Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Iron Man of India, also considered to be the architect of modern India, has been in news recently with the announcement by the finance minister that Rs. 200 crore in the budget has been set aside to erect a large statue of this great man in Gujarat. This is our Prime Minister Narendar Modi’s dream project, his tribute to Sardar Patel. This statue, “The Statue of Unity” will be on the same lines as that of the “Statue of Liberty” that will make our country stand tall as one nation, one culture, and one people, which was the dream of Sardar Patel for India.
There are lots of discussions going on in the social media about this project ever since its announcement and the young generation is criticizing it very badly. According to them, Rs. 200 crore is a big amount of money, which could have been allotted for other important social issues.
While this is true, we cannot also deny the fact it was Sardar Patel who had great dreams for India after its Independence and had he been alive, India would have been in a different world: a better and a prosperous one. Narendra Modi, a great admirer and staunch follower of Patel had once stated in his personal blog that had Sardar Patel been the first Prime Minister after independence, the country’s scenario would have been completely different.
Now the question that comes to our mind is why and how? What was the vision of Sardar Patel for modern India?
Sardar Patel was greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. He joined India’s freedom struggle. He started the peasant movement in various parts of Gujarat and took up the cause of the farmers against heavy taxes levied on them by the British. He became the president of India National Congress in 1931. He took active participation in Salt Satyagraha, Civil Disobedience Movement, and Quit India Movement, and was considered one of the most influential leaders during the Freedom Movement.
Sardar Patel and Independent India
Modern Indian history is incomplete without Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. His vision, his work, and his principles were highly remarkable in Independent India.
- Integrating India: When our country became independent in 1947, Sardar Patel was appointed as the deputy prime minister for a home ministry of the country. He took over the role as a deputy PM at a time when Indian history was in a very critical stage. Since day one, he had a vision for India to consolidate it into one united country. As the first Home Minister of Independent India, he played an important role in bringing the 565 self-governing princely states and territories into the Indian federation. To the astonishment of his critics and fellow politicians, almost within a year, 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.
- 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. The Indian Civil Service, formed by the British Government was to protect and strengthen their rule in India. Sardar Patel, on the other hand, wanted a strong and independent civil service. He had put his support for a Federal Civil Service. The Civil Service established in Democratic India should serve the people of India. His argument led to form a groundwork for Unified National Administration. And today, we do have the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Police Service, and the Indian Forest Service for the people. But, we cannot say whether Patel’s ideology in the true sense has been followed or not as most of these civil servants, barring a few, are in the clutches of corruption and politicians. However, we cannot deny the fact that Patel had the vision to create a strong and vibrant administrative system but unfortunately he did not live long to fulfill his dream.
- Concern about border security: Patel conceptualized some of the greatest policies to keep our country secured from border countries’ attack. He wrote a letter to Nehru, pointing out few facts like as:
o Cautioning him about the threat to India and impending war from China.
o The need for strengthening defense force.
o Examining and reshuffling the military position in various borders.
o Strengthening Northern and North-Eastern frontier.
o Improvement of transport and communication in these border areas.
However, this was not taken seriously by Nehruji and we had to pay a heavy price in the 1962 Indo-China war. Not only that, certain precautionary measures were taken at that point of time, as pointed out Sardar Patel could have definitely saved our country from the constant fear of terrorism today.
- Privatization: In addition, Sardar Patel was favorable for private enterprises, as opposed to public sector favored by Nehru. He was in very close terms with many top Indian businessmen at that time. His views on Indian business were just appropriate for modern India today.
No wonder, Narendra Modi had rightly stated many times that the Indian economy would have been different if Patel was the first prime minister. He was indeed the architect of modern India. Unfortunately, he lived only for three years after independence. Had he been alive, this man of iron will, with his vision for modern India could have placed India amongst the most developed nations of the world. We salute this great India.