Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge…. 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…. Tryst With Destiny, J. Nehru. With these tumultuous words Nehru ushered in Independence at the stroke of midnight. Despite the foreboding among many, festivities were on in full swing. Prior to Nehru’s iconic speech a special function had been arranged at the residence of Rajendra Prasad with pundits sprinkling holy water on Nehru and Rajendra Prasad lending a ceremonial Hindu tinge to the festivities. At 11 the special Constituent Assembly began its special midnight session culminating in Nehru’s speech.
Despite the contrived cheerfulness, there was no wishing away the fact that the new nation faced a myriad problems which seemed insurmountable. Gyanesh Kud-aisiya’s fine book sets out to enquire the innovative ways in which the new nation and its leaders faced up to these challenges. It argues that the 1950s ending effectively with the Chinese War in 1962 proved to be a defining decade as the young nation had to grapple with a host of issues.