Poorna Swaraj Resolution & Declaration of Independence

Before the constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950, two big laws enacted by British were the Government of India Act 1935 and Indian Independence Act 1947. Both of these laws were repealed as per Article 395 of the present constitution on 26 November 1949, the day on which the constituent assembly of India enacted our constitution.

However, we Indians did not get the opportunity to frame our own constitution overnight. Those were the days when major decisions about the fate of Indian people were taken in London. For at least 100 years there was a gradual awakening and it was the unexpressed desire of the people India to write their own basic law of the land. In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi, while explaining the meaning of Swaraj had indicated that the Constitution of India would be drafted by Indians. This was probably the first expressed intention, regarding the Indians made constitution for Indian people.

Six year later, in 1928, for the first time a constitution for India was drafted by Nehru Committee that was headed by Moti Lal Nehru. A year later, in the Lahore session of December 1929, Congress passed the Poorna Swaraj resolution. It was the same session in which Jawaharlal Nehru was elected as president of the Congress. This 41 years old anglophile, aristocratic, and only son of Motilal Nehru had dedicated all his energy for the national movement and was youngest president of Congress till that time. He later emerged as Gandhi’s designated successor to congress leadership.

Here, please note that though the congress passed the Poorna Swaraj Resolution in December 1929, it was a month later on January 26, 1930, when a Pledge of Indian Independence also known as Declaration of Independence was taken.  You must note here that while the Poorna Swaraj Resolution was drafted by Jawaharlal Lal Nehru, the “Declaration of Independence” pledge was drafted by Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 and it echoed the essence of American Declaration of Independence. After this pledge January 26, 1930 was declared as Independence Day by Indian National Congress.

The “declaration of Independence” expresses the pain and pity of the people of India, highlights the Indian grievances against British. It reads as follows:

We believe that it is the inalienable right of the Indian people, as of any other people, to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil and have the necessities of life, so that they may have full opportunities of growth. We believe also that if any government deprives a people of these rights and oppresses them the people have a further right to alter it or to abolish it. The British Government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of the masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally, and spiritually. We believe, therefore, that India must sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj, or complete independence.

India has been ruined economically. The revenue derived from our people is out of all proportion to our income. Our average income is seven pice (less than twopence) per day, and of the heavy taxes we pay, 20 per cent are raised from the land revenue derived from the peasantry and 3 per cent from the salt tax, which falls most heavily on the poor.

Village industries, such as hand-spinning, have been destroyed, leaving the peasantry idle for at least four months in the year, and dulling their intellect for want of handicrafts, and nothing has been substituted, as in other countries, for the crafts thus destroyed.

Customs and currency have been so manipulated as to heap further burdens on the peasantry. British manufactured goods constitute the bulk of our imports. Customs duties betray clear partiality for British manufactures, and revenue from them is used not to lessen the burden on the masses but for sustaining a highly extravagant administration. Still more arbitrary has been the manipulation of the exchange ration, which has resulted in millions being drained away from the country.

Politically, India’s status has never been so reduced as under the British regime. No reforms have given real political power to the people. The tallest of us have to bend before foreign authority. The rights of free expression of opinion and free association have been denied to us, and many of our countrymen are compelled to live in exile abroad and cannot return to their homes. All administrative talent is killed, and the masses have to be satisfied with petty village offices and clerkships.

Culturally, the system of education has torn us from our moorings, and our training has made us hug the very chains that bind us.

Spiritually, compulsory disarmament has made us unmanly, and the presence of an alien army of occupation, employed with deadly effect to crush in us the spirit of resistance, has made us think that we cannot look after ourselves or put up a defense against foreign aggression, or even defend our homes and families from attacks of thieves, robbers, and miscreants.

We hold it to be a crime against man and God to submit any longer to a rule that has caused this fourfold disaster to our country. We recognize, however, that the most effective way of gaining our freedom is through Non-violence. We will therefore prepare ourselves by withdrawing, so far as we can, all voluntary association from the British Government, and will prepare for civil disobedience, including non-payment of taxes. We are convinced that if we can but withdraw our voluntary held and stop payment of taxes without doing violence, even under provocation, the end of this inhuman rule is assured. We therefore hereby solemnly resolve to carry out the Congress instructions issued from time to time for the purpose of establishing Purna Swaraj.

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