Friday, October 31, 2008

Patel remembered.

Today (October 31st) is Sardar vallabh-bhai Patel's 133rd birth anniversary.

The following article by Mr Jagmohan traces some moments of his life

that showed his exemplary vision and boldness in making right decisions

that had far-reaching consequences.

Nikita Khrushchev once remarked how Patel succeeded

in liquidating the princely states without liquidating the princes!

But what we see today is a picture of contrast –

of politicians liquidating the nation and its people - for self-serving interests!

Though un-connected with the article given below,

I wish to state two issues that are of importance today –

demanding immediate attention.

Only a person of Patel's nature can tackle them.

One is the need to do away with the current liquor policy of the Tamilnadu government.

Another is the need to put a stop to the poaching into the Hindu space.

The first one needs no elaboration.

But the second one is being felt even at the grass root level- in Tamilnadu.

A proof that I see through my window is this.

The Christians living opposite to my house,

having some connections and interests have engaged teachers for 2 hours

to run a free tuition class for the poor school children.

There are Saravanans, Senthils and Lakshmis in this class.

They come here after school hours

because their parents are too poor to pay for their tuition and

too illiterate to help them even in their primary class.

The students are given a free packet of biscuits and a cup of milk at the end of the class.

But in the first ½ and hour and the last ½ an hour,

they have to sing / recite songs and stories in Tamil (their mother tongue) on Christianity.

The recitals are such that it says that when they have a problem,

they need not go their mother or father.

If they come to Jesus, he would definitely solve the problems

that can not be solved by their parents.

Some recitals are so explicit, that they call the young mind

to denounce what their family or parents say and instead take refuge in Jesus.

I can see some of the students just mumbling the recitals.

But the teachers scold them telling that they would fail in the exams

if they don't say the recitals aloud.

And the students are individually asked to recite the prayers in the class.

I don't see them doing the same for their lessons or math-tables.

But I see them being forced to memorize all the prayers and songs –

some of the songs degrading bhakthi cult of Hindus–

and they are made to repeat them everyday.

There is another tuition class running in my next door / car-park.

Here too students from poor background come but they mind their lessons all the time.

This one, run by a Hindu has no prayers or preaching or dramas

enacted on religion, as happens in the other one.

Those who can afford to pay some money send their children here.

But all the parents (of both tuition classes) are from very low economic back ground –

(some of them are construction workers and painters etc)

and anxious to see their children do well in studies.

But of late I am finding the Hindu tuition teacher

teaching some slokas and sthothras to some of the wards.

In contrast, there is a thin attendance in the Christian-run tuition class

right from the beginning of this academic year.

Expectedly, I hear only Christian names among the students there.

Senthils and Sarvanans are no longer in the class.

Most of them have come out of the class.

But the Hindu teacher is getting requests from the parents (all Hindus)

to teach Hindu stories and slokas everyday for some time!

This is something note worthy!

Even if they are too poor to afford a fee,

they don't want to put their wards in a class

that expects them to recite songs or stories of another religion.

How could this awareness come unless this preaching is going beyond a tolerant limit?

One may even wonder what these people know of Hinduism or religious preaching.

But gone are the days when Christian class was considered as one

teaching discipline and good character.

Nowadays it is going deeper into brainwashing one's mind to undermine

the system in which one is born.

It is an important development that the Hindu poor and uneducated

have become aware of this design.

More importantly, they want their wards to be know about Hindu ways and prayers.

This is a case of vigilant public

when the governments are turning a blind eye to proselytization

and are succinctly encouraging such efforts.

But this is not a thing to gloat about.

This sadly foretells a future of tension between communities

unless proselytizing and many ways of penetration into Hindu space are stopped

Times are such that we need a strong man of steel of Patel kind

to boldly put a stop to these unsavory efforts

which is also a big business for the people involved in it.



Salute to Sardar Patel: Rebel and statesman

By Jagmohan

(Former Governor of J&K and a former Union minister )

THE OTHER day, a national daily reported that a functionary of the Muslim Political Council had described Sardar Patel as a terrorist. Nothing could be more preposterous than this description. It is, perhaps, in our country alone that such wild and irresponsible allegations could be levelled against one of the most respected leaders of the freedom struggle and greatest builder of modern India.

Patel, it is often forgotten, was the chairman of the Minorities Sub-Committee of the Constituent Assembly. The liberal provisions which our Constitution contains for the protection of linguistic and cultural rights of the minorities speak volumes about his catholicity. Gandhiji's unflinching faith in Sardar Patel's secularism comes out clearly in a letter written to him by Mahadev Desai on October 24, 1924, during Gandhiji's famous 21-day fast for Hindu-Muslim unity.

Mahadev said: "Whatever may happen on Hindu-Muslim front in Gujarat, as long as you are there, Bapu is at peace. If a storm occurs despite your presence, Bapu will assume that it was not possible to prevent it".

There is no one in modern India who has achieved so much in so many directions and in such a short time as Sardar Patel. At the time of his death, the Manchester Guardian wrote: "Without Patel, Gandhi's idea would have less practical influence and Nehru's idealism less scope. He was not only the organiser of the fight for freedom but also the architect of the new State when the fight was over. The same man is seldom successful both as rebel and statesman. Sardar Patel was an exception". Sardar Patel's integration of over 560 princely states was really a great "triumph for the sense of realism and responsibility". In respect of this great task, he has often been compared with Chancellor Bismarck who unified Germany in the late 19th century. But Patel's achievement is far more remarkable than that of Bismarck.

The latter had only to deal with about a dozen states; Patel had to handle 561. While Bismarck resorted to the policy of "blood and iron", Patel brought about a bloodless revolution.

He showed an amazing capacity to size up men and moments and to strike when the iron was hot. Without splattering any blood, he made it possible for about 800,000 square kilometres of land and 86 million people to be added to the Indian Union.

Both Gandhiji and Lord Mountbatten warmly recognised Sardar Patel's great contribution. Gandhi observed: "The task of dealing with the princes was truly formidable, but I am convinced that the Sardar was the only person who could have coped with it".

Lord Mountbatten, in his letter of June 19, 1948, to Patel, wrote: "There is no doubt that by far the most important achievement of the present government is unification of the states into the Dominion of India. Had you failed in this, the results would have been disastrous. But since you succeeded, no one can see the disastrous consequences that you avoided. Nothing has added to the prestige of the present government more than the brilliant policy you have followed with the states".

Patel first formulated a great design for a well-knit India and then proceeded to materialise it on the ground. He aroused the patriotic sentiments of the princes and reminded them: "We are at a momentous stage in the history of India. By a common endeavour, we can raise the country to a new greatness, while lack of unity will expose us to fresh calamities".

At the same time, he took care not to allow any grass to grow underneath his feet.

He scotched Nawab of Bhopal's idea of grouping a few states and securing a separate dominion status. And when compulsive denigrators of India, like Winston Churchill, tried to complicate the Hyderabad problem by propping up the divisive game of the Nizam, "an old and faithful ally of the Empire", Patel responded clearly and firmly: "It is only in goodwill spirit and not on the malice and venom of Mr Churchill's tongue that an enduring relation ship can be built between India and Britain and other members of the Commonwealth". The message went home and the browbeating of India stopped.

Patel's approach to the highly complex issues of integration of a wide variety of princely states was marked by an inspired vision, tact, magnanimity, inflexible will and "resolute practicability".

When Nikita Khrushchev visit ed India in 1956, he significantly observed: "You Indians are a remarkable people. You have liquidated the princely states without liquidating the princes". It was, by implications, a great tribute to the remarkable work of Patel.

If Patel had handled Jammu and Kashmir, the subsequent confusion and contradictions would have been avoided and we would not have found our selves in the bloody and bru tal mess of the present-day.

Patel had correctly sized up Sheikh Abdullah and sensed his proclivity to bully. His practical sense orbade him to believe that all Indian eggs co uld be safely placed in the Sheikh's bas ket. He bemoaned India's reference of the Kashmir case to the United Nations.

He tried his best to secure deletion of the words "plebiscite under the UN auspices" from Pandit Nehru's radio broadcast on October 28, 1947.

In his private conversation, he sometimes satirically referred to the "expertise" of the two votaries of the UN in the Government of India, namely Lord Mountbatten and Nehru.

Patel was also against Gopalaswamy Ayyangar being sent as leader of the Indian delegation to the UN and Sheikh Abdullah as member. He preferred Sir Girja Shankar to the former; about the latter, he feared that the "Sheikh's flamboyant personality might easily swamp the boat".

It was unwise to agree with many of Sheikh Abdullah's unreasonable demands and to bolster his ego to such an extent that he started nursing illusions of carving out a virtual Sheikhdom for himself and his coterie. Had Patel remained on the scene, he would have halted the appeasement in time.

During the freedom struggle, the Indian Civil Service (ICS) was on the other side of the fence and incurred the wrath of the Congress leaders. Jawaharlal Nehru berated it as "neither Indian nor civil nor service". As the freedom movement gained momentum and Partition loomed over the Indian horizon, members of the Indian civil service became uneasy about their future. Thanks to the constructive genius of Patel, the tangle was satisfactorily resolved.

Patel's approach was that of a statesman. He did not allow the past rancour of the Congress against the ICS to blur his vision. He firmly believed that ICS had a vital role to play in building a strong and united India and advocated its retention and proposed the constitution of the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service.

Patel explained his reasons for favouring the continuance of ICS during the debate in the Constituent Assembly. A few members criticised his proposals. Ayyangar said: "It means that they were the rulers under the old regime and they will continue to be so in this regime". But Patel defended the ICS vigorously.

In a speech which must be reckoned as historic in the arena of public administration in India, Patel said: "In point of patriotism, in point of sincerity and in point of ability, you cannot have a substitute… As a man of experience, I tell you, do not quarrel with the instruments with which you want to work. It is a bad workman who quarrels with his instruments".

Patel's acknowledgement of the role of the Indian civil service boosted the morale of the officers and gave them a new sense of confidence and purpose. They saw in him a "great guardian of their legitimate interests". He, with the enthusiastic support of the officers, not only completed the integration of the states and steered the country through a critical phase but also put the Indian administration on a secure foundation.

Patel was an embodiment of probity in public life. The only property he left comprised a few dhotis and kurtas and a suitcase. He did not tolerate malfeasance anywhere. Even a minor impropriety by his partymen was sternly dealt with.

Today, when "things in India are falling apart" and the Union is tottering, the national leadership ought to take a leaf from Patel's book and show the same constructive vision and iron will which he showed at a critical juncture of our history.

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