Source: The Hitavada      Date: 01 Nov 2018 10:49:17

THE symbolism of the 182-meter statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is greater than just the statistical fact of it being the tallest one in the world at the present moment. For every Indian, Sardar Patel is an eternal symbol of the nation’s unity and integrity which he made possible in one of the trickiest political situations anywhere in the world. Besides this, Sardar Patel also stands as one of the greatest examples of how a disciplined worker attaches the greatest importance to the larger interest of the organisation and the nation over and above his or her own desire or dream. For every Indian, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, thus, stands the tallest as an example of a grass-root-level worker, a top-level leader, a terrific administrator, a great patriot, a very successful legal luminary who gave up lucrative practice to participate in freedom struggle, the man who stepped back from the chance of becoming India’s first Prime Minister only because his leader and mentor Mahatma Gandhi expressed his desire that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru be made the PM-- all rolled into one! In the consideration of every Indian, to have the world’s tallest statue of Sardar Patel, is the most natural thing to happen. 

There still are countless Indians who rue the fact that Sardar Patel could not be the country’s Prime Minister. But when they do that, they do not wish to demean Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. All they want to convey is that as Prime Minister, perhaps Sardar Patel could have been a more appropriate candidate. For, as this section thinks, it was Sardar Patel who ensured joining of over 550 Princely States with the new Union of India. As the British Paramountcy lapsed, a very curious -- and also dangerous -- phase prevailed in the country. The crafty British allowed the Princely States the freedom to join either India or Pakistan. In such an uncertain condition, it was Sardar Patel who handled the challenged with iron hand and saw to it that most States join India and not Pakistan. That single achievement can be described as the world’s greatest bloodless coup in entire history.

It may not be possible for younger generations to know what all that action actually meant for a newly freed country like India, but those who saw things in their lifetime knew what an uphill task it was. It will not be possible even for all future historians to imagine a scenario had Sardar Patel not been there or if he had not taken the leadership in his hand to deal with one of the most tricky political situations in the world. Such is the greatness of Sardar Patel’s contribution to India’s emergence as a nation of subcontinental proportions.

Subsequently as well, when China started troubling India in the early years post-Independence, it was Sardar Patel who offered a wise counsel to Pandit Nehru and retained a sense of sanity in India’s response. It was he who had realised that China could never be a friend and had cautioned the nation about hostile possibilities. He did not live long to serve India when she needed his services most. Yet, despite that, whatever Sardar Patel did for the country was almost unique and beyond compare.

It is against this background that calling Sardar Patel’s statue as Statue of Unity is most appropriate. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has done something very important when he led from the front the Rs. 3,000-crore project of the Statue of Unity. Statistics do play their own role, and the world will often feel a sense of awe at the tallest statue. Yet, India will always remain indebted to the idea of building the world’s tallest statue as a tribute to Sardar Patel. The spot may become the world’s tourist attraction. But for the common Indians, it will act as a point of eternal inspiration to keep serving the nation in any condition. The statue, thus, will prove more than just a physical landmark; it will serve as India’s eternal spiritual totem pole.