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December 2003 - January 2004


Remembering The Sardar: Sardar Patel

Bharat Ratna Sardar Vallabhai Patel's 128th birth anniversary was enthusiastically celebrated by Indians in London joined by many members of British parliament, councillors from various boroughs, the deputy Mayor of Harrow and the Indian High Commissioner Mr. Ronen Sen on 31 October at Kadwa Patidar Samaj, Harrow.

The proceedings began with devotional songs sung by Maya Panchal, Kishorbhai Dhabi and Hiren Chate, followed by a brilliant display of Bharat Natyam 'fusion dance of Krishna , Meerabai and Andaal' presented by three talented girls, Meera, Himanshi and Trusha. Pravinbhai Amin, Chairman of the Society paid tribute to Sardar Patel by recollecting the early years of the Sardar when as a student he harnessed efforts of his fellow students against the teachers who neglected their duties.

He also encouraged the audience to enrol as members of the Sardar Patel Memorial Society which was continuously striving to keep the flame of his memory alive among Indians and the British. A special incentive to new members was the gift of a book on Sardar written by Rajmohan Gandhi. Pravinbhai's proposal to the High Commissioner of India to allow the executive committee to hold at least one function every year at the India House premises in memory of Sardar Patel was immediately agreed by Mr. Ronan Sen, the High Commissioner.

Speaking to the large audience immediately after the spell-binding Bharat Natyam dance , Mr. Ronan Sen dexterously pointed out that the dance was another example of the great work of the Sardar who in true sense united the great sub-continent after independence. The dance was the heritage of South India, the girls performing the dance were born and brought up in the United Kingdom, and their parents hailed from Gujarat, West India. The unification of India was the legacy of the Sardar.

Mr. Bary Gardiner MP from Brent North, a former chairman of 'Labour Friends of India' paid glowing tributes to Sardar Patel whose devices of uniting India were based on established principles of democracy. "That's why India remains a vibrant democracy," said Barry Gardiner .Mr. Gareth Thomas MP from Harrow West, now working as a junior minister in the department of Iinternational development, revealed that he could read a sort of uneasy hostility among the old colonial officers working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office just before and aftter independence. However, things have definitely moved on, and both India and the United Kingdom have built a close partnership and respect and friendship with India is the cornerstone of British foreign policy. He said that it would be very appropriate for an annual event to honour Sardar to be held in the House of Commons.

Mr. Lalubhai Parekh gave an interesting example of the eccentric behaviour of Indian Nawabs and Rajas, who, while playing cricket wwould never be declared out without their own consent. It was the Sardar who got rid of such royalties and built up a democratic India where all are equal in law. He also pointed out that it was the Sardar who was instrumental in rebuilding the great temple of Somnath immediately after independence.

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