University of Southern California,
Los Angeles, February 3, 1948
Today my heart bleeds in a manner in which it has never bled before. As a citizen of the world, I consider it my solemn duty to try and convince people that our salvation lies in one world. We have to take the poignant choice between war and peace, between life and death. I am sure that everybody is aware of the fact that neither this world nor the world of tomorrow can survive another war.
If we look back on the dismal days of the past, we see nothing but horror and catastrophe staring us in the eye. Millions of lives have been destroyed; cities like London, Berlin and Stalingrad—metropolises half as old as time that have seen centuries go past their towers—are rubble and ashes. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were razed to the ground and, in spite of this destruction, we have not learnt our lesson; once again our political colossus is dangerously explosive, tenuously poised as it were. Hardly has the dust of the two atomized cities settled that already we have started afresh to destroy the remnants of our war-scarred and battered civilization.
For the sake of humanity, let us re-examine without prejudice the norm of our politics. Let us close the bloody chapters of war and engage ourselves in harmonising our people. Let us erase from our minds the crazy nation-centric notion leading to fanaticism and intolerance. It is inconceivable to the progressive mind to see the sheer accident of birth play so important a role in hindering universal peace. If we foolishly cling to our biased and bigoted ideas, we can never hope to find the path of eternal unity and, very soon, in the morning of our days„ our sun shall set. We have been miserably let down by our progenitors. Let us not follow in their footsteps and deceive the generations that follow us. Let us at least endeavor to penetrate this dense fog of the status quo and ease the task of the people of tomorrow.
History has clearly shown us that the doctrine of balance of power has proved unproductive in curbing war. We saw that it was far easier to create imbalance. After World War I the politicians of the day tried an experiment, but failed. The much-aggrandized League of Nations had little or no foundation to stand upon and its collapse was inevitable. Wilson’s fourteen points were thrown into the dustbin of history.
And, now again the politicians of our times are creating a structure which they hope will endure the strains of time. I sincerely pray for their success, but commonsense makes me feel skeptical. The architects of this structure are power-mad politicians, filled with hate and greed. The proceedings of the U.N.O. make me feel all the more uneasy. This august assemblage of celebrities is fast developing into a sham platform. Surely, we do not desire to base our ambitions and hopes on mockery. No, we require something more substantial. There has not been a single vital issue of any consequence that has been satisfactorily resolved by the U.N.O.
In short, the entire set-up is a race for supremacy between the two omnipotent nations while the rest of the world stands back in disgrace and helplessness to witness this titanic struggle. Sentiments of numerous nations have been ignored by this newly-created structure. It offers nothing but further antagonism and animosity among the peoples of the world. For selfish reasons, the two nations controlling the Assembly have deliberately ignored the interests of the weaker nations.
For instance, the problem of Iran was settled in a very ignoble fashion. At the cost of feeble Iran other nations enhanced their own wealth and left that little country poorer in the process. The brave and heroic people of Indonesia are appealing for the aid of the U.N.O. but a deaf ear has been turned to their cry. The essence of democracy has been belittled by the country proclaiming to be the child of democracy. The Palestine conflict has ensued on a large scale, but the U.N.O. has been incapacitated in dealing with the problem. On the contrary, it has merely added fl to the fire. India and Pakistan, at the crossroads of their history, are up against a stone wall over the issue of the princely state of Kashmir. India and Pakistan have both put forward their case before the U.N.O. and, so far, nothing worth mentioning has been decided. The future of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent should be of grave concern to all those who claim to be adherents of liberty, for that vast subcontinent is a world in itself.
I earnestly feel that we should halt this moribund pattern of our politics and rearrange our world in a revolutionary way. I have not come here to debate the merits and demerits of U.N.O. I have come to advocate one world—call it a Federation, call it a Confederation, call it what you may. But make sure that the weapon of our one world will not be the atomic bomb, but the weapon of love and where the creed should be that of simplicity—the simplicity which Prophet Mohammad expounded so effectively in the deserts of Arabia. In one world we shall not only eliminate wars which are the basic concern of civilization, but also offer the promise of a new economic and social order.
My appeal for one world is not to the politicians but to the common people of the world and in particular to students. Brother colleagues rally round our cause and unite: we have the whole world to gain and all that is in it. You and I will go steadfastly together carrying the torch of a new order, as harbingers of brotherhood. We shall derive the full benefits of our birthrights and live like decent human beings in freedom and equality.
At the moment we are in a perturbed state but I find my inspiration in the words of Tagore:
“Where the mind is without fear:
And the head held high,
Where knowledge is free,
Where the world has not been broken up into
fragments by narrow domestic walls,
Where the words come out of the depth of truth,
Where tireless striving stretches its arms
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost
its way into the dreary desert sands of dead habit,
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action,
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”