength is not so great. And let us not imagine that it is great. We are weak in the councils of the world, and we should know that, and work to make ourselves strong; work quietly, not by shouting. Therefore, we do what we can in world affairs, it does not amount to much, though it does amount to something, and it is quite possible at a moment of crisis, we might make some slight difference. Our counsel counts for a little more in Asia, not because of our strength, military or financial, because we have neither financial strength nor military strength, but because our neighbour countries of Asia know that we have no design upon them. They can trust us, as we can trust them. So we take counsel together. So we affect each other.

You know that I am really here in Travancore today on my way to Indonesia, another great country', which has recently become free and which is facing terrible problems. Now why is Indonesia so friendly to India and why is India so friendly to Indonesia? For a variety of reasons. And we are more friendly to each other, if I may say so, than we are to any other country. We have nothing to gain from each other. We have no designs on each other. But somehow the course of our struggle for freedom, the knowledge of it in each other’s minds brought us near each other, made us respect each other. There is, of course, a great deal in Indonesia which is common to us, and there is a great deal that they have taken from us, and the relics of which we find still there. However whether we affect world affairs or Asian affairs much or little depends on the future. But so far as our own affairs are concerned, if we cannot control our own affairs in India, then obviously we would suffer for it. We shall go to the wall. And it becomes of essential importance that we should understand this lesson of unity in India, unity and discipline. A united country even if it goes wrong, can retrace its steps and do right later. A disunited country even if it does right can do precious little. It goes to pieces. A disciplined country can go far, because its discipline itself is great strength. An undisciplined country again is a weak country. I repeat this again and again because the whole history of India teaches us this lesson that while we have had resources, while we have had ability, while we have had courage and the spirit of sacrifice, we have lacked unity and we have lacked discipline. And if we have not learnt that lesson yet, then all our ability and learning and even courage will not do much for us, because they will be wasted due to our indiscipline and lack of unity.

The first thing that came in the way of our lack of unity, which delayed our freedom for a long time, was the spirit of communalism. Now, unfortunately, many people who criticise Pakistan a great deal, who used to and still criticise communalism of the Muslim League, have now developed that communalism themselves. It is an extraordinary thing. That is a strange thing to happen, and all these communal movements that you see today in this country, whether it is the Hindu Mahasabha or the R.S.S., or other movements you may have in the South with which I am not so well acquainted; the whole thing amazingly enough is just a reflex of what the Muslim League did here. Well, we suffered enough from that thing. Are we going to put up with these new and objectionable growths in our country, which imperil our unity and weaken us? I want you to think of that. I hope not. Certainly, in so far as I have any strength in me, I propose to combat every shape and form of communalism.

I am not afraid of opposition in this country. I do not mind if thought-out opposition grows up in this country based on some theory, some practice, on some constructive schemes. I do not want India to be just millions of people saying “yes” to one thing, that is not the way intelligent human beings develop. But what I think is not good for a country, is just the spirit of faction by itself, the spirit of destruction or destructive criticism by itself, for that leads to nowhere. I want opposition. I feel stale and weak if I have not got somebody to fight. So I want opposition. It strengthens the country. It strengthens the party, and it is very weakening for a group or a party or for a country to feel that it has fought its last fight. No country ever does that.

What is the matter with us today? What is the matter with the Congress today, with most Congressmen? They think that, well, because they laboured for some years, because they went to prison a few times, therefore they need not do anything now and get a reward for their labours. Well, now that is a dangerous thing. First of all, in a labour of this kind, the reward is the labour itself, and no other reward. But apart from that, it is a most dangerous type of mind which becomes complacent, when dangers, perils threaten us all round. Tremendous things are happening in Asia, big changes, epoch-making changes, in fact the whole weight of current history is gradually shifting from Europe and America to Asia, and big things are likely to happen whether in war or whether in peace in Asia. So in this dynamic, changing revolutionary world, if we in India grow complacent, we are done for. We have to be wide awake. We have to be vigilant. We have to be disciplined, and we have to work our hardest.

Well, we have to work our hardest, how? In what direction? What are we to do about it? There comes in the question of economic policy. Now, I am not going to say much about economic policy, because it is a very big subject, and it is a very difficult subject. But I shall say this about it, that I am accused, may be rightly accused, by some of my old colleagues for having pretended to be a socialist in the past and having forgotten it, and having more or less sided with the capitalists.

Well, it is very difficult to judge oneself, and it may be that 1 have gradually deteriorated. Nevertheless, I can only judge things with such mental capacity as I have got, and it seems to me that the first thing to do for a human being today, is to get rid of a dogmatic way of thinking. Whatever philosophy you may follow in life, it should teach you that life is a dynamic, continually changing thing.. It is in a state of flux. Life in India today, the economic life, every type of life is changing. Now just to repeat some dogma, regardless of circumstances, does not seem to me a very intelligent thing to do. As a matter of fact, the socialism I learnt was this, that you cannot apply any single rule unthinkingly to any country, that you must take into consideration the objective and other conditions of that country and apply them, and see how far it can be applied. Let us get rid of slogans. Let us think precisely, what to do and how to do it. Let us for the moment not talk about capitalism and socialism even, although they are useful terms. We have got to remove the poverty of this country. We have got to raise the level of our masses in every way. How are we to do it? What are the first necessities? Food, clothing, houses, yes; education, health, yes. How are we to do all this? Let us think in those terms and set about the business instead of sitting down and arguing some deep dogmatic truth of socialism or communism or capitalism or some other ‘ism’. Study them by all means, but ultimately try to find out the problem we have, try to find out how to solve it in concrete terms, not in theoretical terms.

Now I am prepared to admit frankly, that during the last, well, two and a half years or more, since we have been functioning as an independent government, we have faced great dangers and I hope we have faced them bravely. But it is true that on the economic plane, we have worked rather spasmodically, because we have to face so many difficult situations from day to day, and we have not had, perhaps, the time or the opportunity to think about these matters in that constructive, planned way that we should have done. I am glad to say that we are now facing these problems through a Planning Commission, which recently came into existence and which consists of very eminent men devoted to this task. I am sure that with their help, the Government of India and the State Governments will find it easier to solve some of the problems that face us.

Now may I, it comes to my mind in this connection, say something about a matter which I read about in the newspapers today. You know that for the last three years or more we have had a very eminent son of Travancore in our Central Cabinet, Dr John Matthai, and whatever activity he indulged in, whatever portfolio he held, he distinguished himself considerably, not only because of his ability, but of his well-known integrity and earnestness. And so for these three years and more we have functioned together, and have, I hope both of us, a great deal of respect for each other and it was a matter of great regret for me that so far as the Cabinet is concerned, we have had to part company recently. It is a matter of equal regret for all of us in Delhi that his wife, Mrs Matthai [1], who has made a tremendous name for herself in Delhi by her very great labours for the refugees and women and children, that she was going away. I am glad however that she has promised to come back to look after the women and children.

However, Dr Matthai, I find in today’s papers, gave a statement to the press yesterday[2], in which he has said something which requires some elucidation. It was not my wish nor my desire to go into this matter, but I felt, when I read this, and when I read some newspaper comments that it was not fair to the public to leave it in the dark. Normally, one does not talk about Cabinet matters and Cabinet secrets. But in a democracy, one must take the people into confidence, sometimes. Dr Matthai has said in his statement, I speak from memory, that he resigned from the Cabinet and from his Finance portfolio because of certain differences with the Prime Minister on important matters of policy. Further, he believes that in a Cabinet there should be joint responsibility and because, he felt, he could not agree to something that I and the rest of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister stood for, he found it difficult to continue. Now that statement, as it is, is perfectly correct. I have nothing further to say. But it does produce a certain difficulty and an embarrassing position not only for Dr Matthai, but for me and for our colleagues in the Cabinet to leave it at that. And people wonder what this matter is, about which there is a difference in policy. And sometimes they make the wildest and most incorrect guesses.

First of all, may I say, that I entirely believe, and we must believe, in the joint responsibility of the Cabinet, whether it is the Central Cabinet or a State or a provincial Cabinet. We have in our Constitution largely accepted the British practice in constitutional matters and that British practice is that of joint responsibility. Also it casts a special burden on the Prime Minister. That is to say, while every member of the Cabinet is jointly responsible in regard to major matters of policy, the Prime Minister is particularly responsible for them for the simple reason, because of his position and the way the office of the Prime Minister has grown in the United Kingdom. So I accept that entirely. In so far as I am concerned, I can inform you that we have functioned in our Central Cabinet on that assumption of joint responsibility. Sometimes the Cabinet has decided something with which I did not agree; sometimes other members did not agree, but because it was jointly decided -we stood by it jointly. That is admitted.

Now, it is true that certain differences arose in regard to, not so much of policy, if I may say so, but the approach to policy between Dr Matthai and myself. And I have to be now a little frank with you and with the country, so that there might not be any misapprehension. That wouid be unfair to Dr Matthai and unfair to me. The differences were largely concerned with the appointment and the purpose of the Planning Commission. You know that I have long been connected with some kind of planning, and I have long felt that planning is absolutely essential for any country, much more so for our country at this stage. Apart from that, the Congress has repeatedly laid stress on the appointment of a planning commission.

On several occasions in this Parliament and the last, I gave an assurance that a planning commission would be appointed. So I was not only in favour of it, but committed to it. Dr Matthai felt that the appointment of a planning commission at this stage was neither necessary nor desirable. Not that Dr Matthai is opposed to planning in general, but he said, at this stage of the country, it was not necessary or desirable because he felt that our resources were limited. It is possible that by appointing a planning commission, we might produce an impression in people’s minds that great things are going to be done. When we cannot do those great things, their hopes will be frustrated, and that would be a bad thing. Therefore, Dr Matthai felt that a planning commission will needlessly make people think in a wrong direction and raise hopes which we cannot fulfil. We should go slow and we should try to husband our resources as best as we can, and then later may think of bigger schemes. Now there is a great deal in that argument, which I appreciate and you will no doubt appreciate. Nevertheless, my line of thinking and the line of thinking of many of my colleagues is this, that we realize completely that our resources are limited but because our resources are limited today, there is all the more the reason why we should plan so that they may not be wasted, so that we may use them to the best advantage. That is my line of thinking, right or wrong. And there is this difficulty, not so much, in the particular policy we should follow—because it is for the Planning Commission to recommend a policy and it is for Government ultimately to accept it or not—but rather to the approach to that policy: whether we should appoint a Planning Commission to go thoroughly into this question or not. There was this difference, which I regretted greatly. I myself was a strong believer in the approach through a Planning Commission, but apart from my belief in it I stood committed to it, because the Congress was committed, because our party was committed, because I had as Prime Minister given assurances repeatedly in Parliament that we will appoint a planning commission. That was the main point of difference.

Now there is one thing, I might point out. In reading an article in a newspaper from Madras today, which dealt with this particular matter, there was some reference to this business of my being a kind of an autocrat or introducing authoritarian methods in the Government of India or in the Cabinet. Well, again, it is rather difficult to discuss about myself. But so far as I know, we have done nothing affecting that principle of joint responsibility of the Cabinet. There is no question of autocracy and authoritarianism. But I have stated in public or semi-public, that as I am chiefly responsible for what the Cabinet or the Government does, if on a major matter of policy, my Government decides against what I think right, then obviously it becomes difficult for me to carry on. Because mine will be the responsibility. Why am I there in Government?.I am there basically because the Congress organization put me there. If tomorrow the Congress Working Committee or the All India Congress Committee say to me “come out”, well, I would come out. I do not argue with anybody. If tomorrow the members of our party in Parliament tell me. “get out”, well, I shall get out. And, of course, even without either of them telling me, if I feel like getting out, I shall get out. But the point is this, that in regard to major policies, whatever they may be, I cannot conscientiously remain there if I go counter to those basic policies for which the Congress has stood. Of course, I do not think any government can follow in meticulous detail, any policy laid down in this way. I am not talking about details. I am talking of the major approaches to a problem. Suppose the Congress approach has been a non-communal one in regard to our general politics. Now if my Government, or if my party in Parliament there, adopts an attitude which is communal, and which is opposed to the Congress attitude, well, then if I continue as Prime Minister, I become responsible for it. I must go, if I am true to that Congress policy which I represented. Suppose in the same way that the Congress lays down the broad principles of an economic policy—I do not think it is fair for any details to be laid down because it depends on circumstances but the broad approach and the broad principles—if I cannot follow them what have I got to do? The first thing I have to do is to go back to the Congress Working Committee or the A.I.C.C. and tell them, these are my difficulties, I cannot follow your policy entirely because of this difficulty. Well, either they tell me, we appreciate your difficulties, we vary our policy, or they say no, difficulty or no difficulty, you have got to do it. Well, then I have to choose, I say, I cannot do it, I get out; or I try to carry on in spite of those difficulties.

Now in the present situation, you will remember that only recently the Congress Working Committee has been talking a great deal about the Planning Commission. It has got its own Planning Committee and this Planning Committee held a planning conference and they passed a number of resolutions and laid down a certain policy, which was generally approved by the Working Committee. Now, naturally I consider myself bound in essentials with that larger policy laid down by the Planning Committee adopted by the Working Committee. Well with this approach Dr Matthai was not in entire sympathy, and that was the difference

of opinion.

...Now before I finish one or two words more. I want to make an appeal to the writers and the press and the readers of the press of Travancore. Travancore has, as I said, a highly literate population compared with the rest of India, and therefore, no doubt, newspapers have larger circulation or there are many of them, whichever it may be, and they no doubt influence opinion. Now it seems to me of the highest importance that newspapers in our country should be responsible. I do not object to a newspaper criticising or advocating any policy. But let it do so constructively and responsibly, and let it not indulge in personal invective. I say so because I am told there is a good deal of personal invective and all that kind of thing in some of the newspapers here. I am sorry to hear it. Because a free country must have a free press. That is essential. But a free press must necessarily be a responsible press and not act irresponsibly; otherwise it vitiates the freedom that you have got. So I hope those who run newspapers here, will pay some heed to what I have suggested, and the readers of newspapers will see to it that they do so....

[1] Mrs Achamma Matthai helped the Government of India in rehabilitation of women from 1947 to 1950 and the Bombay Government from 1951 to 1952.

[2] John Matthai said that owing to differences of opinion on certain fundamental principles and on matters of public policy, he had resigned from the Cabinet. “The next twelve months are going to be most crucial in the economic life of the country and it will not be in the interests of the country to embarrass the Government by making these differences public.”

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