Hirubhai M. Patel

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Hirubhai M. Patel
Born (1904-08-27)27 August 1904
Dharmaj, Bombay Presidency, British India
(now in Gujarat, India)
Died 30 November 1993(1993-11-30) (aged 89)
Occupation Civil servant, politician
Known for National security during the Partition of India (1947)

Hirubhai Mulljibhai Patel CIE (27 August 1904 – 30 November 1993) was an Indian civil servant who played a major role in the issues regarding internal and national security in the first years after the independence of India. From 1977 to 1980, he served as the Finance Minister and later the Home Minister of India.

Early life and career[edit]

Patel was a Gujarati from the town of Dharmaj, Anand district. He graduated from St Catherine's College, Oxford with a major in economics and joined the Indian Civil Service in October 1927. From 1927 to 1932, he served as an assistant collector in Bombay, after which he received attachment to the Central Board of Revenue in 1934. In March 1936, he was appointed as an officiating deputy secretary in the finance department of the Bombay Presidency. From July 1937, he served as the Indian Trade Commissioner in Hamburg, Germany until the outbreak of war, after which he returned to India and was posted as a deputy Trade Commissioner in January 1940. In September 1940, he was appointed a deputy secretary in the Department of Supply, rising to the rank of full secretary by 1945.[1] In the 1946 New Year Honours list, Patel was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE).[2]

One of his benefactors was a member of the erstwhile ICS & former chief justice of the Patna high court

Cabinet secretary[edit]

Patel became cabinet secretary to the Ministry for Home Affairs under Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1946, serving till 1950. Upto independence, Patel worked with Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, the future Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Walter John Christie on the preparation and implementation of the crucial document The Administrative Consequences of Partition.[3]

He was the head of the Emergency Committee administering Delhi in the days following the outbreak of massive violence following the Partition of India in 1947. Patel headed the effort to rehabilitate millions of Hindu and Sikh refugees entering the city, while protecting the Muslims living in the city.

He continued as one of India's highest-ranking civil servants till 1959. He would be Patel's closest aide on curbing the communal violence, fighting the First Kashmir war, and integrating over 500 princely states into the Union with V. P. Menon.

Finance minister[edit]

Following the defeat of Indira Gandhi's Congress Party in the 1977 elections that ended the Indian Emergency, Patel was appointed the Finance Minister by the new Prime Minister Morarji Desai, who was leading India's first non-Congress administration. He changed many of India's socialist economic policies, ending barriers to foreign investment and reducing tariffs while protecting home industries. He was responsible for the policy that all foreign companies must form corporations with an Indian company holding a 50% stake, which caused Coca-Cola to pull out of India, but most others did not.

Home minister[edit]

Patel was later appointed Home Minister when Charan Singh rejoined the cabinet of Morarji Desai as Finance Minister in 1979. Patel was a fervent admirer of Vallabhbhai Patel, and a critic of Jawaharlal Nehru.

Other posts[edit]

Patel was the Chairman of the Gujarat Electricity Board and was a trustee and supporter of the Sardar Patel University in Anand district.

He joined the Swatantra Party of Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari, which was committed to free market economic policies.

Literary career[edit]

He wrote two books, Rites of Passage: A Civil Servant Remembers and The First Flush of Freedom: Recollections and Reflections.

He was a senior ranking functionary of the Sumati Morarjee Shipping Company after his retirement from the Indian civil service.


  1. ^ The India Office and Burma Office List: 1945. Harrison & Sons, Ltd. 1945. p. 296. 
  2. ^ "No. 37407". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1945. p. 11. 
  3. ^ John Christie Morning Drum BACSA 1983 ISBN 0-907799-04-3 pp.95-102.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
C. Subramaniam
Finance Minister of India
Succeeded by
Choudhary Charan Singh