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RSTV: IN DEPTH- SARDAR PATEL


RSTV: IN DEPTH- SARDAR PATEL


Introduction:

            To commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel, the nation is observing 31st October as ‘Rashtriya Ekta Diwas’ or National Unity Day. It is a day when we reinforce our dedication to preserve and strengthen unity, integrity and security of the nation. Born on October 31st, 1875 at Nadiad in Gujarat, Sardar Patel was India’s first Home Minister. To him belongs the legacy of merging over 560 princely states into the Union of India. As part of celebrations, various programs were organised across the country, recalling Sardar Patel’s contribution to the unification of India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi administered the national unity pledge at the Statue of Unity at Kevadia in Gujarat. He also reminded the nation that Jammu and Kashmir is being bifurcated into two Union Territories on this day marking the end of Article 370 and ending the political isolation of the state. Other leaders including Home Minister Amit Shah flagged off Unity Runs on the occasion.

 

Sardar Patel:

  • Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel (31 October 1875 – 15 December 1950), popularly known as Sardar Patel, was an Indian politician.
  • He served as the first Deputy Prime Minister of India.
  • He was an Indian barrister, a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and a founding father of the Republic of India who played a leading role in the country’s struggle for independence and guided its integration into a united, independent nation.
  • In India and elsewhere, he was often called Sardar, meaning “chief” in Hindi, Urdu, and Persian.
  • He acted as Home Minister during the political integration of India and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.
  • Patel was raised in the countryside of the state of Gujarat. He was a successful lawyer.
  • He subsequently organised peasants from Kheda, Borsad, and Bardoli in Gujarat in non-violent civil disobedience against the British Raj, becoming one of the most influential leaders in Gujarat.
  • He was appointed as the 49th President of Indian National Congress, organising the party for elections in 1934 and 1937 while promoting the Quit India Movement.
  • As the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India, Patel organised relief efforts for refugees fleeing to Punjab and Delhi from Pakistan and worked to restore peace.
  • He led the task of forging a united India, successfully integrating into the newly independent nation those British colonial provinces that had been “allocated” to India.
  • Besides those provinces that had been under direct British rule, approximately 565 self-governing princely states had been released from British suzerainty by the Indian Independence Act of 1947.
  • Threatening military force, Patel persuaded almost every princely state to accede to India.
  • His commitment to national integration in the newly independent country was total and uncompromising, earning him the sobriquet “Iron Man of India”.
  • He is also remembered as the “patron saint of India’s civil servants” for having established the modern all-India services
  • He is also called the “Unifier of India”.
  • The Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest statue, was dedicated to him on 31 October 2018 which is approximately 182 metres (597 ft) in height.

 

Contribution:

  • Played key role in selecting and financing candidates for upcoming elections in 1934, 1936.
  • Didn’t want party to be distracted from goal of complete independence.
  • Integrating India:
    • When India  became independent in 1947, Sardar Patel took over the role as a deputy PM at a time when Indian history was in a very critical stage.
    • In a truly masterful display of statesmanship, Sardar Patel ensured a smooth integration of the troubled domains by not allowing the situation to deteriorate into civil unrest. There was neither bloodshed nor any kind of rebellion as he went about the task of building a strong India with a missionary zeal.
    • He played an important role in bringing the 565 self-governing princely states and territories into the Indian federation.
    • Adopting different approaches as warranted by the situation, he gave friendly advice in some cases, persuaded the rulers to see reason in others and even used force as in the case of Hyderabad 
    • He drew a new map of India with every princely State being a part of the Indian union and thus, paved the way for cultural unity and harmony.
    • 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.
  • Civil services in Independent India:
    • According to many, the actual acknowledgment for the formation of the Indian Civil Service in free India goes to Sardar Patel. His argument led to form a groundwork for Unified National Administration. Patel had the vision to create a strong and vibrant administrative system
  • Concern about border security:
    • Patel conceptualized some of the greatest policies to keep India secured from border countries’ attack. He wanted India to focus on :-
      • The need for strengthening defense force.
      • Examining and reshuffling the military position in various borders.
      • Strengthening Northern and North-Eastern frontier.
      • Improvement of transport and communication in these border areas.
    • The roots of Amul can be traced back to his vision for empowering local communities, particularly women. It was Sardar Patel who also popularized the idea of cooperative housing societies, thus ensuring dignity and shelter for man
    • Patel’s lasting contribution was protecting the Indian constitution from the ogre of communal electorates.
    • He was a major driving force behind the liberal industrial policy resolution of 1948.
    • Patel was among the few to see the dangers from China’s imminent takeover of Tibet.

 

Sardar Patel: The Unifier

  • Sardar Patel called upon rulers to show their patriotic spirit.
  • Patel asked princely states to merge with independent India and behave responsibly.
  • Jammu and Kashmir
    • Hindu ruler Hari Singh tried to negotiate with India & Pak to have an independent status for his state.
    • Since majority population of the state was Muslim, the Pakistan thought Kashmir ‘belonged‘ to them.
    • On 15th August Harisingh offered standstill agreement with both countries which allowed the free movement of people & goods.
    • Pakistan signed the agreement but India didn’t.
    • Pakistan became impatient & started violating standstill agreement.
    • 24th October Hari Singh demanded military assistance from India.
    • Mountbatten pointed out that under international law India can send its troops only after state signs a formal instrument of accession
    • Thus on 26th Oct Maharaja signed instrument of accession which got ratified in 1954.
    • On 27th Oct. morning nearly 100 planes airlifted men and weapons to Srinagar.
    • Pakistan army left the main valley region but continue to occupy a large chunk of territory of Gilgit, Baltistan region – Pak occupied Kashmir.
  • Hyderabad
    • Communal riots break out in Hyderabad.
    • Largest princely state of India which was ruled by Nizam
    • Nizam led to tyrannical ways & aspired to set up a Muslim dominion rather than integration with India
    • He wanted an independent status for Hyderabad & thus entered into negotiation of standstill agreement with India
    • Meanwhile people revolted against Nizam’s rule, particularly the peasants of Telangana due to his worst oppression measures.
    • Nizam retaliated on popular movement by unleashing a para-military force
    • 150,000 soldiers were mobilized by Nizam to fight against the Indian Union
    • They murdered, maimed, raped and looted, targeting particularly the non-Muslims
    • In Sep 1948, Indian army under operation Polo invaded Hyderabad state & overthrew its Nizam, annexing the state merged it into the Indian Union.
  • Manipur
    • Indian government was prepared to be flexible in giving autonomy to some regions.
    • Maharaja of Manipur signed the instrument of Accession with the Indian government on the assurance that the internal autonomy of Manipur would be maintained.
    • Under the pressure of public view, Maharaja held elections in Manipur in June 1948 & thus state became a constitutional monarchy.
    • Manipur was the 1st part of India to hold an election based on universal adult franchise.
    • Government of India succeeded in pressurizing the Maharaja into signing a Merger Agreement in September 1949, without consulting the popularly elected Legislative Assembly of Manipur.
    • This caused a lot anger and resentment in Manipur, the consequences of which are still being felt.

 

Statue of Unity:

  • At 182 metre, the statue is 23 metre taller than China’s Spring Temple Buddha statue and almost double the height of the Statue of Liberty (93 metre tall) in US.
  • Located on the Sadhu Bet island, near Rajpipla on the Narmada river, the Statue of Unity is located between the Satpura and the Vindhya mountain ranges.
  • The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET), a special purpose vehicle set up by Modi in 2011, arranged some 129 tonnes of iron implements from nearly 100 million farmers in 169,000 villages across all states to construct the base of the statue in the ‘Loha’ campaign.
  • The Statue of Unity was brought to fruition by Padma Bhushan-winning sculptor Ram V Sutar and intricate bronze cladding work was done by a Chinese foundry, the Jiangxi Toqine Company (JTQ).

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