CHAPTER XXXIX
Independence and Consolidation

On the night of August 14, the eve of independence, Nehru, with his fine sense of the dramatic, addressed the following words to the tense Constituent Assembly:

"Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity."

These were noble words from a dedicated leader. There can have been few nations which set out on their course with finer ideals or more exalted leadership. How far have these words been realized in fact in the years which have supervened? Here the reader must be cautioned and perhaps disappointed. It is too early yet to give any but the most provisional of answers to this question. Our proximity to the tossing waves of events since 1947 is far too close for an appraisal of the deeper currents and the underlying groundswell. One cannot measure Atlantic currents and storm patterns from a rowboat close to the shore. All that can therefore be attempted is a broad and general survey of the next ten years, picking out what seem to be salient points and significant trends, matching the gems of personalities to the settings of events, aware all the time that developments of fundamental importance may have been missed, or the pivotal nature of some events misconstrued. In the same way the answers to all the contemporary questions which crowd into the mind can only be provisional and tentative. Will India go Communist? Will she strengthen or weaken her links with the West? Will traditional Hinduism revive or wither away or form new patterns with Western influences? What will be India's relationship to China and her position in Asia?

-419-

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