The honour of hosting what was perhaps the most memorable of the Congress annual sessions went to Lahore, Punjab's capital, and the honour of declaring 'Purn Swaraj' as the only honourable goal Indians could strive for went to Jawaharlal Nehru, the man who had done more than anyone else to popularise the idea. Gandhiji want Nehru to be president of INC but only three of the eighteen Provincial Congress Committees wanted Jawaharlal, but Gandhiji insisted and, as usual, got his way.
• Pandit Jawaharlal has everything to recommend him. He has for years discharged with singular ability and devotion the office of secretary of the Congress. By his bravery, determination, application, integrity and grit, he has captivated the imagination of the youth of the land. He has come in touch with labour and the peasantry. His close acquaintance with European politics is a great asset in enabling him to assess ours.
• To those who argued that he should take office himself because of the delicate nature of the negotiations he would have to conduct with other parties and the government, particularly on the Hindu-Muslim issue, he said: ‘So long as I retain the affection and confidence of our people, there is not the slightest danger of my not being able to make the fully impact without holding office.'
• Jawaharlal Nehru’s Presidential Address was a stirring call to action: ‘We have now an open conspiracy to free country from foreign rule and you, comrades, and all our countrymen and countrywomen are invited to join it.”
• Nehru also made it known that in his view liberation did not mean only throwing off the foreign yoke: ‘I must frankly confess that I am a socialist and a republican, and am no believer in kings and princes, or in the order which produces the modern kings of industry, who have greater power over the lives and fortunes of men than even the kings of old, and whose methods are as predatory as those of the old feudal aristocracy.”
• He also spelt out the methods of struggle: ‘Any great movement for liberation today must necessarily be a mass movement, and mass movements must essentially be peaceful, except in times of organised revolt. . . And if the principal movement is a peaceful one, contemporaneous attempts at sporadic violence can only distract attention and weaken it.”
• The tricolour flag of Indian independence was unfurled on the banks of the river Ravi at midnight on December 31, 1929, amid cheers and jubilation. In the midst of the excitement, there was also a grim determination that the coming year would be a difficult one.
• The Congress and the Indian people's first task in the New Year were to organise public meetings across the country on January 26th, at which the Independence Pledge would be read and collectively affirmed. This programme was a huge success, and the pledge was read out in the local language and the national flag was hoisted in villages and towns, at small and large gatherings.
The following is the full text of the pledge:
‘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 Purn Swaraj or Complete Independence.
‘India has been ruined economically. The revenue derived from our people is out of all proportion to our in¬come. Our average income is seven pence, less than two pence, per day, and of the heavy taxes we pay, twenty per cent are raised from the land revenue derived from the peasantry and three 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. The British manufactured goods constitute the bulk of our imports. Customs duties betray clear partiality for British manufacturers, 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 ratio 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 ex¬pression of opinion and free association have been denied to us, and many of our countrymen are compelled to live in exile abroad and they cannot return to their homes. All administrative talent is killed, and the mass¬es have to be satisfied with petty village offices and clerkships. ‘Culturally, the system of education has torn us from our moorings; 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 defence against foreign aggression, or defend our homes and families from the at¬tacks 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 four-fold disaster to our country. We recognize, however, that the most effective way of gaining our freedom is not through violence. We will 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 help, 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 Poorna Swaraj.’