Sardar Patel Memorial Speech by Beluru Sudarshana

Dear fellow Indians, Namaskara.

I am privileged to deliver a speech on this auspicious day of Sardar Patel’s Birth anniversary.  I am a freelance journalist in Kannada, and this is my first speech in English. I have learned English by practice. So, I have prepared a written speech and I will try to communicate my feelings to the most extent possible. I request you to kindly oblige.

Today is a great day for India. For the first time after independence, Sardar Patel is remembered on a massive scale, supported by none other than the Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi.  Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nation is from Gujarat; Sardar Patel, architect of India’s unification is from Gujarat. Now, we have a Gujarati Prime Minister who is following the path of Mahatma Gandhi (remember Swachch Bharat Campaign) and Sardar Patel. It is pity that Sardar Patel’s contributions are being recognised after almost 65 years! Let us all thank Sri Narendra Modi for invoking the magic of Sardar Patel. Because India needs the slogan Rashtriya Ekta Divas, Rashtreeya Ekata Dina, National Unity Day now more than ever.

We all know how Sardar Patel made more than 650 states to accept unification. He, with VP Menon as his next in command, did this wonderful job in four years, which is from 1947 to 1951. If we see the map of political India of 1947 and compare it with the map of 1951, we will come to know his great accomplishment.  I suggest you to watch a 1993 Bollywood movie Sardar Patel, which has captured many moments of Sardar’s life. Paresh Rawal has given justice to the role. I saw it last night just to get myself acquainted with his body language.

Unfortunately for Indians, the Nehru regime completely ignored Sardar Patel. The subsequent Governments also did the same injustice. In fact, there are official quotes from leaders like Dr Babu Rajendra Prasad that Sardar Patel was a better Prime Minister of Independent India, than Jawaharlal Nehru. Whatever, Sardar Patel served a Deputy Prime Minister, but did the job equivalent of what Mahatma Gandhi did prior to Independence. I salute this great person.

I started studying Sardar Patel when I did the translation of the literatures regarding the Statue of Unity into Kannada last year. It made me understand the importance of Sardar Patel’s contributions and also the motive behind Sri Narendra Modi’s mega project. Modi wishes to erect a 182 meter high Statue of Sardar Patel in Gujarat. This will be the largest statue in the world once completed. Is it just Modi’s Gujarati pride? Or is he thinking beyond Gujarat? I was wondering. Now, he has become the Prime Minister of India and has never forgotten Sardar Patel. He has allocated Rs. 200 Crores for the Statue of Unity Project.  So, Statue of Unity and National Unity day – both are the faces of the same coin. That is pure nationalism. According to me, Sri Modi is creating a bigger, justifiable image of Sardar Patel so that all the namesake statues which have been erected all over India will be reduced to their real values.

Shri Narendra Modi has said:  “The Statue of Unity is not the Bhakti of a person but it is the Bhakti of a thought! Sardar Patel’s message of unity must keep echoing in every part of the country & Statue of Unity will spread this message across India.”  

It is always better to have a single statue represented by the whole nation, rather than thousands of statues of a political leader forced upon by the regimes. Statue of Unity will take iron from all the villages of India; the campus will exhibit the photographs of all the panchayat members of the villages; all the villages will send soil samples to the campus. Thus, what Sri Modi is attempting is this:  Let us show the unity of India at the lotus foot of   Sardar Patel. Let us declare that we owe him a lot, the unified and strong India. Of course we all know that Sardar Patel has walked on almost all the soil samples some 6 decades back. It is only a symbolic gesture from us; Sardarji, see we have been united for all these years and will make a strong India!

Apart from Wikipedia, I also searched other sources to make points for this speech. I came across two books on Sardar Patel which I suggest you to read in your free time. The first one is by V P Menon himself: THE STORY OF THE INTEGRATION OF THE INDIAN STATES. The second book is a rare soft copy available on archive.org. It is titled: LIFE AND WORK OF SARDAR VALLABHBHAI PATEL edited by P D SAGGI which has a foreword by C Rajagopalachari. This 378 page book is a treasure of information. It contains rare photographs of Sardar Patel and rarest insightful information on Sardar Patel. I will just quote a few paragraphs from this book just to encourage you to read the book itself:

This is an anecdote from his childhood.

This is how he is remembered soon after his demise.

This is a popular incident, though very tragic in nature.

This is the view of Sardar Patel on education in mother tongue

Sardar Patel strongly believed in Swadeshi Movement.

Sardar Patel’s view of a strong India is this:

This is a quote by D B Dhanapada

Now, I will discuss briefly about the relevance of Sardar Patel’s thoughts in the present India.

  1. Smaller states and Administration reforms: After formation of states based on languages, now there is a trend to create smaller states based on administrative and demographic requirements. While the unification of States was the need of the hour just after Independence, creation of smaller states has become an administrative necessity. The demand for some smaller states like Vidarbha is a pointer towards this.
  2. Internal security: The raise of naxalism and extreme communism in some part of India, including Telangana is posing a grave problem for India’s development. Personally I fully endorse the feeling that there is no development in those naxalism infested areas. But taking lives of citizen and security forces is not the real solution. I hope Sri Modi and Sri Rajnath Singh will address these issues in a positive way. There is no place for violence in this country. Even Sardar has protested, but always peacefully and straight under the philosophy of Gandhiji’s Satyagraha model.
  3. Jammu and Kashmir issue: Sardar Patel was instrumental in the accession of Jammu and Kashmir into India. It is also heard that Nehru did not listen to Sardar Patel’s strategic suggestions which, if followed would have resolved the issues of Jammu & Kashmir forever. Somehow, Pakistan is still troubling India on this issue. This is one of the biggest security issues for India. We have lost a major part of Kashmir and there I strongly pitch for getting it back.
  4. Challenges of Globalisation : The industrial and commercial scenario have changed drastically since the days of Independence. So, let us not stick to what Sardar has specifically has said on these topics. But his line of thinking was rooted in Swadeshi. So, let us strongly support Swadeshi movement in its new Avatar. Sri Modi’s  Make in India, 5Ts of Development (Technology, Talent, Trade, Tradition, Tourism), and such ideas are indicators of a new character of Swadeshi. The Globalisation will have to be accommodated without compromising on national interests. 100 smart cities, broadband to villages are all also worth noting here.  So, championing this New Age Swadeshi would keep Sardar Patel’s views on localisation and Swadeshi.
  5. Unity at the time of IT revolution: I am watching the developments in the field of IT and always trying to find ways and means to make best use of IT. It is not just Facebook or Google. It is much more than this. Connecting villages with high bandwidth broadband is a basic requirement. What goes the villages is important. According to me, communication in local languages, educative and informative materials for children, market support for farmers and similar activities will make the broadband useful. This is digital Unity of India. This will greatly reduce the inferiority among the villagers. But care should be taken to see that urabn viruses like crime, unbridled consumerism, will not influence the village ecosystem, but will enable comfortable contemporary lifestyle.
  6. First person approach: National Unity day is not just another day to make speeches and forget. I always believe in first person approach. Recently I have launched a FREE BOOK CULTURE and released our first book, Computer and Kannada for the benefit of college students. I have brought few books here for you. Please take your free copy without bothering about paying. I request all of you to develop this first person approach and do something on your own rather than discussing everything on social media. When Sri Modi sweeps a street, he is sending this message of first person approach. We can’t expect Prime Minister to do the same thing every day. He is setting an example. We have to emulate his role model. I am also learning Hindustani classical music to understand our traditional music. Unless we attempt to learn, our words become rhetoric.

So, I suggest the following five simple activities on National Unity

  1. One good work every day: Let us all try to do at least one good work every day, so that we feel good all through the day. Share your experience with others and encourage them to do the same. You can start with one good work every week and then increase it gradually.
  2. Keeping a watch on anti-social elements: Neighborhood watch is a must now. Whether it is criminals around us, or maniacs, or corrupt officials, leaders or those who abet violence – we should watch and try to report it to the authorities. This will greatly enhance our citizenship responsibilities.
  3. Balance life between virtual and real life: We are over exposed to communication tools. Let us start limiting ourselves. Keep a standard no-use time for your mobiles and other communication tools. Look around and do some physical work. Only then we can see change.
  4. Parental enjoyment: Whenever you enter into marital life, plan your timings so that you spare a minimum of three hours with your child / children. These would become your most cherished moments in your life. Urbanisation, Westernisation and Consumerism has resulted in fragmentation of families. I am not opposed to contemporary developments, but I am of the opinion that the social values of Indian society must be preserved.
  5. Follow a Green life: India cannot become a strong nation, if its natural resources are exploited. We should oppose every kind of activity which affects the green life. Protection of environment, pollution control, usage of biomass – solar energy for electricity and fuel, avoiding usage of plastic, promoting native crops, purchasing local food, avoiding imported packaged food,  – all these form the part of Green life.

Finally I again quote Sardar Patel, which is a message to the students of India.

Jai Hind.  Jai Karnataka. Thank you.