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WAYS OF BEING SARDAR PATEL: DECODING HIS MULTIFACETED STANCES IN 21ST CENTURY
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Author: Muhammed Shakir K, II year of M.A., in Sociology from IGNOU
It is the unparalleled services of some selfless people that have shaped the values of any nation. It was the dedicated efforts of many ancient dignitaries that shaped modern India from the brink of strong oppression, denial of rights and colonization. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, known as 'the Iron Man of India’, was an indispensable figure in this.
Patel's foresight and visionary, which assesses the conditions of the existing system, analyses the sentiments it represents and adopts constructive approaches, has played a major role in shaping an independent India. It is reflected in the 'Statue of Unity' (The statue erected by the Government of India as a tribute to Patel) as marked by a nation.
What sets a leader apart from others is the diversity of attitudes and rational action. Unlike politicians who are confined to mere rhetoric, Patel's style is one of declaring the only action. Despite his power and recognition, he emphasized only human qualities. That is why today's India has a lot to learn from Sardar. The realization of its creative approaches will move India forward in a positive way.
Socio-political and economic views of Patel
The arrival of the political genius Patel was not an accident one. It was his long career of work that led him to remain active in the Indian freedom struggle. His political career was marked by his condolences to the peasants of Gujarat, who depended on agriculture for their livelihood. He was ready to listen to the needs of the distressed farmers and suggest suitable solutions.
He also worked for the empowerment of women and the eradication of caste inequalities that were ingrained in the society. He was convinced that women's education and representation were essential for the prosperity and upliftment of the nation.
He valued the opinions of others in politics. Taking over the leadership, he was careful to respect and obey Gandhi and Nehru. Despite his popularity, he was confined to the post of Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister due to his special nature.
Realizing that growing youth was the cornerstone of the future, Patel sought ways to create a good character among them and convinced them of the importance of practical education. It is the freedom and equality that enables anyone to reach the top, but he also realized that the laziness that develops in individuals weakens a young society and says that "discipline and organization mean half the battle won".
Social dimensions are to be observed and not to be violated. He was also criticized for throwing food on the road and spitting on the road. Also, he strongly criticizes the use of intoxicants and alcohol, which create social hazards.
He was against his relatives using his name to get things done illegally.
Because of his compulsive intellect in this matter, he once asked his son not to come there while he was in Delhi. He also had Economical views. He encouraged the people of the country to get more involved in the production process and to start small enterprises because self-sufficiency is the root cause of national progress.
As a developing country, Patel's socio-economic and political vision for India will be conducive to the progress of the nation and, more importantly, to a nation with a vision of sustainable development.
Integration and Leadership
Known as the Indian Bismarck, Patel was the owner of irreplaceable leadership.
It was no small task to lead India, which was divided into 565 princely States, into a single nation. President Zakir Hussain considered Patel even Greater than Bismarck because he has unified the country within a short time and without much noise and trumpeting.
His diplomatic prowess led to the rapid annexation of states to India. But leaving States like Junagadh and Hyderabad created fatigue. Gentle interactions with kings and at the same time harsh conversations when needed created fear in princes. This later led to surrenders
What sets Leader apart from a boss is his attempt to lead and elevate his peers.
Sardar Patel was always ready to sacrifice his interests and help others. He was keen to study in London but raised the necessary funds but at the last minute decided to send his elder brother Vithal Bhai Patel to teach in London.
For this reason, at the age of 36, he went to London to study law. He was defending a case in court when his wife died in bed. During the cross-examination, while the case was being argued, someone handed him this sad truth as a note. But, it silently folded and put in his pocket. The news was later told to others after the case was won. There can be no greater example of loyalty to the nation and commitment to the people.
His efforts to bring people to the leadership later brought people into the administrative sphere with the vision of IAS. He saw the importance of having a uniform administrative structure and wanted to organise it on a nationwide basis with the central government having considerable control over it.
Nehru and Patel differed on many national issues. However, the two leaders respected each other. After Gandhi’s death, Nehru and Rajaji pushed Patel, who was about to resign from his ministerial post due to criticism of the Home Department in the media.
Patel and contemporary India
What was Patel's involvement in Indian history? The answer to this question is in book form. A biography of Patel written by Raj Mohan Gandhi illustrates how a man named Patel has permeated the entire history of India. The introduction to the book says "The establishment of independent India derived legitimacy and power, broadly speaking, from the exertions of three men, Gandhi, Nehru and Patel. But while its acknowledgements are fulsome in the case of Nehru and dutiful in the case of Gandhi, they are niggardly in the case of Patel.
An examination of the cause of the plight of the Congress in contemporary India reveals that they abandoned Patel in the course of history. Congress lost a very strong memory along the way. For the Congress, which has a burning history in the national movement, the power of history alone was enough to lead India for a long time. Memories of the sacrificial and comprehensive journey to independence reminded them of the efforts made by Congress for the integrity and unity of the country so that they could overcome all kinds of challenges. When communal attempts were made to divide the country, the word Patel was enough for them to unite all. The greatest devastation they have ever experienced is that they did not.
In contemporary India, an attitude of victim and hunter is emerging. Minorities are subjected to discrimination and oppression.
When only corporate interests are protected, the dreams of the section that should be considered in a democracy are shattered. This is where we need to learn from Patel. He had an extraordinary influence in enlightening the basic classes of India to the Gandhian movement. He never compromised on any kind of class betrayal and read the pulse of India through the common people.
When marking the history of a country, the natives can never be ignored. Just as that history is unacceptable if ignored, only if the spirit of democracy is in the people can genuine all-encompassing democratic developments take place?
Instead of political parties trying to politicize Patel for identity interests, efforts should be made to evaluate Patel's attitudes and stances impartially and make Indian democracy fruitful.
Criticism and concerns over Patel
Although he has been praised for his influence, new studies are critical of Patel. Importantly, Patel acknowledged the inequitable system in which his existence was at stake. His sense of belonging to the Shudra sect plunged him into the Brahmanical domination of confinement to action.
Patel's only motive was the anti-British sentiment. Patel's failure to make intellectual gains was a hindrance to his history and power. That is what hindered the history and power of the Shudras.
Patel has no social or political ideas of his own. He represented the Shudras without a representative ideology.
Today Gandhi and Nehru are known as great thinkers. Their works are the subject of study in schools, colleges and universities. There is no book written by Patel to know about his life, ideas, family or caste.
We know all about this from books written by others. Therefore, Patel's history of facing an identity crisis is distorted in different ways.
Muhammad Shakir is currently a research intern at Jamia Madeenathunnoor, Calicut, Kerala and pursuing Master’s Degree in Sociology from IGNOU, New Delhi. He is a Reviewer, writer and independent research fellow, specializing in the areas of transnational studies and cultural anthropology. He is also interested in tradition, aesthetics and Comparative studies.