About Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel:
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (October 31, 1875 – December 15, 1950) was one of the founding fathers of the Republic of India. He was the first Home Minister and the first Deputy Prime Minister of India. He is known to be a social leader of immense strength and determination who played an unparalleled role in the country’s struggle for independence and its subsequent integration into a united, sovereign nation. Sardar was a man who put into practice ideals such as truth, fearlessness, respect for physical labor, need for upliftment of the backward classes, renunciation of personal comforts and tastes for the greater good, and respect for all religions. Through all these values he exemplified the qualities of a true visionary. In addition to all these traits, he was a staunch supporter of Suraaj – Good Governance. In the context of today’s India, Sardar’s values of unwavering dedication to one’s cause, unity, and good governance are more relevant than ever and hence need to be imbibed in our everyday lives.
In the words of India’s first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad – “The achievements of Sardar will be written in letters of gold and will occupy an immortal place in the history ofIndia.”
Born into a simple farmer's family, Sardar was a man of the masses. He worked right at the grassroots level, inspiring and mobilizing the farmers' community to be a part of the nationwide freedom struggle. Patel had constant confrontations with the British, over whom he won several decisive battles. In Bardoli Satyagraha, where he fought against the burdening British tax hike of 30 per cent, he not only got the tax revoked but also ensured that the land captured by the British authorities was returned to its rightful owners. For this contribution, as a tribute to his leadership capabilities, the farmers of Bardoli anointed him with the title - 'Sardar'. A brilliant administrator, he stoically toiled towards bettering the lives of his countrymen, and helping those in need. During the Borsad Plague of 1935, he organized massive efforts to fight the epidemic. Without seeking governmental assistance, he mobilized volunteers to travel from village to village and house to house to destroy the rats and disinfect the affected areas, thereby quickly bringing Plague under control. A firm believer of non-violence, he efficiently organized several initiatives for social causes.
Architect of Modern India:
In 1947, when the British left, India was not a united country. More than 550 separate princely states existed in the Indian mainland. These states were given an option to either be a part of India or of Pakistan or to be independent. Some of these prominent states included Hyderabad, Mysore, Baroda and Jammu & Kashmir. Had it not been for Sardar, these states would have been different countries and the idea of a united country would have been unimaginable. Patel took charge of the task to negotiate with and integrate more than five hundred self-governing princely states. Through his sheer dedication and hard work, he single-handedly ensured the union of over 550 princely states within India in a span of just 2.5 years when the others thought the task would take at least 15 years to complete. Therefore, he came to be known as the Architect of modern India. In his book, India Wins Freedom, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad says - “He (Sardar) made his choice out of the two courses that come before a man, namely, would he live for his country or for himself. He chose his country.”
Iron Man of India:
Sardar Patel epitomized good governance; the management of Ahmedabad as its municipal president, the disaster management at the time of Gujarat floods, and his decisive role in the establishment of the Indian Civil Services are testimonies to his immense administrative capabilities. Such was the power of his governance that the TIME Magazine described him as the only leader who could provide solutions to problems that seemed insurmountable for India on the eve of the withdrawal of British from the Indian sub-continent. For these traits that he exhibited, he is known as the 'Iron Man of India'. Sardar defended the inclusion of Article 283-A, which gave a constitutional guarantee to the terms and privileges granted to the offices of the Indian Civil Services (ICS), opting for service in independent India. This was imperative for the existence of ICS in India. This achievement earned him the title ‘Patron Saint’ of India's civil servants.