A Tryst With Destiny Speech by J L Nehru: A Rhetorical Analysis 

Author- | Posted- | Updated: December 6, 2019 |
J L Nehru speaking before Indian Parliament.

Nehru’s Destiny Speech on India’s Independence

India’s independence from the British rule on 15th August 1947, marked a turning point in the nation’s history.  Prime Minister Nehru’s speech reminds of the values and ideals India has believed in for centuries. Freedom from the British rule marked the dawn of modern India and PM Nehru’s speech was key to the beginning of a new chapter in India’s history. Nehru refers to the post Independence era as a new adventure where there were new opportunities and responsibilities before him and his nation. The speech makes an appeal to the Indian masses that while there are challenges ahead, they should continue to believe in the message of Mahatma Gandhi and stay on course to a brighter future. Nehru had dreamt of a peaceful India where prosperity abounds and only unity, strength and courage could help the nation achieve its dream. At the auspicious moment of India’s independence, Nehru spoke about the several challenges the country was dealing with and the opportunities that will help it create higher economic growth. At a time when India had just freed itself from British rule, many challenges were standing in its way. The ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech is among the most famous speeches by one of the leading Indian politicians. On the one hand, it speaks of India’s centuries-old glory and on the other, a golden future that Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru dreamt of. Speaking from the Indian parliament, PM Nehru articulated his dream that encompassed every Indian and wished India’s happiness. India was to become what Gandhi wanted it to be; the rising star in the Eastern sky and the pride of the world. 

Ethos:

Ethos or ethical appeal in a speech or document depends upon the credibility of the speaker or the author.  Apart from the personal authority of the author or speaker, his character and role in the community, as well as outside sources, also add credibility to the document or speech. The personal authority of the speaker is one of the leading sources of credibility. Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of independent India. Known as a leader of the masses and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, he firmly believed in Gandhi’s principles of truth, non-violence, and unity. Nehru speaks with authority about the nation and its future. He was speaking at a time when India had just become free but was reeling under various tensions including social, political and communal. There was a major responsibility on his shoulders. India was undergoing one of the biggest transitions in its history and the British government had handed over the control of the Indian subcontinent to PM Nehru and his fellow politicians. 

 Nehru’s personal authority as the Indian Prime Minister and his image of a responsible and charismatic political leader is the main source of credibility or ethos in the speech. His stature in modern India as a political leader and a representative of the masses is taller than the others. This is the main source of ethical appeal in his speech. The speaker convinces the audience that it is a new beginning for a young nation that has taken its first step in the direction of prosperity and happiness. Another important source of credibility for the speech is the reference to Mahatma Gandhi whom Nehru considered the torchbearer of Indian struggle for independence. It might be difficult to walk the path Mahatma had showed the nation but India will keep returning to the ideals of truth and nonviolence to find the light. Nehru was also a man of strong character and while he was an educated leader who studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. After completing his graduation from there, he studied law at Inner Temple Inn, London. Nehru was well educated and far-sighted who knew India had the potential to change the world. He left his law practice at the Allahabad court to join national politics. 

Nehru was among the leaders closest to Mahatma Gandhi. His speech also bears a reflection of Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of a free and prosperous nation. For Nehru, India was to become the epitome of democratic values and economic freedom for the world. His trust in Indian culture and society is also visible in his words. Independence was a celebration and a door to new opportunities for higher economic equality and greater advancements. Nehru’s serious and educated outlook and his passion for creating an economically advanced India are also evident. Mahatma dreamt of seeing every Indian happy and Nehru wanted his dream to become a reality. The new India was Gandhi’s gift to the world, a star that will shine above their heads to guide them through adversity and other troubles that bother humanity. This was going to require tireless efforts from Indian people. Nehru credits India’s win to Mahatma’s noble leadership and other millions of ‘volunteers and soldiers’ who tirelessly followed him throughout the struggle.

Pathos:

Pathos is a persuasive technique used to draw an emotional response or connect with the audience’s emotions and convince it. Indian independence was an emotional moment for entire India and speaking from the Indian parliament, Nehru wanted to bring the nation’s attention towards the most pressing challenges and leading opportunities that were there ahead. Nehru was speaking before an audience of parliament members. However, his message was for the entire nation and Nehru knew the world was listening to the voice of modern India. The message he was trying to communicate to the world was that India had woken up and while it was independent now, this was just a beginning. As time progressed, India would rise to tackle bigger challenges. 

The focus of his speech was a peaceful future for India as Mahatma envisioned. Following the liberation of India, there was an environment of uncertainty and the world was interested in knowing which direction it would take in the future. Nehru wished to dispel any form of confusion and uncertainty through his words. The responsibility was on his shoulders since Mahatma Gandhi had rejected any political office or responsibility. As the newly elected leader of the masses and the largest political party of free India, his motive was to inspire people to follow the path that Mahatma Gandhi had showed the world. He began his speech with words filled with determination and hope. “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny..”. India had made major sacrifices throughout the freedom of struggle. Nehru could not help looking back at all that India had lost, but he wanted the world to know that the new India was filled with hope and it had sympathy and love for humanity. The course that Mahatma Gandhi had chosen for new India was the course of humanity and love. His tone grows intensely emotional as he approaches the middle of his speech. “Before the birth of freedom, we have endured all the pains of labor and our hearts are heavy with this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now.” Nehru wanted that India does not forget all the sacrifices it had made to attain freedom and that it values its liberty above everything. Achieving independence was a historic victory for India. However, Nehru’s words were serious and instead of growing euphoric about the win, he employs patience and control to remind people of the price India paid to achieve it. India had started on a new journey and there was a need to be patient to cover the distance to its destination. Nehru’s words also try to inspire the Indian masses to gather the same courage they demonstrated while fighting against the British because there was a bigger battle awaiting them. It was a battle against poverty, inequality of opportunity and income as well as other problems affecting the Indian society. Nehru was also pained at the separation since the pleasure of liberty would have doubled if the division of India had not taken place. In his speech, Nehru weighs several possibilities for India and how India would become a land of opportunities if it remained on its course. The ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech reflects so many feelings. There is happiness, hope, anxiety, excitement, pain, and euphoria in the speech. It contains every feeling that was related to India’s fight for freedom. Nehru used the moment to connect with the global audience and send them his best wishes. India was now an important player in the East and willing to cooperate with the world to create higher peace and unity among nations. The first Indian PM was familiar with the expectations his nation held of him and so he also took this opportunity to assure his people that this was the India of their dreams and the sacrifices they made to free it from foreign rule will be remembered for centuries. He uses pathos to convince the audience that Mahatma’s dreams held a special meaning and significance for the nation and the world. Free India will be a nation close to the world’s heart and will do its best to meet humanity’s expectations. Nehru’s sentiments were that of a father trying to teach a child how to walk. At that critical point of time, he wanted to convince Indians that they could reach their destination without abandoning the path that Mahatma Gandhi showed.

Logos:

Logos is the logical appeal in a speech, that a speaker uses to persuade his audience using logic or facts and figures. Nehru was among the most well-educated leaders in the Indian parliament at the time of independence. He had envisioned a brighter future for India and its people. Over the course of the speech, his focus remains on the social and economic opportunities and challenges before India. While India was in a difficult state at the time of freedom, it was still a large nation and full of opportunities. Being a passionate follower of Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru was always willing to handle questions on his behalf. Mahatma always advocated the service of humanity and India was going to dedicate itself to the true service of humanity. Gandhi and Nehru believed in the use of non-violence and other peaceful methods to create global harmony. Nehru wanted to bring the focus of the world back to the weapons India had used to defeat the British – non-violence and truth. If India kept on the right path, there were glorious days ahead. Nehru was aware that India was not the only country dealing with communal tensions or poverty and so he urges Indians to set an example through unity and peace. The reason he calls India’s peace indivisible is that partition had brought unrest and chaos but India had to stay united in the future. Nehru urged that Indians stay together as a coherent society and not bow to communal and narrow-minded forces trying to stop them from reaching their destination. Nehru reasons strongly in favor of peace and global unity since they would strengthen India’s democratic values. He had a brief stint as a lawyer but he abandoned his law practice to join India’s fight for liberty. His speech is hailed as one of the best in the history of India because while on the one hand, it demonstrates the leader’s strong willpower and resolution to overcome all hurdles, at the same time it is thought-provoking and brings attention to some of the simplest tools the world has at its dispense to create higher social harmony and peaceful growth.

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.