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Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

  • Category
    History & Culture
  • Published
    30th Oct, 2019

As part of Sardar Vallabhai Patel's 144th birth anniversary celebrations, the Centre has directed police and central forces across the country to display portraits of the country's first Home Minister along with his message in their offices, to inspire people with his thoughts and also The National Unity Day is celebrated annually on October 31.

Issue

Context

As part of Sardar Vallabhai Patel's 144th birth anniversary celebrations, the Centre has directed police and central forces across the country to display portraits of the country's first Home Minister along with his message in their offices, to inspire people with his thoughts and also The National Unity Day is celebrated annually on October 31.

 

Background

  • Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel was born in Nadiad, Gujarat.
  • The family was an agriculturist one of the Lewa Patidar Community, and could in terms of economic status be described as lower middle-class. It was poor and had no tradition of education.
  • Even as a young boy Vallabhbhai displayed qualities of organization and leadership that marked him out for his future role.
  • Vallabhbhai must have inherited these attributes from his father who, it is said, had fought in the Mutiny under the Rani of Jhansi and was subsequently taken prisoner by Malhar Rao Holkar.
  • 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.

Role in Indian National Movement

  • In 1917, Sardar Vallabhbhai was elected as the Secretary of the Gujarat Sabha, the Gujarat wing of the Indian National Congress.
  • In 1918, he led a massive "No Tax Campaign" that urged the farmers not to pay taxes after the British insisted on tax after the floods in Kaira.
  • His effort to bring together the farmers of his area brought him the title of 'Sardar'.
  • He actively supported the non-cooperation Movement launched by Gandhi.
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was among the leaders imprisoned for participating in the famous Salt Satyagraha movement initiated by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • He led the Satyagraha movement across Gujarat when Gandhi was under imprisonment, upon request from the congress members.
  • Sardar Patel was freed in 1931, following an agreement signed between Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India. The treaty was popularly known as the Gandhi-Irwin Pact.
  • In the 1942 Quit India Movement, Patel continued his unwavering support to Gandhi when several contemporary leaders criticized the latter’s decision. He continued travelling throughout the country propagating the agenda of the movement in a series of heart-felt speeches.

Contributions to Post-independence India

  • After India achieved independence, Patel became the first Home Minister and also the Deputy Prime Minister.
  • Patel played a very crucial role in post-independence India by successfully integrating around 562 princely states under the Indian Dominion.
  • He was successful in integrating all of them barring Jammu and Kashmir, Junagarh and Hyderabad. The India that we see today was a result of the efforts put in by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
  • He was the key force in establishing the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service.
  • He took personal interest in initiating a restoration endeavour of the Somnath Temple in Saurashtra, Gujarat.
  • Patel dealt ruthlessly with the Pakistan’s efforts to invade Kashmir in September 1947.
  • He organised multiple refugee camps in Punjab and Delhi, and later in West Bengal.

Influence of Gandhi

  • Gandhi had profound effect on Patel’s politics and thoughts.
  • He pledged unwavering support to the Mahatma and stood by his principles all through his life.
  • While leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru, Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari and Maulana Azad criticized Mahatma Gandhi's idea that the civil disobedience movement would compel the British to leave the nation, Patel extended his support to Gandhi.
  • Despite the unwillingness of the Congress High Command, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel strongly forced the All India Congress Committee to ratify the civil disobedience movement and launch it without delaying further.
  • Upon Gandhi’s request he gave up his candidacy for the post of the Prime Minister of India.

Accession of the states

  • Junagadh: Junagadh, a state on the southwestern end of Gujarat, the Arabian Sea stood between it and Pakistan, and over 80% of its population professed Hinduism. The Nawab of Junagadh Mahabhat Khan acceded to Pakistan. They announced the accession on August 15 1947, when Pakistan had come into being. When Pakistan confirmed the acceptance of the accession in September, the Government of India expressed outraged that Muhammad Ali Jinnah would accept the accession of Junagadh despite his argument that Hindus and Muslims could not live as one nation. Eventually, Patel ordered the forcible annexation of Junagadh's three principalities. Junagadh's court, facing financial collapse and no possibility of resisting Indian forces. A plebiscite convened in December, with approximately 99% of the people choosing India over Pakistan.
  • Kashmir: Maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu, equally hesitant about acceding to India, felt his mostly Muslim subjects would not like joining a Hindu-majority nation — or Pakistan — an eventuality which he would personally prefer to avoid. Patel had feared that the U.N.'s involvement would stall the process and allow Pakistan to reinforce its presence in Kashmir. Additionally, the outcome of a plebiscite remained highly uncertain. In 1957, Kashmir officially integrated into the Union, but with special provisions made for it in the Constitution's Article 370. The northwestern portion remaining under control of the Pakistan army remains today as Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
  • Hyderabad: Hyderabad constituted a state that stretched over 82,000 square miles in the center of India. Without Hyderabad, a large gap would exist in the centre of the united nation envisioned by Indian nationalists and the Indian public. Patel believed that Hyderabad looked to Pakistan for support, and could pose a constant threat to India's security in the future. Patel argued Hyderabad essential for India's unity, but he agreed with Lord Mountbatten to refrain from using force. Prime Minister Nehru after some contentious debate, and under Operation Polo, sent the Army to invade Hyderabad. Indian troops fought Hyderabadi troops and Razakars and defeated them.

Conclusion

India, in its present form would not have existed without the vision, tact & pragmatism of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He is truly the Bismarck & the 'Iron Man' of modern India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru truly said that, "History will call Sardar Patel, the builder & consolidator of the new India".

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