Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

Early Life of

Sardar Vallabhbhai patel

Birth: October 31, 1875

Birth place: Nadiad town, Gujarat

Early life and school education: Karamsad, Petlad and Nadiad.

Parents: Father Jhaverbhai, a farmer, and mother Laad Bai, a simple homemaker

Wife: Jhaverba, who passed away at a very early age in 1909

Children: Daughter Maniben (Born in 1903); Son Dahyabhai (Born in 1905)

Death: December 15, 1950, at Birla House Mumbai

Sardar Vallabhbhai patel

Vallabhbhai Patel (October 31, 1875 – December 15, 1950), the icon of India’s solidarity and integrity and the champion of peasant’s movement in British India, was a political and social leader of India who played a major role in the country’s struggle for Independence and subsequently guided its integration into a united, Independent nation. He is known as the ‘Iron Man of India’. After the great victory of Bardoli peasants’ movement, people named him ‘Sardar’. Vallabhbhai Patel already had a successful practice as a lawyer when he was first inspired by the work and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. Vallabhbhai Patel subsequently organised the peasants of Kheda, Borsad, and Bardoli in Gujarat in a non-violent Civil Disobedience Movement against oppressive policies imposed by the British Raj. In this role, he became the most influential leader in Gujarat under guidance of Mahatma Gandhi. He rose to the leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1931 at the Karachi Congress Session and was at the forefront of all political events from 1931 onwards, at national level. He was a key figure in organising the party for elections in 1934 and 1937 and promoting the Quit India Movement of 1942, which resulted into arrest of almost all the leaders of freedom struggle.

As the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India, Sardar Patel organised relief for refugees in Punjab and Delhi as well as led efforts to restore peace across the nation. Sardar Patel took charge of the task to forge a united India from the 562 semi-autonomous princely states and British-era colonial provinces. Using frank diplomacy backed with the option (and the use) of military action, Sardar Patel’s leadership enabled the accession of almost every princely state. Hailed as the Iron Man of India, he is also remembered as the ‘Patron Saint’ of India’s civil servants for establishing modern all-India services. Sardar Patel was also one of the earliest proponents of property rights and free enterprise in India. His contribution as the Chairman of the Constitutional Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities’ rights, Provincial Constitutions, and Demarcation of Borders of Scheduled Areas are the pillars of the Indian Constitution.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel played a pivotal role in channelling India's unity exhibiting his multifaceted leadership. He had a crucial role in building India in the post-independence years. Sardar Patel pursued the practice of ‘Su-raaj’, meaning good governance, as India's first Home and Deputy Prime Minister. Always rooting for unity, he was also instrumental in mobilising the farmer community of India, as well as bringing together various castes and communities to join the freedom struggle.

Much before his foray into the freedom struggle one can see the force of his iron will-power in his passionate pursuit of law as a career. Gifted with an ingenious mind, Sardar always wanted to become a barrister. However, in those days, to realise this dream, one had to go to England. Having been born to a common farmer's family, he had no financial means to join a college even in India, let alone travel to England.

However, such hindrances were never a deterrent for the young man with steely determination and he always had a way to achieve his dreams. He was self-taught and borrowed books from a lawyer friend to study from home and for practical training, he started attending court sessions to closely observe every argument being made. The young man passed with flying colours and started his practice in Godhra.

Another facet of his character and compassion is seen later on. When he had the financial capability to travel abroad, he first let his elder brother Vitthalbhai, who too was a lawyer, to go to England for higher studies in law. Only after his brother's return did he himself leave for England in 1910, where he stood first in the Barrister-at-Law examination. He returned to India in 1913.

Sardar Patel's foray into the freedom struggle was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi when they met at a meeting in Godhra. From then on, they became friends and Patel started following Mahatma Gandhi's activities, especially after his success in the Champaran Satyagraha.

The defining moment for Sardar came when, in 1918, Kheda was inundated and devastated by floods. With their crops damaged, farmers asked for relief from the heavy taxes the British government had ensued, but to no avail. Gandhiji joined the fight but could not devote his entire attention to Kheda's struggle.

As Gandhiji was looking for a person to take up the cause of the farmers in his absence, Sardar volunteered. As always, he never did anything half-hearted, and his first step was giving up his well-paying legal practice and joining the non-cooperation movement by switching over to Khadi clothes. The struggle was a resounding success with the British Government agreeing to hold talks with Sardar, and later agreeing to his terms of rolling back the tax rates. From then on, there was no looking back for this Son of the Soil.

Paving the way for a clean and planned administration for Ahmedabad, Sardar was further involved in the administration of the city. Prior to joining the freedom movement, he was elected in Ahmedabad Municipality by one vote from Dariyapur Constituency on January 5, 1917, when he was still pursuing his legal practice. He was elected Ahmedabad's Municipal President in 1924 and remained till 1928, during which Ahmedabad saw the extension of electricity supply, some major educational reforms, city planning, water supply and distribution systems and several other public welfare schemes.

After the successful Kheda Satyagraha, Nagpur Flag Satyagraha and Borsad Satyagraha, in 1928 Sardar Patel took up cudgels on behalf of the farmers in Bardoli once again who opposed an arbitrary increase in land taxes. In another resounding victory over the draconian British taxation rules, Sardar organised the farmers, told them not to pay a single paisa of tax, and fought the oppression till the British government bowed down. Another definite struggle was the Disobedience Movement in 1930, following which he was arrested on March 7, 1930. Later, he was released and was elected Congress President in the 1931 session in Karachi. In August 1942, the Indian National Congress launched the Quit India Movement, following which Sardar Patel along with many other freedom leaders was jailed for three years.

Soon after the Indian Independence, some of the Maharajas and Nawabs of the 562 princely states believed they would become independent rulers of their respective kingdoms, similar to the pre-British era. They argued that the Government of free India should treat them as equals. It was Sardar Patel's insight, wisdom and diplomacy that finally convinced the monarchs who agreed to accede with the Indian Republic.

Major Facts:

  • He led farmers in various successful Satyagrahas in Kheda 1918, Borsad 1924 and Bardoli 1928.

  • Elected as Ahmedabad’s Municipality President in 1924 and worked till April 1928.

  • Elected President of the Indian National Congress in 1931 in Karachi Session.

  • Independent India’s first Deputy Prime Minister, Home Minister and Information and Broadcasting Minister.

  • The Architect of United India post-Independence.

  • Held the charge of Prime Minister of India four times on different occasions till 1950.

  • Charted the Indian Constitution by drafting provisions for important subjects as a Chairman.

  • Posthumously, conferred with Bharat Ratna in 1991.

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