Insights into Editorial: The unifier of modern India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Statue of Unity – the world’s tallest statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, in Gujarat’s Kevadiya, on Patel’s birth anniversary.
He became one of the most influential leaders in Gujarat as he organised the peasants of Kheda, Borsad, and Bardoli in Gujarat in a non-violent civil disobedience movement against oppressive policies imposed by the British Raj.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, popularly known as the Iron Man of India, one of the most influential personalities to have fought for Independence, Sardar Patel was born in Gujarat, on October 31, 1875.
Hence, the day is celebrated as his birth anniversary and is also observed as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas or National Unity Day.
Remembering Sardar Patel’s stupendous role in integrating the princely States into independent India.
Iron Man Force behind unification:
Sardar Patel’s foresight and tactful navigation of the most turbulent period in post-Independence, and the resolve he demonstrated in integrating the more than 500 disparate princely States (565 around) into the Dominion of India is an unparalleled accomplishment in modern history.
Hailing Patel’s feat, Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, had said: “By far the most important achievement of the present government is the unification of the States into the Dominion of India.
Patel was a statesman with a strong sense of realpolitik, a realist to the core and an earthy politician whose sole aim was to build a strong and united India.
Patel’s wisdom, foresight, patriotism, tact, persuasive powers and abiding commitment to fair play enabled him to untangle a highly complex political and social problem without triggering any kind of revolt or civil unrest.
The limited scope of the Instruments of Accession and the promise of a wide-ranging autonomy and the other guarantees they offered.
It gave sufficient comfort to many rulers, who saw this as the best deal they could strike given the lack of support from the British, and popular internal pressures.
The biggest problems, however, arose with a few border states, such as Jodhpur, which tried to negotiate better deals with Pakistan, with Junagadh, which actually did accede to Pakistan, and with Hyderabad and Kashmir, which declared that they intended to remain independent.
Use of coercion when needed by launching ‘Operation Polo’:
Patel was also compelled to use coercion by launching ‘Operation Polo’ to liberate and integrate Hyderabad after the Nizam of Hyderabad entertained false hopes of either joining Pakistan or remaining independent.
In a swift operation lasting five days, Hyderabad State was liberated in September 1948. It was the most critical time when the country’s political unity was in jeopardy, India found the man of the moment in Sardar Patel.
He displayed amazing patience, tact and a steely determination in dealing with an intransigent ruler, who refused to see the writing on the wall and even wanted to take the issue to the United Nations.
Displaying statesmanship of the highest order, Sardar Patel prevented the attempts to not only Balkanise India but internationalise the issue as well.
The complicated case of Junagarh, Gujarat, was also handled with dexterity by Patel. The problem of Jammu and Kashmir may have been resolved long back had Sardar Patel been given a free hand to handle it at that time.
The Man of Integrity with “Nation First” Slogan stand as an Architect of the steel frame:
The Iron Man of India was the chief architect of India’s steel frame, the civil services. Thus, the All India Services were seen as an important cementing force in promoting the unity and integrity of the nation.
He readily accepted the Mahatma Gandhi’s advice to withdraw his candidacy for the post of Congress President in favour of Pandit Nehru in 1946, although a majority of State Congress committees supported his candidature.
It once again proved his noble intention of placing the country’s interests above self.
His love for the motherland was best described by Maulana Azad when he said: “He made his choice out of two courses that come before a man, namely would he live for his country or for himself? Sardar chose his country.”
It is in the fitness of things that the National Police Academy (IPS Trainee- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy) located on the outskirts of Hyderabad, Telangana, is named after him, as a tribute to the statesman.
“By common endeavour we can raise the country to a new greatness, while a lack of unity will expose us to fresh calamities.”
These pragmatics but profound remarks defined the vision and the sterling character of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the principal unifier of modern India.
Our Duty: Making Sardar Patel dreams into Reality:
The ‘Statue of Unity’ is a symbol of both the unity of hearts and the geographical integrity of our motherland.
It is a reminder that divided, we may not be even able to face ourselves. United, we can face the world and scale new heights of growth and glory.
Sardar Patel worked with astonishing speed to dismantle the history of imperialism and create the geography of unity with the spirit of nationalism. He saved India from Balkanization and integrated even the weakest of limbs into the national framework.
Today, we, the 130 crore Indians are working shoulder to shoulder to build a New India that is strong, prosperous and inclusive.
Every decision is being taken to ensure that the fruits of development reach the most vulnerable, without any corruption or favouritism, just as Sardar Patel would have wanted it.