August 1947 | JRD Tata | 3-minute read
Rare is the occasion when the people of a country are given to witness the close of an epoch in their history and the dawn of a new era of which they have dreamt, and for which they have longed, through generations of suffering.
Such a day is this, a day of rejoicing and thanksgiving, when the battle for freedom has been won, and our destiny, at long last, is once again in our hands.
In the midst of our joy, let us offer our homage to those who have fought and suffered through these long years, so that India may be free, and let us resolve to repay our debt to them in a manner worthy of their sacrifices and our new responsibilities.
As we rejoice, let us pause and understand what freedom means. Freedom is not a hollow catchword, or a mere emotion to be selfishly enjoyed as a gift. It does not merely mean political independence, for that is only the beginning of freedom. Nor is it a boon to be enjoyed by the few at the expense of the many. Our freedom will be complete and worth retaining only when it spells for all people, in the words of the great American President: “Freedom from fear and Freedom from want”. It is, therefore up to all of us, who, even in a small way, can help to reshape the destinies of India, to hold ourselves responsible to the millions of our unhappy countrymen who, today, lack even the necessities of life. For them, and for the unborn generations to come, let us strive to build a new India in which freedom will mean a better and happier life, equal rights and equal opportunities, and social justice for all.
It is, therefore up to all of us, who, even in a small way, can help to reshape the destinies of India, to hold ourselves responsible to the millions of our unhappy countrymen who, today, lack even the necessities of life.
We have overcome the crisis of a devastating war and of our own political problems, but as great a crisis is now upon us – the crisis of inflation and economic collapse which threatens to engulf us all. Its roots lie in the combination of increased purchasing power and dwindling production. Our people have more money to spend but less food, produce and goods on which to spend it. The slogan: “Produce or perish” applies to India even more than to Britain today. The output of almost everything that our country produces is steadily declining instead of rising, and the law of supply and demand is inexorably pushing up all prices. There is only one solution to our problem. We must produce more - more food, more cloth, more steel, more materials of all kinds to build the schools, the hospitals, the dams, the factories, the roads and the railways, and all those other things that are indispensable for the health and comfort, and the happiness and security of our people. If we fail, we shall also fail miserably in the immense task of building the new India of our dreams, and our dearly bought freedom will be turned into a sham and mockery.
Owing to the magnitude of the task and the urgency of mobilising the resources of the nation, our Government, through plans, controls and collective enterprise, has a significant role to play in the great battle of production, but victory can only come from the collective efforts of us all. Peasants and workers, employers and employees, management and staff, all must close their ranks and work for the good of all regardless of the selfish interests of the individuals or the group.
"I am proud to be a servant of this great Institution and to be associated with all of you in its service and its fellowship."
How do Tatas fit into this picture? The year that marks the independence of India also completes sixty years of their existence. They have been sixty years of service to India and her people. The fruits of their pioneering and enterprise are now held in trust for the benefit of the people. I am proud to be a servant of this great Institution and to be associated with all of you in its service and its fellowship.
Let us together harness its resources to the task of national reconstruction and development and thus play our part in creating the better land of which Tagore has sung: “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high.”
- JRD Tata
Image courtesy Tata Central Archives