Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

Addressing Rabindra Nath Tagore at the laying of foundation of Mahajati Sadan

Today we assemble here to witness the beginning of the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream. Those who for years have toiled and suffered — laboured and sacrificed — so that India may be free, have long wished for an abode to provide shelter and protection for their activities and to serve as a visible symbol of their hopes and ideals — dreams and aspirations. More than once has the attempt been made to give us the home that we have wanted, but is has failed and it has been left to you to lay the foundation stone of the "House of the Nation." It is indeed a rare piece of fortune that we have you here in our midst this afternoon to sow with your hands the seed that will bear the fruit with which our nation will be nurtured in the days to come.

On this auspicious occasion we cannot help casting our eyes towards the past and the future of our people. From this soil sprang the movement that was at once the Reformation and the Renaissance of modern India. It was a movement which knew no provincial boundaries and which transcended the national frontier of India as well. Was not the message of Ram Mohan and Ram Krishna — a message for humanity? Was it not the voice of awakened India that spoke through them? We are the heirs of their spiritual and culture heritage and we are conscious of it.

The liberated soul of Modem India wanted to manifest itself in action, but found itself enchained by the state on the one side and society on the other. Then emerged the movement for the political and social emancipation of the Indian people. For this movement, our soil was not less fertile than it was for the earlier movement — the Reformation and Renaissance of Modern India.

Twenty years of agitation after the birth of the Indian National Congress in 1885, ushered in a new era in our political history — the age of self-help and self-reliance, of Swadeshi and Boycott. The pressure of governmental repression on the one side and of the Partition of Bengal on the other soon broke-down the walls of prudence and the maddened youths of India sought inspiration along another path — the path of armed revolt so well-known in history. Before the lapse of a decade, we again entered on a new age — the age of nonviolent non-cooperation and Satyagragha (or civil disobedience).

Today clouds have 'darkened our political firmament and the Congress stands at one of the cross-roads of history. Shall we hark back again to the days of Constitutionalism which we thought we had discarded in 1920. Or shall we continue along the path of mass-movement which ends in mass-struggle? I shall not enter into a controversy. I shall only say this that the awakened masses of India cannot give up the method of self-help and self-reliance, of mass-organisation and mass-struggle which has given them the success they have won and which will bring them the greater success that is yet to come. Above all, they cannot give up their birth-right of freedom for a sordid bargain with alien Imperialism.

Today our people dream not only of a free India, but also of an Indian State founded on the principles of justice and equality and of a now social and political order which will embody all that we hold noble and sacred. With the voice of eternity you, sir, have all along given passionate expression to the hopes and aspirations of our regenerate nation. Yours has been the message of undying youth. You have not only written poetry and produced art — but you have also lived poetry and art. You are not only India's poet but you are also the poet of humanity. Who can understand better than yourself what surges within us today as we assemble to witness the beginning of the fulfilment of a dream? Who else can perform this sacred ceremony for which we have gathered in your presence. Gurudev, we welcome you as the high-priest in today's national festival; proceed to lay with your hands the foundation stone of ''Mahajati Sadan." Give us your blessings so that we may be able to make this the "House of the Nation" — the living-centre of all those beneficial activities which will bring about the emancipation of the individual and of the nation, as well as the all-round development of India's manhood and nationhood. Bless us that we may hasten along the path that will lead to India's liberty and to our national self-fulfilment.