Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel took over as the Home Minister of nascent nation at a very important juncture in history and devoted himself wholeheartedly to make sure that the nation which was already partitioned remained united and intact.
Integrating more than 560 princely states, Patel and his secretary of the ministry of states V.P. Menon imparted geographic coherence to India and prevented its Balkanization, a fate which many predicted would befall the newborn state sooner than later. This achievement occurred without shedding a drop of blood.He is also known as the “Bismarck of India”.
An administrator by instinct, Patel sought to protect the privileges of the Indian Civil Service officers . He was a major driving force behind the liberal industrial policy resolution of 1948 . Patel was among the few to see the dangers from China’s imminent takeover of Tibet.
Patel advocated a series of practical measures designed to strengthen India’s position: accelerated road building in the frontier areas, strengthening of India’s military capabilities, moves to better integrate the northeastern territories into India.
On Kashmir issue Patel had advised Nehru against going to the UN. Patel was a key force behind the appointment of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar as the chairman of the drafting committee, and the inclusion of leaders from a diverse political spectrum in the process of writing the constitution.
Patel was a senior leader in the Constituent Assembly of India and was responsible in a large measure for shaping India’s constitution. He worked closely with Muslim leaders to end separate electorates and the more potent demand for reservation of seats for minorities.He was responsible for the measure that allows the President to appoint Anglo-Indians to Parliament.
His intervention was key to the passage of two articles that protected civil servants from political involvement and guaranteed their terms and privileges . He was also instrumental in founding the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, and for his defence of Indian civil servants from political attack, he is known as the “patron saint” of India’s services.
He guided farmers to create the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union Limited, which preceded the Amul milk products brand . Patel was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, in 1991. It was announced in 2014 that his birthday, 31 October, would become an annual national celebration known as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day).
However Patel has been criticised for an alleged bias against Muslims during the time of Partition. He was criticised by Maulana Azad and others for readily plumping for partition. Patel was also criticised by supporters of Subhas Chandra Bose for acting coercively to put down politicians not supportive of Gandhi . He was criticised for being inclined to support the West in the Cold war era.