Washington, DC – Freezing temperatures and gusty winds did not dampen the enthusiasm of Indian Americans when dozens of them converged on the National Mall in Washington, DC, to honor Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the architect of the modern day Indian Union who united the splitter royal states into its fold.
The event was inaugurated by Shiv Ratan, the Counselor of Community Affairs from the Embassy of India in the US capita,l by offering homage to Sardar Patel on the 63rd anniversary of his death.
Utsav Chakrabarti, an ardent leader and active participant in community events, emphasized the need for people from different parts of India to unite in the effort to memorialize the contribution of Sardar Patel. He also said Sardar Patel’s memorial will remind the nation of a billion of its place in the world and the ideals to which future generations should aspire.
After paying respects to Sardar Patel, students from the University of Maryland sang patriotic songs and the Bollywood Fitness Dance Group of DC performed to the tunes of foot-tapping Bhangra and Garba tunes from Dooniya. The participants, who came from different parts of the United States, seemed to be enjoying the event despite the weather. Masala chai (spice tea), steaming coffee and snacks were served to warm the participants. The event ended with an energized march around the National Mall to Capitol Hill.
Sardar Patel, one of the leaders of the Indian National Congress and one of the founding fathers of the Republic of India, was also the first home minister and deputy prime minister of India. Patel forged a united India from the British colonial provinces allocated to India and more than five hundred self-governing princely states, released from British suzerainty by the Indian Independence Act of 1947. Using frank diplomacy, backed with the option and use of military force, Patel’s leadership persuaded almost every princely state to join the Indian Union, thus earning him the names “Iron Man of India” and “Bismarck of India.” Modern day Indian bureaucracy remembers him as the “patron saint” of India’s civil servants for establishing the modern All India Services.