I convey my heartfelt tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 140th birth anniversary. Vallabhbhai Patel was one of the great social leaders of India. He played a crucial role during the freedom struggle of India and was instrumental in the integration of over 500 princely states into the Indian Union. He is truly the architect of Modern India.
Vallabhbhai Patel was born on October 31, 1875 in Gujarat to Zaverbhai and Ladbai. He was an Indian barrister and statesman, and one of the founders of the Republic of India. He was a social leader who played a leading role in the country’s struggle for independence and guided its integration into a united, independent nation. In India and elsewhere, he was often addressed as Sardar, which means Chief in Hindi, Urdu and Persian.
He was raised in the countryside of Gujarat. Vallabhbhai Patel was employed in successful practice as a lawyer. Patel subsequently organised peasants from Kheda, Borsad, and Bardoli in Gujarat in non-violent civil disobedience against oppressive policies imposed by the British Raj; in this role, he became one of the most influential leaders in Gujarat. He rose to the leadership of the Indian National Congress and was at the forefront of rebellions and political events, organising the party for elections in 1934 and 1937, and promoting the Quit India movement.
As the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India, Patel organised relief for refugees in Punjab and Delhi, and led efforts to restore peace across the nation. Patel took charge of the task to forge a united India from the British colonial provinces allocated to India and more than five hundred self-governing princely states, released from British suzerainty by the Indian Independence Act 1947. Using frank diplomacy, backed with the option and use of military force, Patel’s leadership persuaded almost every princely state. Often known as the “Iron Man of India” or “Bismarck of India”, he is also remembered as the “Patron Saint” of India’s civil servants for establishing modern all-India services.