The article “Who betrayed Sardar Patel” (Nov. 19) left me spellbound by the righteousness and just character of our nation’s founding fathers. They had a dream called India where justice and fairness will be an integral part. They were not corrupted by power and stood by what they said. Forget 20 years, our politicians fail to keep their promises for even 20 days now. I can only imagine how embarrassed the great men must feel now to see what has become of their dream. It is no exaggeration, but India’s bane is not poverty, hunger or pollution but our politicians who think nothing beyond furthering their interests.
In this connection, it is worth narrating how the main rail artery of Kerala, between Shoranur and Cochin was built — by raising funds after offering the collateral security of gold to the Railways. The gold was owned by the erstwhile Cochin State-run Temple of Sree Poornatrayeesa in Tripunithura. The Railways have stopped the payment of interest for the gold and have glossed over the timely and citizen-friendly act by the then rulers.
The article revealed the diplomatic angle to the personality of the “Iron man” of India. It is quite ironic that he might have learnt this from the British, who used the carrot and stick policy to rule the country. This apart, it is worth mentioning that Patel’s acumen was also instrumental in upholding the morality of India. The Nizam went to the International Court of Justice and even the U.N. for Hyderabad’s independence. Considering the present day hostility in bilateral relations with many of our small neighbours, we truly miss a man of his calibre.
Ajay T. Joseph,
The writer appears to have overlooked the forces behind Sardar Patel and the integration of India. During the freedom struggle, the conditions in the princely states were quite different from those in British India. In these states, people were denied civil rights which included even the right to protest and the right to represent. Further, the rate of taxes was much higher. The abolition of the Privy Purses was no betrayal of Sardar Patel. Rather, it was a true reflection of the spirit of the people of the day as well of those who struggled for freedom.
Mr. Datar has failed to recognise the power of democracy, which is essentially to reflect the aspirations of the common man. Contracts and agreements can always be brokered and should not be treated as a decree carved in stone for generations to endure and suffer. Indira Gandhi had the mandate of the people to effect the change. If the need to maintain the Privy Purses was felt overwhelmingly, it would have become a political issue, which again explains why it was not brought up by successive governments. It must be noted that the Nawab of Pataudi Jr., who contested from Gurgaon on this agenda, lost his deposit convincingly for not being able to even garner five per cent of the vote. If he was indeed the benevolent king, his subjects would have overwhelmingly voted for his cause, and, in turn, theirs.
It should not be forgotten that the Privy Purses were ended only after amending the Constitution which requires a two-thirds majority. Calling it a betrayal of Patel amounts to insulting Parliament. The writer talks about the surrender by the princes of railway systems, jagir land, aircraft, etc. Whatever assets surrendered were not the personal property of royalty but that which belonged to the people of democratic India.
Baikadi Suryanarayana Rao,
Sardar Patel did the best thing he could and we thank him. But we must remember that things change in the long run. Rather than resort to violence, being a soft-hearted nation and one that shuns violence, we gave our rulers a chance.
Mohan James Chacko,
Withdrawal of the Privy Purses was a social commitment to make this country a real Republic. It should not be seen as a betrayal of Sardar Patel’s legacy or prestige. The Constitution is amended a number of times to make it suitable and dynamic to the prevailing conditions of the day. We have even amended it to remove “Socialistic Pattern” and made it “Socialist” in the Preamble. It is a different issue that the government is rushing towards corporatisation of everything, which is a deliberate move away from the path of socialism. Is this not a deep betrayal?