Sardar Vallabhai Patel – Vision for Modern India

V.Srinivas, IAS Secretary DARPG
V.Srinivas, IAS Secretary DARPG

31 Oct, 2023

“The main task before India today is to consolidate herself into a well-knit and united power…” Sardar Vallabhai Patel, 11 August 1947, Speaking to Delhi citizens during Liberty Celebrations

Sardar Vallabhai Patel served as the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India from 1947 to 1950, with a deep commitment to national integration which earned him the sobriquet of Iron Man of India.  In a speech at the Island Grounds, Madras on 23 February 1948 Sardar Patel spoke on “Building a Strong India” in which he urged the Nation to exert maximum effort to go forward after the prolonged struggle for the country’s independence. To quote Sardar Patel “Free India is only a child of year and half. It has yet to learn to walk; it has to grow, to be strong, and its future depends on how we build today. Therefore, we have to nurse it carefully; we have to feed, clothe and strengthen it properly. It is our good fortune that we have here a rare opportunity to build our own country in our own fashion. History will record what we are doing today.”

The first requisite for Sardar Patel’s vision of building a strong, free India is unity and peace, he said that by common endeavor, we can rise the country to new greatness, while a lack of unity will expose us to fresh calamities. Sardar Patel urged all Indians to forget differences of caste and creed and remember that we are all Indians with equal opportunities, equal rights and equal responsibilities. India faced immense challenges to national unification in the first year of freedom with the integration of princely states of Junagad and Jammu & Kashmir and Hyderabad and showed immense courage and resilience in combating divisive forces. Sardar Patel envisaged an India that will be flowing with milk and honey by overcoming the short period of post-independence crisis given its immense wealth in mineral resources, brains and the capacity use them.

Sardar Patel’s Independence Day message of 15 August 1948 said the first year of freedom in India was a year of sorrow and tragedies, but India managed to survive all threats to the very foundations of its freedom with indomitable courage and stern determination. He continued that if we behave with soldierly discipline and sense of responsibility, there is ample justification for sober optimism. He further elaborated in his 75th birthday address of 31 October 1949 that Indians are not men of straws as Churchill once called us, but men who had infused life into Nation building by overcoming centuries of colonialism, with the potential for building economic security, food security with the capacity to protect the Nation’s frontiers against all external aggression. The architect of national unification is credited with the creation of the All India Services, a concept enshrined in Article 312 of the Constitution to ensure Nation’s unity while fostering a merit-based and uniform administration.

On 31 October 2018, Prime Minister Modi dedicated the world’s tallest statue, “The Statue of Unity” to the Nation. The 182-metre statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel was dedicated to the Nation on his birth anniversary. It represents the vision of a strong and inclusive India and represents the Nation’s tribute to a national hero who has dedicated every moment of his life for ‘Ek Bharat, Shresht Bharat’. Sardar Patel was the biggest proponent for a strong, inclusive, sensitive, alert, humble and developed India. He is not just a historical figure but lives in the hearts of every Indian, and the spirit of national unity that he propagated is the first pre-requisite for building a strong and free India. Prime Minister Modi has said that he is walking in the footsteps of Sardar Patel in strengthening the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat Shresht Bharat”, the great Mahayagya of social, economic and constitutional integration is happening in the country.

Prime Minister Modi as a true disciple of Sardar Patel, has carried froward the vision of ‘Ek Bharat’, as a Nation of equal opportunity. He has said that the true character of One India should be an India whose women have more than one opportunity, an India where Dalits, deprived tribals and forest dwellers and every citizen of the country should feel equal. An India where there is no discrimination in facilities like house, electricity, water and there should be equal rights. Prime Minister Modi has exhorted the Nation for ‘Sabka Prayas’, and cited the collective efforts during the country’s fight against corona, where India manufactured essential medicines, established new hospitals, and crossed the milestone 100 crore vaccine doses because of the efforts of every Indian. On National Unity Day 2022, Prime Minister Modi urged the Nation to pursue the cause of Atma Nirbhar Bharat while taking up the challenge of innovation in farming, manufacturing and even in small matters like cleanliness.

India celebrates Civil Services Day on 21 April, a date marked by Sardar Patel’s address to the first batch of IAS recruits in Metcalfe House New Delhi in 1947. The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances as the nodal department for conduct of National Civil Services Day event on 21 April every year, has contributed to the vision of Sardar Patel in Building a Strong India. From 2014-2023, the size, scale and learning paradigms of the National Civil Services Day have enlarged significantly to reach every Civil Servant, every District across all States of the Nation. This is no mean task, as the Department has strived for excellence in recognizing meritocracy by putting in place an elaborate system of evaluation and outreach. Further the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances has contributed to institutionalizing swachhata and reducing pendency in Government through the successful implementation of Special Campaigns in the years 2021-2023. During the Amrit Kaal Period, the officials of DARPG have drawn inspiration from the words of Sardar Vallabhai Patel to scale new heights of unity and excellence in the country.

The DARPG joins the National Unity Day 2023 celebrations with a deep sense of reverence and steely resolve to continue its pursuit of excellence in Building a Strong India.