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Special Content

Issue no 31, 28 Oct - 03 Nov 2023

The Future is Now with the People Excerpt from the book titled "For a United India: Speeches of Sardar Patel 1947-1950" In the heart of a nation that stands as the world's largest democracy today, a remarkable saga of unity and determination unfolded during the tumultuous years between 1947 and 1950. This period of history witnessed the nascent Indian Republic grappling with the daunting task of integrating 560 princely states into a cohesive Indian Union, reorganising its administrative machinery, rejuvenating its war-ravaged economy, and welcoming millions of refugees with open arms. At the center of this historic transformation stood Sardar Patel, the "Iron Man of India," whose indomitable spirit and unwavering resolve played an unparalleled role in shaping the destiny of a newly independent nation. We are privileged to offer you a glimpse into this pivotal period of India's history through an exclusive excerpt from the book titled 'For a United India: Speeches of Sardar Patel 1947-1950.' Published by the Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, this work is an expanded edition of the 1949 collection titled 'On Indian Problems.' In this comprehen-sive edition, we not only find most of the speeches from the original publication but also some of the major speeches and statements made by Sardar Patel during the crucial years of 1949 and 1950. THE FUTURE IS NOW WITH THE PEOPLE "Today, we have assembled on a historic occasion. A new chapter in the history of India is opening up before us. We have reason to congratulate ourselves that we are all participating in such an auspicious event; we have also occasion to be proud of it. But along with this pride and this celebration, let us not be unmindful of our duties and obligations. We must cleanse our hearts and purify our minds and resolve to do pure deeds by ourselves, by the new Union and by our country. We should harbour no evil, we should reflect who we are, what we have inherited and what we have achieved. If you look at the history of India, you will find that for centuries, India was steeped in slavery. What struggles, what sacrifices, what bitterness and what sorrow we all had to face to rid India of that centuries-old malady that had eaten into the very vitals of its nationhood! A great change has come about, indeed a great revolution has been brought into being. The greater the change, the more comprehensive the revolution, the more are the travails through which the country has to pass. We have already had more than our due share of troubles and turmoil. We are lucky to have survived so many of them, but many are still to be overcome. If we falter or fail, we shall consign ourselves to eternal shame and disgrace. I want you to realise the full gravity of the situation and to consider the position in the light of the legacy which we have inherited. Did anyone dream a year or two ago that one-third of India would be integrated in this fashion? This is the first time in history after centuries that India can call itself an integrated whole in the real sense of the term. But we must all resolve that whatever mistakes we might commit, we should do nothing which would be calculated to send India back into the slavery of the past. It is, therefore, the duty of India's valiant sons to see that the clocks of progress are not put back, but go forward. We must also realise that if we have to take our due place in the comity of nations, it will not come to us for the asking; we shall have to strain every nerve for it… On the people of the Union, new responsibility has devolved. To rule by one's will alone is easy: to rule by consent and jointly is a difficult task, particularly when administrative experience is lacking. It is for this reason that we all must tread the ground cautiously. As for criticism of the so-called dual control and the system of advisers and administrators, we ourselves do not want to inflict on the people officers whom we can ill spare. The number of competent and able officers is limited. We ourselves want everyone of them, but people must realise that in the successes or failures of these Unions, the Central Government has a great stake. The quickening of the steps and the transfer of power in the States are not the achievements of the States' people alone. The States Ministry has played a major part and it is, therefore, its responsibility to see that efficient and orderly government rules over these territories. Swaraj involves learning by experience. That is proverbially costly but we have to ensure that the cost is not disproportionately high and serious mistakes are prevented. It is not wise or practical politics to rush headlong into experiments and decisions of doubtful wisdom. The position is such that everyone must tread cautiously. Mistakes can be tolerated elsewhere where administration is set on an even key, but where the foundations have not yet been well and properly laid, they cannot be tolerated. We must be mindful of the need of a secular approach to the Indian problem." (Excerpts of Sardar Patel's speech at the inauguration of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), Patiala, July 15, 1948). The book can be purchased from Publications Division Emporia across various locations in India and online at Rs 120 from publications division.nic.in and Amazon India. Views expressed are personal.