Encourages the Indian nation in their efforts towards social reform. Is pleased that India has decided to continue as a member of the Commonwealth.
Farewell Message by Lord Pethick Lawrence
recorded at All India Radio, Calcutta on
21. 12. 57
My wife and I have spent a wonderful month in India. Kindness has been showered upon us in overflowing measure. The treasures of the past have been opened to us to see; and most interesting treasures they are! But what is even more important we have been given opportunities to learn what is beginning to be done to create the India of the future.
In the long years during which I have had close associations with India I have known much of your many problems. During this visit I have realised more than ever how great they are. I can well understand how easy it would be for you to sit down and say, “The obstacles to change and progress are too great. Let us not try to overcome them. Let us continue to live as we did in the past.”
But you are not saying this. You are saying instead “Now that we are in charge of our own destiny we must set our house in order and we must not lag behind other nations in getting rid of the evils in our midst.”
I come from a country where we have full employment and the Welfare State. As a result, the standard of life of our people is higher today than it has ever been before. There is no need for anyone to go hungry or to be without shelter and if he or she is taken ill or has an accident, skilled medical attention is available.
You have much unemployment and you have not the resources today to create the Welfare State. But in your five year plans you are taking steps to deal with both these things; and the best that I can do is to wish you well in your labours. Both you and I realise that it is an uphill task that will take all your resources and all your energies. You are getting, and, I am confident, you will continue to get help from other parts of the world on the material side but of course most of the energy and the skill must increasingly come from yourselves.
That is why I have been so heartened to learn of the great drive you are making to educate your children. The vastness of your population and the remoteness of many of your villages make this a stupendous task but it is an essential element of your progress.
I would like to tell you how strong is the pleasure in my country that you decided to stay a member of the Commonwealth. Many of us view with deep apprehension the hostile alignment to one another of the Great Powers. While we intend to remain loyal members of the United Nations none of us feel that it is wholly satisfactory. We believe that in the Commonwealth we have a society which is nearer to the pattern of the righ relationship of one country to another.
Of course even in the Commonwealth we do not always see eye to eye. But at any rate we consult together and we are in a position to discuss our differences in a friendly spirit. In Britain we naturally tend to look at the world from a European point of view. You as a great Asian Power have quite a different view point and the other members of the Commonwealth have theirs. We feel that that is a great source of strength not only for ourselves but for the world as a whole. Long may it continue!
But the prevailing impression which I carry back home with me is the very real friendliness that you have in India here towards me and my countrymen. This is something much warmer and much more enduring than mere courtesy and good manners. I know it represents your real feelings and because of that I go home very happy that I have come and that I have experienced it. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.