Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel (31 October 1875 – 15 December 1950), popularly known as a ‘Iron Man of India’ was born in an agriculturist family of Kaira district. He was a imminent Barrister and statesman but gave up his practice for the sake of his country. He joined the Congress and became an associate of Mahatma Gandhi. Because of his national view and great love for his country, which was a sin in the eyes of the English, he had to go to jail several times. But all these obstacles did not deter him from the path which he had chosen for himself.
Further, His real work began after the Independence of the country when acting as the Home Minister he brought about 600 states within the Indian Republic. It was a very difficult task because some of these states were very powerful and which would not easily give up their individuality. But Sardar Patel tackled the menace very carefully and both by ‘advice’ and ‘pressure’ he brought about the integration of the Indian states under the Indian government.
As the first Home Minister and Deputy PM of India, He organised relief for refugees in Punjab and Delhi, and led efforts to restore peace across the Nation. He 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. After the rehabilitation of the refugees, another great ‘menace’ was the ‘princely states’. During the time of independence, India was not one but two: “British India” or a great part of the country under the British government or sizeable region of the country under the Indian princes living under the paramountcy of British crown.
However, The Indian Independence Act 1947 completely permitted the Indian states to decide their prospect. It allowed to join either the Indian Dominion or the Pakistan Dominion or remain independent. Above provision was a mischievous design of the British Government to destroy the territorial integrity of India. If all the princely states had decided to pull in different directions, there was a possibility of several islands of independent and semi-independent states within India leading to chaos in the country. But fortunately India had a great organizer like Patel who by his foresight, statesmanship, and inherent ability fix the whole menace remarkably.
While the job of reconstructing India – territorially and emotionally – was immense. Entire nation was going through a period of mayhem. There were forces at play which wanted a divided nation. The central question for leaders like Mahatma Gandhi at the time of partition was whether there will be two nations once British are gone or 565 different nations. At such a time, responsibility of reconstruction of India fell in the able hands of Iron Man – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
He appealed to the princes to accept this instrument and accede to Indian Union. Slowly and slowly most of the states were merged in the Indian & the danger of India’s unity and security was removed. Some of these states were merged with the adjoining provinces, some were grouped into unions, some were allowed to remain as separate units while others were placed under the control of the central government.
Patel was very much aware that ‘you will not have a united India if you do not have a good all-India Service’, therefore before embarking on reorganization of states, he build confidence in the ‘Steel Frame’ or the Indian civil services. Thus, he worked tirelessly to build a consensus with the princely states but did not hesitate in employing methods of Sama, Dama, Dand and Bhed where ever necessary. Patel along with his aide VP Menon designed ‘Standstill Agreements and Instrument of Accession’ accommodating requests and demands from various rulers.
‘VP Menon’ who ably assisted Sardar Patel in this enormous task writes in The Story of the integration of the Indian States, ‘India is one geographical entity. Yet, throughout her long and chequered history, she never achieved political homogeneity. Today, for the first time in the country’s history, the writ of a single central Government runs from Kailasa to Kanyakumari, from Kathiawar to Kamarupa (the old name of Assam).’ Sardar Patel played an instrumental role in creating this India.
Thus, The different patterns of administration in the princely states were brought into line with that of the provinces. This policy of integration and merger united the country into one political framework. Hence, He had not only steered the nation out of problems at the time of freedom but also contributed greatly to consolidate the “small princely kingdoms” that wanted to secede from India after the British had left. Above was the long term vision of patel that integrated the nation into a single thread by using his diplomacy and strategies.
He was very impressed by Mahatma Gandhi’s success in the ‘Champaran Satyagraha’, wherein he had confronted the British for the sake of oppressed farmers in the region. In 1927, he organized the ‘Bardoli Satyagraha Movement’ for the welfare of the farmers. Sardar Patel achieved great success and won the title ‘Sardar’. In 1931, he was elected as the President of the Karachi Session of the Congress with astonishing speed to dismantle the history of imperialism and create the geography of unity with the spirit of nationalism.
On November 13, 1947, Sardar Patel, the then deputy Prime Minister of India, vowed to rebuild Somnath Temple. Somnath had been destroyed and built several times in the past and the story of its resurrection from ruins this time would be symbolic of the story of the resurgence of India. The then President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad speaking at the inaugural ceremony at the temple said, “It is my view that the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple will be complete on that day when not only a magnificent edifice will arise on this foundation, but the mansion of India’s prosperity will be really that prosperity of which the ancient temple of Somnath was a symbol.” He added, “The Somnath temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction.”
Our history is gratefully witness to the fact that whether some political ideology gives him recognition or not, the young generation doesn’t want to forget him. Thus, the youngsters across the world are associated with it. As a result, when the opportunity to serve came before us we commemorated the contributions made by the ‘Iron Man of India’ in a featured manner and will continue with it in every generation.
Talking about the Statue of Unity at Kevadiya in Narmada district of Gujarat, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Dec 14 stated that, “I am told, and am happy to know, his statue is receiving double the number of visitors (as compared to) Statue of Liberty in America. Whoever visits India must visit Sardar Patel’s statue and know about his contribution,”. The country needs to keep growing “to meet the growing expectations of people”. “India is today the world’s fastest growing economy because of changes (brought about) by central government and state governments. But we need to keep it fast growing to meet the growing expectation of people,” the vice president mentioned on 14th December 2019.
Significantly, The ‘Statue of Unity’ the world’s tallest statue, the 182 metre height, it has been successfully completed completed in October 2018, at a cost of ₹2,989 crore. At 182 metres tall, not just in height, but it also stand tall for academic, historical, national and spiritual values. The ‘Statue of Unity’ has been marked as a India’s world tourism development. It is being built not only to remember India’s freedom struggle but also to inculcate Sardar Patel’s visionary ideology and thoughts of unity, patriotism, inclusive growth and the good governance.
In other words, It is a symbol of the ‘unity of hearts’ and the ‘geographical integrity’ of our motherland. It is a reminder that divided, we may not be even able to face ourselves. United, we can face the world and scale new heights of growth and glory. It symbolizes Patel’s impeccable work of uniting the disintegrated groups of nearly 565 princely states after the independence and building the Indian State. It stands as a tribute to the extraordinary administrative skills and bravery shown by the then home minister Patel in uniting India after the bloody partition. In short, He played a significant role as the Unifier of country, Great Organiser and India’s First Home Minister.
However, There were many who thought that a diverse country like India can never remain united. They considered our diversity our biggest weakness. But Sardar Patel converted this into our biggest strength. India is following the path shown by him and is moving towards becoming the world’s greatest economic and strategic power. It is Patel’s efforts that have led our country to what it is today. Thus, India becomes a worldwide tourist attraction, PM Modi already has another giant statue of a warrior king in the state of Maharashtra, set to be ready by 202, it can pave a new way to serve the goal of One India, Noble India, ultimately providing a great boost to India’s tourism development, worldwide.
Tributes to the great Sardar Patel on his Punya Tithi. We remain eternally inspired by his exceptional service to our nation.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 15, 2019
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 15 paid tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 69th death anniversary, In a tweet, PM Modi stated that, “people remain eternally inspired by his exceptional service to the nation”. “Tributes to the great Sardar Patel on his punya tithi (death anniversary). We remain eternally inspired by his exceptional service to our nation,”. Meanwhile, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar and Union Home Minister Amit Shah also paid tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his death anniversary today.
I am told that barring a few occasions, Sardar Patel University has maintained its half-a-century long tradition of holding its Annual Convocation on 15th December every year as an institutional gesture of commemorating the Death Anniversary of Sardar Patel. pic.twitter.com/rspRVhE6bq— Vice President of India (@VPSecretariat) December 15, 2019
On Dec 14, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu stated that history has not done justice to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the country’s first home minister. “Sardar Patel believed freedom without economic prosperity and social reform would rob India’s independence of its true meaning,”. Unfortunately, history has not done justice to the personality and contribution of this great son of this great country. But now, fortunately, we are recognising it. He wanted to bridge the urban-rural divide and he “re-focussed country’s attention on rural development” in line with Mahatma Gandhi’s ideal of “Ram Rajya” (the perfect state), M Venkaiah Naidu asserted.
Despite all of this, 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. Thus, He played a heroic role in the reconstruction of the Indian civilization, and at a time when PM Narendra Modi has given a call for ‘New India’, Patel’s words in a letter to Princely rulers are more relevant than ever, We are at a momentous stage in the history of India. His greatest contribution to the unity of Free India, this unique work the future generations of India will always remain indebted to this iron man. He was a man of Iron-will and has been rightly called the iron man of India. He left us on 15th December 1950.
Author: Trilok Singh, Currently Studies Masters in Mass Communication & Journalism at International School of Media and Entertainment Studies, News 24 Campus. MA in Political Science, Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi. CEO at Youth Darpan Media, IASmind, & India s Journal. Forthcoming Media House is Online Media 24.