Vallabhbhai Patel was born on October 31, 1875, in Nadiad village in a noble family. His parents were Zaverbhai and Ladbai. It was felt that Vallabhbhai was not a very bright student and will end up doing a regular job. He completed his graduation at the age of 22. However, he wanted to become a lawyer. He went to England and pursued the degree of law in 1913. Vallabbhai had great skill as a lawyer and was offered a lot of high positions by the British Government but rejected all of them as he was totally against the British Government.

He got married to Zaverbai in 1891 and the couple had two children.

Association with Gandhi
He was not associated with politics in any way. However, he became highly influenced by the visionary Mahatma Gandhi when he heard one of his speeches. In a way, he followed the philosophy of Gandhi and the Gandhian principles to the highest core.

Welfare of People

In 1917, Sardar Vallabhbhai was elected as the Secretary of the Gujarat Sabha, the Gujarat wing of the Indian National Congress. In 1918, he led a massive “No Tax Campaign” that urged the farmers not to pay taxes after the British insisted on tax after the floods in Kaira. The peaceful movement forced the British authorities to return the land taken away from the farmers. His effort to bring together the farmers of his area brought him the title of Sardar. He actively supported the non-cooperation Movement launched by Gandhi.

In 1928, the farmers of Bardoli again faced a problem of the burden of tax. After prolonged summons, when the farmers refused to pay the extra tax, the government seized their lands in retaliation. However, the taxes imposed by the British Government went as high as 30%. After the opposition of Indian farmers and under the leadership of Sardar Patel, the taxes were reduced to as low as 6%.

Patel supported Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation movement and toured the state to recruit more than 300,000 members and raise over Rs. 1.5 million in funds. Helping organize bonfires of British goods in Ahmedabad, Patel threw in all his English-style clothes. Along with his daughter Mani and son Dahya, he switched completely to wearing khadi.

Unite India
His biggest contribution to India was the role he played in uniting the country. He is, in this regard, compared to Otto von Bismarck of Germany, who did the same thing in the 1860s. Under the plan of 3 June, more than 562 princely states were given the option of joining either India or Pakistan or choosing independence. Indian nationalists and large segments of the public feared that if these states did not accede, most of the people and territory would be fragmented. Congress as well as senior British officials considered Patel the best man for the task of achieving unification of the princely states with the Indian dominion. Gandhi had said to Patel, “[T]he problem of the States is so difficult that you alone can solve it”. Patel was considered a statesman of integrity with the practical acumen and resolve to accomplish a monumental task. It was only because of Vallabhbhai Patel that India was saved from becoming small fragments and went to become a unified and respectful country.

Political Skills
Sardar Patel was not only a wonderful organizer of events but he was a mass leader. He was very brave. He convinced all the emperors of princely states for a unified country. He used high levels of politics in that, while most of the emperors agreed to the concept, some of them required explanation, some of them required flattery and some of the fear. He had all the skills. He completely followed Gandhi’s non-violence movement.

Great Visionary
He was a great visionary. He realized that even after independence Pakistan had eyes on certain parts of India. He made sure that the states were equipped to withstand any attack. At the time of his death in his letter, he had said that India will have to be more careful from invasion from China than Pakistan. Not many people realized it then but now they do.

Relationship with mentor
He dedicated all of his life to the service of the country. He considered Mahatma Gandhi as his mentor. And Mahatma Gandhi realized the potential of this iron man. There was a perfect synthesis between them. He could have become a successful lawyer and spent his life but he chose otherwise. He cared for people, he cared for the country.

Bharat Ratna

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel died on 15 Dec 1950 suffering a massive heart attack. He was awarded Bharat Ratna award in 1991 for his massive contribution to India. His birthday is celebrated as Rashtriya Ekta Divas.

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