On 12th September, Prabha Khaitan Foundation organised a virtual session of the Author’s afternoon with Hindol Sengupta. He is a celebrated author, media personality, he has won multiple awards for his 9 books and is the Vice President and head of research at Invest India, the national investment promotion agency of the government of India. He is the only indian to have won the Wilbur Award. In conversation with him was Mrs. Oindrilla Dutt.
He believes that Sardar Patel is a misunderstood figure in India and has been for a very long time. He says that all historical personalities are a byproduct of the stories told about them, if their stories are not told in the right way then their importance diminishes. He believes that Sardar Patel is, and has been, a misunderstood person. The problem with his legacy is that out of the three people that were at the forefront of the Congress party when India got its independence, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, he is the only one that neglected to tell his own story. He believed in creating history and not writing it. Hindol believes this to not be true and to be a mistake. If in such a seminal event and such a seminal man does not tell his story, his story will remain untold unless one goes through the archives and writes their story. Even though there are letters written by Sardar Patel one does not know things from his perspective which is one the problems in why he is not so well known. Reading about Sardar Patel makes one realise how hard sovereignty is and what it took to build it.
Sardar Patel used to consider himself as Eklavya and Mahatma Gandhi as Dronacharya. Hindol believes that just as the sacrifice of Eklavya’s thumb, Sardar sacrificed the seat of the Prime Minister of India. Even though Sardar was a very stoic person but with every stoic person there is a vulnerability hidden deep inside a person and for Sardar, that vulnerability was Gandhi and his wife Kasturba. He had lost his parents at a very young age and they became maternal and parental figures for him.
Had it not been for Patel and his decision of sending the Indian Air Force to Kashmir to bring the instrument of accession, Kashmir would not have been a part of India. Even when he was sick and was dying slowly , Patel kept working hard until his last day.
He says that even though there was deep affection between Nehru and Patel, there is no denying that there were conflicts between them too. They were always a part of each other’s lives and neither one could have completely erased the other out of their life completely.