12 Jun 2012

PM's speech at the first meeting of the National Committee for Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Shri Motilal Nehru

Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh's speech at the first meeting of the National Committee for Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Shri Motilal Nehru: 

“I am happy to Chair this meeting of the National Committee to celebrate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Motilal Nehruji. The Committee will draw upon the intellectual resources of eminent people from different walks of life to celebrate the life and achievements of one of the most eminent figures of modern India. 

Motilal Nehruji was associated with the national freedom movement led by Indian National Congress from its early years. He was a member of the Congress Enquiry Committee that enquired into the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. This brought him into close contact with Mahatma Gandhi. 

Motilal Nehruji played a prominent role in the non-cooperation movement led by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921. The decision to participate in the movement brought about a radical change in Nehruji's lifestyle and he gave up the western way of living. He started wearing simple khadi clothes which had become the symbol of Gandhian nationalism in India. He also gave up his legal practice at the call of the Mahatma. 

Motilal Nehruji was a member of the committee which prepared the report on the national situation after the suspension of the non-cooperation movement. This report is a detailed and illuminating account of the non-cooperation movement and the manner in which the British Government sought to crush it. It is a valuable record of a very significant phase of the freedom movement in India. 

Motilal Nehruji, in association with Shri C.R. Das and other nationalist leaders, formed the Swaraj Party to give a new direction to the freedom struggle after the non-cooperation movement ended. The Swaraj Party under his leadership, sought to reform the newly framed constitution from within the councils. 

Motilal Nehruji authored the famous Nehru Report which was released by the All India Congress Committee in 1928. This Report represented a pioneering effort by the nationalist leadership to create a constitutional design for an independent and democratic India. It anticipated the key features of the Constitution prepared in 1950 after independence. The Report laid the foundation for a democratic system with adult suffrage, and cultural and religious rights for all. 

Motilal Nehruji presided over the Calcutta Congress in December 1928 and his presidential speech was a clarion call for unity among the different nationalist groups. This Congress session gave one year to the British to accept the demand for Dominion Status. His role in institution building, as Congress President in 1928 and as an elected legislator, are especially relevant in today's multi-party parliamentary democracy. 

The years 1929-1931 were a very crucial phase of the Indian freedom struggle in which Motilal Nehruji played a significant role. The Indian National Congress passed the Puma Swaraj resolution at its Lahore session in December 1929 followed by a mass Civil Disobedience Movement. Despite his ill health, Motilal Nehruji travelled to Jambosar in Gujarat to demonstrate his moral support for the salt satyagraha started by Gandhiji. The popular movement spread all over the country. Many Congress leaders and workers were put in jail. Motilal Nehruji had to shoulder the responsibility as Congress President till he too was arrested. In view of his ill health he was released in September 1930, a few months before he passed away. 

Motilal Nehruji did not live to see the day when India became free. But the leading role1 he played in national politics during the early stages of the Gandhian movement ensured that British rule over India would come to an end before long. He grew up as an admirer of British values and institutions but as the exploitative character of British rule unfolded before his eyes, he became a strong adversary of the Raj. He plunged into the struggle for freedom with a deep commitment and love for his country. 

Motilal Nehruji occupies a very special place in the history of our freedom struggle and we should make all efforts to honour his immense contributions. We have received a number of suggestions to celebrate the sesquicentennial year in a befitting manner. The Anand Bhavan at Allahabad and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library will play a leading role in these efforts. But we should try to associate other institutions, universities and organizations in the events and activities that we plan to organize. In particular, we should make special efforts to involve the youth of our country in the events, through use of modern communication media. 

The Government of India through the Culture Ministry will provide all support to these events. I hope that by the end of the year, we would be able to highlight the many facets and contributions of Motilal Nehruji as a legislator, philanthropist and a political thinker. 

These words I welcome you all to this meeting and look forward to a constructive discussion on how we can plan a commemoration of the 150th Anniversary year that will reflect the greatness of one of the founders of our nation.” 

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