A primary source is a document from a specific periods of time; it can be a speech, letter, image, annal, government document, newspaper article, or journal entry.
The primary source you will be analyzing for this assignment is a speech transcript. This speech was made by independent India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Please read the speech carefully. Pay attention to the following:
- Speaker’s tone
- References to specific ideals and values
- Concepts of citizenship, ethics, responsibility, social justice
Speech: A Tryst With Destiny
Delivered by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
August 15th, 1947
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now that time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.
It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity with some pride.
At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries which are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her successes and her failures. Through good and ill fortunes alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortunes and India discovers herself again.
The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?
Freedom and power bring responsibility. That responsibility rests upon this assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.
That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we might fulfill the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity.
The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but so long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.
And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and people are too closely knit together today for anyone of them to imagine that it can live apart.
Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this One World that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.
To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.
The appointed day has come – the day appointed by destiny – and India stands forth again, after long slumber and struggle, awake, vital, free and independent. The past clings on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we have so often taken. Yet the turning point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about.
A new star rises, the star of freedom in the east, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materializes. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed by.
On this day our first thoughts go to the architect of this freedom, the father of our nation, who, embodying the old spirit of India, held aloft the torch of freedom and lighted up the darkness that surrounded us.We have often been unworthy followers of his and have strayed from his message. We shall never allow that torch of freedom to be blown out, however high the wind or stormy the tempest.
We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be.
We are citizens of a great country, on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations.
And to India, our much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our reverent homage and we bind ourselves afresh to her service.
- How did Nehru’s introduction frame the theme for the rest of the speech?
- Who is PM Nehru addressing, most broadly?
- What references are made to responsibility and concepts of citizenship?
- What does Nehru specifically talk about ending (for the betterment of India)?
- What tone does the speech conclude with?
- How does this speech tie into the broader global picture of decolonization and independence from imperial powers?
This writing assignment requires that you read a set of textual excerpts of speeches and statements from different political leaders regarding the role and status of women in society.
The objective of this activity is to reflect on the shifts concerning the roles and rights of women in the second half of the twentieth century and first decade of the twenty-first century, using primary sources from different political leaders who either passed legislation concerning women or provided influential social commentary on the role of women.
Excerpt #1: American President John F. Kennedy (1963)
I AM delighted today to approve the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits arbitrary discrimination against women in the payment of wages. This act represents many years of effort by labor, management, and several private organizations unassociated with labor or management, to call attention to the unconscionable practice of paying female employees less wages than male employees for the same job. This measure adds to our laws another structure basic to democracy. It will add protection at the working place to the women, the same rights at the working place in a sense that they have enjoyed at the polling place.
While much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity–for the average woman worker earns only 60 percent of the average wage for men–this legislation is a significant step forward.
Our economy today depends upon women in the labor force. One out of three workers is a woman. Today, there are almost 25 million women employed, and their number is rising faster than the number of men in the labor force.
It is extremely important that adequate provision be made for reasonable levels of income to them, for the care of the children which they must leave at home or in school, and for protection of the family unit. One of the prime objectives of the Commission on the Status of Women, which I appointed 18 months ago, is to develop a program to accomplish these purposes.
The lower the family income, the higher the probability that the mother must work. Today, 1 out of 5 of these working mothers has children under 3. Two out of 5 have children of school age. Among the remainder, about 50 percent have husbands who earn less than $5,000 a year–many of them much less. I believe they bear the heaviest burden of any group in our Nation. Where the mother is the sole support of the family, she often must face the hard choice of either accepting public assistance or taking a position at a pay rate which averages less than two-thirds of the pay rate for men.
Excerpt #2: Hillary Rodham Clinton (1995)
At this very moment, as we sit here, women around the world are giving birth, raising children, cooking meals, washing clothes, cleaning houses, planting crops, working on assembly lines, running companies, and running countries. Women also are dying from diseases that should have been prevented or treated. They are watching their children succumb to malnutrition caused by poverty and economic deprivation. They are being denied the right to go to school by their own fathers and brothers. They are being forced into prostitution, and they are being barred from the bank lending offices and banned from the ballot box.
Those of us who have the opportunity to be here have the responsibility to speak for those who could not. As an American, I want to speak for those women in my own country, women who are raising children on the minimum wage, women who can’t afford health care or child care, women whose lives are threatened by violence, including violence in their own homes.
Our goals for this conference, to strengthen families and societies by empowering women to take greater control over their own destinies, cannot be fully achieved unless all governments — here and around the world — accept their responsibility to protect and promote internationally recognized human rights. The — The international community has long acknowledged and recently reaffirmed at Vienna that both women and men are entitled to a range of protections and personal freedoms, from the right of personal security to the right to determine freely the number and spacing of the children they bear. No one — No one should be forced to remain silent for fear of religious or political persecution, arrest, abuse, or torture.
Tragically, women are most often the ones whose human rights are violated. Even now, in the late 20th century, the rape of women continues to be used as an instrument of armed conflict. Women and children make up a large majority of the world’s refugees. And when women are excluded from the political process, they become even more vulnerable to abuse. I believe that now, on the eve of a new millennium, it is time to break the silence. It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.
Now it is the time to act on behalf of women everywhere. If we take bold steps to better the lives of women, we will be taking bold steps to better the lives of children and families too. Families rely on mothers and wives for emotional support and care. Families rely on women for labor in the home. And increasingly, everywhere, families rely on women for income needed to raise healthy children and care for other relatives.
As long as discrimination and inequities remain so commonplace everywhere in the world, as long as girls and women are valued less, fed less, fed last, overworked, underpaid, not schooled, subjected to violence in and outside their homes — the potential of the human family to create a peaceful, prosperous world will not be realized.
Excerpts #3: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (2014)
A woman who abstains from maternity by saying ‘I am working’ means that she is actually denying her femininity. A woman who refuses maternity and gives up housekeeping faces the threats of losing her freedom. She is lacking and is a half [a person] no matter how successful she is in the business world.
Our religion has given women a stature, the position of motherhood. It lays heaven at mothers’ feet. The bottom of a mother’s feet should be kissed. A mother is something else. And its stature is unreachable.
Motherhood now is easy. You get a disposable diaper. Fold it, throw it away, get a new one and carry on. That’s the situation now. These days you see they say one (child) is enough, or two is enough. Make at least three, look the conditions have gotten easier. The country needs this.
No formula or anything like that. At least for a year and a half, and an average of two years, we will raise our kids with only mother’s milk. There is no gift from God greater than that. Family planning, birth control, these are not things that a Muslim family should consider. Whatever God says, whatever the prophet says, that is the road we must go down. The first duty here belongs to mothers.
Some people understand this and others don’t. For example you can’t explain this to feminists. They reject motherhood.
What women need is to have equivalence of worth rather than equality — in other words justice. You cannot make men and women equal,” he said. “That is against creation. Their natures are different. Their dispositions are different.
Excerpt #4: Iranian Leader Ayatollah Khamenei (2013)
Today, the Iranian woman can enter the field of science… while preserving the religion, chastity, piety, dignity, grace, personality and reverence of a typical Muslim woman. There are, among you, many female students, professors and scholars. A woman might also enter the field of religious sciences and information without any obstacles. Among you, there are many seminarians, students, instructors and professors of religious sciences who deal with Islamic fiqh and religious insight. Our great Imam [Khomeini] also highly regarded this issue and gave an order to establish this institute of Qom. Today a woman in our country is able to participate in different activities including politics, social and jihadi activities, helping people and the Revolution and appear in different fields while preserving her grace, dignity and Islamic hijab…
Write a three to four paragraph short-answer essay considering the following points:
- What are some of the similarities and differences regarding the role of women, as expressed by the political leaders above?
- Consider issues like education, work, parenting, family planning, political participation, etc.
- How are women described or treated as individuals, members of families, or members of society? How are the struggles and roles of women tied into broader social, economic, or political realities?
- How do cultural or religious beliefs factor into these statements about women’s roles?
- How are these perspectives either positive or negative for the social progress and general equality? What are some of the nuances or cultural differences detectable?