Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fight over Sardar Patel’s Legacy: How this Iron Man also belongs to Indian civil servants

Whose Legacy? Patel's coat in a museum
AS BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has been at loggerhead with Congress biggies including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the legacy of India’s first home minister Sardar Vallahbhai Patel, BoI here presents a few facts to demonstrate how India’s Iron Man, Patel also belongs to pan-Indian civil servants who are not supposed to…take any parochial or chauvinistic outlook. Many call Sardar Patel the “Bismarck of India” for his role in the integration of various Indian states into one nation. But for the civil servants, he was the “Patron Saint” conceiving and implementing modern-day all-India services. It was April 21, 1947, Sardar Patel addressed the probationers at the All India Administrative Service Training School at Metcalfe House, Delhi. The Civil Services Day is celebrated every year on that day (April 21).
If you are a civil servant, you are welcome to give new ideas on the format and the topics of the panel discussion of the Civil Service Day by mailing at, according to a notice issued by the department of administrative reforms and public grievances (DARPG) that organizes the annual event. In fact, DARPG itself is housed in New Delhi’s Sardar Patel Bhawan. The Bhawan also houses other departments including the ministry of statistics and programme implementation.
Also, the Hyderabad-based national police academy that trains Indian Police Service officers once they are recruited into the service, is named after Patel. The Academy is called Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy.
As contemporary history has recorded how Patel’s early demise in 1950 was a shocker to many civil servants of those days. As the news of his death in Mumbai’s Birla House reached Delhi, over 1,500 officers of India's civil and police services congregated to mourn at Patel’s residence in the capital and pledged “complete loyalty and unremitting zeal” in India's service, according to Wikipedia quoting “Panjabi, Indomitable Sardar” (Page no: 157–158).
One of the closest confidants of Patel was a civil servant named VP Menon. He was instrumental in helping Patel during those difficult days of partition and integration of independent India between 1945 and 1950. After independence, many senior political leaders of those days were reluctant to listen to the civil servants working under them, as those officials under the British jailed many Congress leaders during pre-independence time. In that context, Patel-Menon bonhomie and mutual trust helped creating a new neta-babu equation in those days, and Patel did not succumb to pressure of some of his colleagues who demanded stripping of privileges enjoyed by top bureaucrats of those days. Some political leaders even wanted to disband the civil services altogether.
But after Patel’s death, Menon could not survive in the newly formed IAS cadre. He left the elite service to write books on partition and integration, and worked full-time with Swatantra Party.


  1. Amazingly good information. Keep it up

  2. Today the officers have become babus, they crawl when asked to bend, throw ethics to the wind to get personal benefits, will do anything for after retirement job. this is current state of civil service. they are ganging up against honest officers. look at Khemka case. No officer in Government of India has met cent percent targets, yet they selectively chargesheet honest officers who have guts to fight the system and refuse to confirm. I wish the Indian Civil Service is disbanded.