Sunday, November 24, 2013


Contemporary Indian history cannot complete without a mention of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, his work and vision. He was a fearless leader, deft organizer, great freedom fighter, administrator, statesman and a visionary. His role in nation-building remains extraordinary till date and will remain so for all times to come. Sardar Patel’s sharp political acumen enabled him to accomplish the impossible and he worked tirelessly for his motherland till his last breath.               
Sardar Patel spearheaded India’s fight for freedom under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. His contribution in making the Congress a strong organization by mobilizing masses into its fold and engaging them in constructive work remains unique to this day.   
Immediately after independence he played a vital role in reorganizing administrative structure of India; for he established the two All India levels services namely, the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service. Further, his role in making the Constitution of India as Jan Samvidhan [People’s Constitution] is praiseworthy. He was the Chairman of three important committees which recommended for provisions for the Indian Constitution, namely: the Fundamental Rights’ Committee, the State Constitution Committee and the Committee for Minorities. Partition of undivided India into two nations created serious problems of law and order. Patel took these problems head on resolved them with amazing felicity. Migration of population and relief and rehabilitation of those who were coming from the parts of newly established nation of Pakistan were the most daunting of challenging facing Sardar Patel. Once the border lines were established, about 14.5 million people crossed over to the nation of their choice. From India 7, 226, 000 people went to Pakistan, and from Pakistan 7, 250, 000 people moved to India after the announcement of division. This cross migration was a huge task and Sardar Patel worked day and night to deliver goods. In the process he took some out of the box decisions and implemented them with iron hand. This saved the Indian nation in many ways.
In brief, the accomplishments made by Sardar Patel in a short period of less than four years [1947 to 1950] have no parallel in the entire Indian history. Perhaps such examples are not available even in world history. Dedication for the nation, sincerity and vision were his hallmarks. Whenever and wherever necessary, he took lightening decisions with great foresight, keeping national interest first and foremost. Hence the opening sentence of this presentation that without Sardar Patel the history of contemporary India is not complete.
Above all the most herculean and astonishing task that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel accomplished was the vast political integration of India, which is unprecedented in the annals of India’s long and chequered history.
In fact, soon after his arrival as the last British Viceroy to India, Lord Mountbatten announced the independence of the country along with its partition into two –India and Pakistan on June 3, 1947. This partition was slated to be completed by August 15, 1947. The most important and challenging task before India then was the geographical integration of the country. Around 560 odd and scattered princely states consisting of total area of 6, 00, 000 square miles were to be merged into the Union of India in a short period of just 72 days, i.e. by August 14, 1947 and that too in a volatile socio-political situation. There were four major problems that India faced at that point of time:
·                     Newly created Pakistan’s policy of grabbing as many states as possible by taking advantage of flux situation was a great threat to India’s territorial integrity. Pakistan pined for States of Junagarh and Hyderabad most obtrusively. Jinnah’s move of bargaining with the rulers of states, especially of Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, was also inimical to India’s interests;
·                      Separatist forces which desired India to be a weak nation had started so-called people’s movements in the name of religion and regional identity. This was most evident from incidents in Punjab and northeastern parts of the country;
·                      Most of the officials in the higher echelons of government services were English who had already left for their native place. Therefore, administration was inefficient and phlegmatic at the most critical hours of the nascent freedom; and
·                     False vanity of some of the rulers of states to maintain their own separate kingdoms, as evident from their moves and misdeeds, was impeding the process of integration.                    
In such a situation, seventy-two years old Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, without caring much of his health, took the challenge of a gigantic task with indomitable courage and firm determination. He asserted emphatically, “Now, when we have arrived at the door of long-awaited freedom, we cannot take any more risk for our nation –cannot compromise for its unity and integrity.”    
He worked day and night and finally accomplished the much-awaited task of political integration of India in a short period, that too largely in an atmosphere of harmony, co-ordination and co-operation. The name of VP Menon is worthy of mention here as member of Patel’s dedicated team of workers. It was undoubtedly a task that has no parallel in the world history. Dr. Rajendra Prasad had rightly said, “The great tasks that Vallabhbhai Patel accomplished have no other example in the history of our nation, and not even in the history of other nations of the world.”
 India was never ever integrated politically to such a large scale in colonial as well as pre-colonial period of her history. Even after the division that carved out a new nation Pakistan out of it, India remains largest politically integrated land mass ever in her long history of ups and downs. For this, undoubtedly, the credit goes exclusively to the mature and razor sharp statesmanship of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
The State of Junagarh [comprising of total area of 3336 square miles] came within the fold of the Indian Union due to Sardar’s able and exemplary non-violence-based diplomacy while the State of Hyderabad [containing area of 1, 00, 465 square miles in total, equivalent of France] became a part of India on sheer strength of  his unwavering political will. The State of Jammu and Kashmir [holding total 84, 471 square miles of area] became part of India only due Sardar Patel’s policy of implementing political decisions into quick action.       
India must be a strong nation and it should be safe internally and externally, both. Each and every citizen should contribute towards unity, integrity and development of the nation.  Everyone must get equal opportunity to rise. Along with this, there should be no compromise with nation’s unity and security. All activities related to separatism, segregation and regionalism are dangerous. They should not be allowed. Rather, they should be met with firm and speedy action. All efforts should be made towards this end by overcoming of differences of ideas and perceptions with the spirit of national unity. This was Sardar’s socio-political approach. In his own words, “No one would be permitted to try to damage the unity, security and integration of India. People and organizations indulging in separatist activities should control themselves and get into the mainstream as soon as possible. If they do not do so then there would be no hesitation in taking hard steps against them.”

On the basis of his sanguine nationalist ideas Sardar Patel could integrate India, which would be remembered by his compatriots for long time to come. Moreover, we can learn a lot from his ideas and work-ethos to keep India united and find our due place at international level, and trough this to contribute to peace and prosperity all over the world.

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