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No piece of public oratory in the history of independent India is perhaps more widely quoted and repeated than Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous Tryst With Destiny address delivered at around midnight on 15 August 1947.

The speech is often included in anthologies of great speeches. And more than any other day of the year it is remembered today, India’s independence day.

However, some of the most popular versions of this speech available online are also somewhat inaccurate. The version published on Wikipedia’s entry for the speech, sourced from a link on The Guardian newspaper’s website, actually combines both Nehru’s original speech to the constituent assembly, and another message that was not part of the original oration.

This second portion, that starts with the words, “The appointed day has come—the day appointed by destiny—and India stands forth again, after long slumber and struggle…" was actually a message to the people of the country from Nehru that appeared in newspapers all over India on the morning of 15 August 1947.

The Tryst With Destiny address was meant to be a call to arms to the members of the constituent assembly. Indeed in this address Nehru only speaks to the Indian public in the very last portion of there lines: “To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill-will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell."

The message to the press, on the other hand, is directly delivered to the people of the young nation still in turmoil.

In addition to these two messages, Nehru also prepared a short message to Indians living abroad.

“To-day is a fateful moment in history for India, for all Asia, indeed for the entire world. After long years of suffering and sacrifice, India attains her freedom and independence. A new star rises, the star of freedom in the East. A new hope fills the world.

On this day of liberation, the motherland sends her affectionate greetings to her children abroad. She calls them to her service and to the service of freedom wherever they might be. Every Indian abroad is a representative of India and must ever remember that he has the honour of his country in his keeping. That is a proud privilege and responsibility. None of India’s children, wherever they be, may submit to anything which is against national self-respect or against the cause of freedom. They must preserve their own freedom at all costs and respect the freedom of others."

Things get even more interesting. According to the official online archives of the constituent assembly debates, Nehru delivered two versions of his speech that night. The first in Hindustani. And then the oft-quoted one in English.

Nor was Nehru the only member of the constituent assembly to deliver superb speeches on that fateful midnight in Delhi.

Before Nehru, president of the assembly, Rajendra Prasad spoke at length. This speech included these great lines that exude confidence and a certain sense of India’s place in the world.

“Let us then assure all countries of the world that we propose to stick to our historic tradition to be on terms of friendship and amity with all. That we have no designs against any one and hope that none will have any against us. We have only one ambition and desire, that is, to make our contribution to the building up of freedom for all and peace among mankind."

Nehru’s speech, it was really a motion that was presented before the assembly, was followed by speeches by Chaudhari Khaliquzzaman and S. Radhakrishnan, a future president of the republic. The former would eventually move to Pakistan and later become a governor of East Bengal.

Radhakrishnan’s speech is powerful. If Nehru spoke about the assembly’s place on the cusp of a great moment in history, Radhakrishnan warned against complacency.

“Our opportunities are great but let me warn you that when power outstrips ability, we will fall on evil days. We should develop competence and ability which would help us to utilise the opportunities which are now open to us. From tomorrow morning…from midnight today we cannot throw the blame on the Britisher. We have to assume the responsibility ourselves for what we do. A free India will be judged by the way in which it will serve the interests of the common man in the matter of food, clothing, shelter and the social services. Unless we destroy corruption in high places, root out every trace of nepotism, love of power, profiteering and black-marketing which have spoiled the good name of this great country in recent times, we will not be able to raise the standards of efficiency in administration as well as in the production and distribution of the necessary goods of life."

It is a message that resonates across the decades with thundering import.

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