Published on November 2nd, 2018 | by Sandeep Patil0
Sardar Patel – One Man and 550+ Kingdoms
In 1871, a German statesman, ‘Otto von Bismarck‘ united 26 German states into a German Empire, which laid foundations of what we see today as “The Republic of Germany”. Bismarck is rightfully hailed as founder or architect of modern Germany.
About 75 years later, in 1947, in some other corner of world, another political figure achieved something that would have made Bismarck proud, if not left awestruck!
This man integrated as many as 565 … I repeat, 565 states… together in the fold of united India! At the moment of getting Independence, Mother India was lucky to have her loyal son, Sardar Vallabh-bhai Patel at the right place, in the right time.
In a way, he is Father of Nation … but that honour belongs rightfully to Mahatma Gandhi… Patel’s personal hero.
The other great son of India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, as well got due honour, acknowledgement and love from this nation.
It was Patel, who remained somewhat forgotten. Today I am happy that something monumental has been erected in remembrance of the monumental tasks he once achieved for his motherland! He deserved something ‘tallest’ and ‘towering’ – like he was.
Today is not a day of speaking cheap things like BJP vs. Congress or ungrateful things like wastage of money over a Monument. There are people who make their intellectual livings debating these petty things and while they indulge in their rhetoric, let us ordinary people take a break from our busy lives and remain quietly with the grandness of the monument… and try to understand the greatness of the person who commanded this respect!
We all regret partition of India during 1947… it was a strong blot over our freedom struggle. However, we somehow do not attach enough importance to the fact that far much worse could have happened! Rather than having a three way partition, the country could have been split into – who knows – 10-20 pieces. In fact the word balkanization wouldn’t have existed, instead it would have been Indianization!
Imagine the Indian sub-continent full of big-small nations… Some Hindu, some Islamic, some Secular, some communists…. Some states having allegiance with Russia, some with USA… some have provided their territory to NATO for making their air-bases, some are partnering with China in the project of forming a South-Asian-Economic-Corridor (similar to present CEPC). A regime of diversity and chaos without any central authority… any possible riot somewhere could have easily led to a civil war…!!!
The possibilities are endless – but they don’t just end here in terms of territorial conflicts. In British India there were separate electorates for Muslims (link). As it was clear that India will soon get her Independence, some other minority communities also started hoping for separate electorate for their own. It was the vision and determination of Sardar Patel (and Congress in general), which sought to abolish this rule in united India post its Independence.
Imagine for a moment, that in today’s India there are constituencies allocated for different religions – for Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains etc. etc.!!! These are the initial weeds of religious separation that Sardar Patel and likes have pulled out in the initial days to ensure a united India for centuries!
Unification of India is not the only achievement of Sardar Patel’s 35 year long political career, but it was by far his most important. Why, in my opinion it is the single most important and indispensable moment in the Indian freedom struggle; ahead of non-cooperation movement or Chale-jao or Azad-Hind!
For that matter the conception of IAS and IPS is also credited to Patel, which improvised over the British time ICS (Indian Civil Services) systems. It was primarily idea of Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru – and later Sardar Vallabh-bhai Patel – to have a strong, authoritative central government to ensure the unity of Indian government. The restructuring of IAS-IPS by Patel should be seen from this perspective.
For facing such daunting challenge, a person requires pragmatism, discipline and determination with ruthlessness if needed. Patel had all these qualities abundantly. After achieving this unimaginable feat of forming Union of India, a British daily said in his honour, “The same man is seldom seen successful as Rebel and Statesman. Sardar Patel is an exception!”
He represented this practical, no-nonsense, tough line of thought in Congress party, while the other two greats of the party – Gandhi and Nehru – had more pleasing, appeasing tone. His followers used to say, “We call Bapu as ‘mahatma’, but we call Patel as ‘Sardar’… and there’s reason for it!”.
Post Patel’s death in 1950… slowly and gradually the pragmatism went on diminishing from Indian Politics and a lot of romanticism slowly took it’s place. (Indira Gandhi was the iron-lady India had, but for political needs or whatsoever, she resorted more to the romanticism again. More on this here) Even today, when we tend to (or made to) believe that “Temple entries are linked to woman empowerment” or “Terrorists have human rights” we are essentially the victims of this age-old political romanticism that is now flowing through our veins.
I do not mean to say that romanticism is bad, but there is a limit to it. That is why pragmatism is needed to keep it in check.
The world is slowly waking out of this romanticism, the rise of rightist political parties worldwide is a proof of it.
With the inauguration of statue of Unity, hope the pragmatism returns to Indian politics