Brig. K.G. Behl (Retd.)
President, All India Consumers council, Uttarakhand
When we think of 31st October, we immediately come across two stalwarts of the country who contributed a lot to make the country great. Since both of them executed their duties firmly and with strong hand, both of them were known as iron persons. Both tried to enforce measures to streamline the process of consolidation which they undertook to make country strong. Though no comparison can be made between the works of two but the way they executed their responsibilities brought name and fame to the country.
Sardar Patel will be remembered as the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India. Patel organized relief efforts for refugees fleeing from Punjab and Delhi and worked to restore peace across the nation. He led the task of forging a United India, successfully integrating into the newly independent nation those British Colonial Provinces that had been “allocated” to India. Besides those provinces that had been under direct British rule, approximately 565 self-governing princely states had been released from British sovereignty by the Indian Independence Act of 1947. Employing frank diplomacy with the expressed option to deploy military force, Patel persuaded almost every princely state to accede to India. His commitment to national integration in the newly independent country was total and uncompromising, earning him the sobriquet “Iron Man of India”. He is also affectionately remembered as the “Patron saint of India’s civil servants” for having established the modern all – India services system. He is also called the Unifier of India. A “Run for Unity” was organized throughout the country by the schools / colleges and others to commemorate the event.
On the other hand Indira Gandhi was known for streamlining old Congress stalwarts and consolidating the Party with a strong hand, Nationalising Banks, bringing in Green Revolution by diversifying crops, signing Shimla Agreement with Pakistan and above all created history by bringing confidence in public and Armed Forces by victory over Pakistan and creating Bangladesh making about 93 thousand Pakistani troops to surrender. She was awarded Bharat Ratna for Indian victory over Pakistan. Her signing of Shimla Agreement with Pakistan was equally important, though some people feel that a bigger bargain could have been done with Pakistan at the cost of such a large number of prisoners of war. Even her imposing emergency in the country, though called a black period, was overlooked by the people when she came back with flying colours in 1980 elections. No wonder she was called an iron lady for her strong actions and forceful ways to get her wishes implemented. Homage was paid in her memory at Shakti Sthal and many other places of the country.
Though history is replete with many very important events which took place on this date, in various years and in various countries but the above two stand unique where they have been called as iron man and iron lady in the same country. Both will be remembered for long for their remarkable achievements.
Tributes were paid to Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and Indira Gandhi on this day by arranging different functions to commemorate their deeds.