Rupa & Co
Biographies & Autobiographies
Rites of Passage is an invaluable memoir that spans H.M. Patel's years in the Indian Civil Service. It charts his entry into the civil service in 1927, as well as his election as cabinet secretary in 1946, and his resignation in 1958 that brought a premature end to an illustrious career in the civil services. A greater fate was waiting for him, however. H.M. joined the public sector, and went on to become a widely-respected politician. He became Finance Minister in 1977 and, subsequently, Home Minister of India.
A key player in the attempt to stabilize the country following partition, H.M. recounts the milestones on the way to independence: the labour government's surprise victory in Britain, the Cabinet Mission, the Interim Government, and the final countdown to August 15, 1947. He describes, in detail, the elaborate machinery that was created to aid partition: the Partition Council, the Arbitral Tribunal, and the Expect Committees.
His account of the effort made to bring the communal situation in Delhi in September 1947 under control is a valuable historical document, revealing the role of civil servants in restoring order. It also reveals the unheard of cooperation between ICS officials and political leaders who put aside traditional differences to work together for the sake of the country.
H.M. Patel's life story intertwines his own life with a crucial period of Indian history; it is a story of devastation, hope and transition.
About the Author
Born in Bombay to a middle-class Gujarati family in 1904, H. M. Patel was educated at St. Xavier's School, Bombay, and at Felixstowe, London and Oxford. He joined the Indian Civil Service in 1927. Appointed cabinet secretary before he turned forty, by the viceroy, Lord Wavell, Patel went on to have an illustrious career in public service as Secretary of Foods and Agriculture, Defence Secretary, and Finance Secretary. After his resignation from the ICS in 1958, Patel joined politics. He was the leader of the opposition during the Emergency, and held the positions of Finance Minister and, later, Home Minister. He died on November 30, 1993.