On Wednesday 11th November, an Indian historian and a renouned journalist delivered a lecture around the contributions of the Iron man of India at the Nehru Centre. Organised by the High Commission of India to the UK, Hindol Sengupta addressed members of the Indian diaspora about Sardar Patel, The Man Who Saved India.
“It is a well-known fact that Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel differed on #Kashmir. But we forget that the nation must begin with the very boundaries of what constitutes that nation. And Patel must be remembered for the man who put forward the cartographic imagination of the idea of India.
“As people dispute many things about Nehru and Gandhi, some may even dispute about Patel. However, the coming together of the erstwhile British India and the union of princely states of India in 1947 would have been far more difficult than it was,” said Sengupta.
Today the statue of Unity showcasing Sardar Patel’s stature has triggered much debate in Indian politics and at a polarised time when Sengupta says that history is perceived to be highly polemical, it is important to document segments of history lesser written about. But, ironically, seventy years later little is understood or appreciated about Patel's enormous contribution to the making of India. Caricatured in political debate, all the nuances of Patel's difficult life and the daring choices he made are often lost. In his book, Sengupta highlights that if Mahatma Gandhi was the spiritual core of India's freedom struggle and Jawaharlal Nehru its romantic idealism, it was Sardar Patel who brought in the vital pragmatism which held together the national movement and the first ideas of independent India. A naturally stoic man, Patel, unlike Gandhi or Nehru, wrote no personal history. He famously argued that its was better to create history than write it. And, perhaps it is for this reason that Sengupta decided to document some personalised facts about Patel and his family life.