31 Oct 2022 8:50 AM GMT
“The main task before India today is to consolidate herself into a well-knit and united power…”  – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (Photo credit: sardarpatel.nvli.in)
New Delhi: The Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, is recognised as one of the key figures in India’s war for independence. He made a significant contribution to the unification of the country. India is commemorating Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary today, October 31. To recognise Vallabhbhai Patel’s crucial contribution to the creation of a unified India, the government decided to observe National Unity Day, also known as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, on his birthday in 2014. Sardar Patel fought swiftly to eradicate the effects of imperialism and create a unified nation infused with nationalism. Sardar Patel was the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of Independent India.
In this article, let us look at some lesser-known facts about the Iron Man of India.

Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel was born in Nadiad, Gujarat, as one of Jhaverbhai Patel and Ladba’s six children. He adopted Diksha from Vallabhacharya’s descendants and practised Vaishnavism. He also belonged to the pushtimarg of Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya.

Sardar Patel listed his date of birth as October 31 on his matriculation exam papers, even though his birthdate was never formally documented.

Although after becoming well-known, both Leva Patel and Kadava Patidar communities in Central Gujarat have claimed him as one of their own, he originally belonged to the Leva Patel group.

After completing the bar exam, Patel practised law in the Gujarat cities of Godhra, Borsad, and Anand before he fully entered the independence movement. It is claimed that when he was a less-than-stellar student, he borrowed books from more experienced attorneys to prepare for his bar exam.

Patel was a model student throughout his academic career.

At the age of 36, Patel took a trip to England and enrolled in the Middle Temple Inn, a college for lawyers. Despite never having attended a college before, he excelled on the final exam and completed a 36-month study there in just 30 months.

Sardar Patel was not keen on Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas and was not interested in joining the Indian independence movement in its early stages. But after meeting Gandhi in Godhra, Gujarat, in 1917, he was impressed by the vision and knowledge of the Indian leader and later became one of his earliest political lieutenants and closest confidants.

Patel, a key political lieutenant of Gandhi, resigned from his position as a practising lawyer to devote all of his time to opposing British colonial power and battling for liberation under Gandhi’s non-violent leadership. After joining the Indian National Congress, he later rose to the position of secretary of Gujarat Sabha and continued to play a crucial role in the party even after Independence.

In 1932, after the round-table conference in London failed, Sardar Patel and Mahatma Gandhi were detained in “Yeravda Central Jail”. Patel rose to the position of Mahatma Gandhi’s right-hand man during that period. Both of them were published in July 1934. Patel was being taught Sanskrit at the time by Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi began the non-cooperation movement following the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, and Patel backed him wholeheartedly. Patel staged bonfires in various Ahmedabad locations where he burned all of his English clothing and possessions. He adopted Khadi clothing and transformed into an authentic Indian.

More than 500 princely states were incorporated into India under the direction of Sardar. He is regarded as one of the key figures in India’s independence movement.

Due to his tireless efforts to lay a strong foundation for India to stand on before and after independence, Sardar Patel has acquired numerous nicknames during his decades-long political career. He is known as the “Iron Man” of India and is credited with creating the contemporary All India Service structure, earning him the title of “patron saint of India’s government officials”.

His commitment to national integration in the newly independent country was total and uncompromising, earning him the sobriquet “Iron Man of India”.

At the Gujarati Bardoli Satyagraha in 1928, he gained the title “Sardar”, which in Gujarati and the majority of other Indian languages means “chief or leader”. The Bardoli Satyagraha is seen as a crucial example of civil disobedience and revolt in India’s Independence Movement. Because of his beliefs and actions, Sardar Patel was imprisoned roughly ten times between 1930 and 1945.

Sardar Patel spent a lot of time eradicating the ills that were plaguing Indian society at the time as a social reformer. In addition to negotiating emancipatory measures for the advancement of women, he worked for the rights of minorities. He was very outspoken in his advocacy for the elimination of the caste system and untouchability.
Patel was proposed as the winner of the 1946 election for the position of Congress president by 12 of the 15 regional congress committees. Despite Mahatma Gandhi’s backing, not a single committee put Jawaharlal Nehru’s name forward. Later on, though, Patel resigned to make way for Jawaharlal Nehru.
In 2014, Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day) was established by the Indian government and declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The goal is to honour Patel, who played a crucial role in keeping India unified. The birthday of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, known as the Iron Man of India and one of the founding fathers of the Republic of India, is commemorated annually on October 31. The National Unity Day “will provide an opportunity to re-affirm the inherent strength and resilience of our nation to withstand the actual and potential threats to the unity, integrity, and security of our country,” according to the official Rashtriya Ekta Diwas statement from the Home Ministry of India.

In Gujarat, 3.2 kilometres from Sadhu Bet in the vicinity of Vadodara, stands the Statue of Unity, a memorial to Patel that faces the Narmada Dam. It surpasses the Spring Temple Buddha by 54 metres to hold the record for the tallest statue in the world at 182 metres. This statue and associated buildings cover an area of 20,000 square metres, are encircled by an artificial lake that spans 12 kilometres, and are reported to have cost Rs 29.8 billion.

On Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s 143rd birth anniversary in 2018, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi officially inaugurated the statue. The statue’s height in metres has been chosen to correspond to Gujarat’s whole Assembly constituency.

1991: Bharat Ratna (posthumously)

Sardar Patel Memorial Trust

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial, Ahmedabad
Sardar Sarovar Dam, Gujarat
Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat
Sardar Patel University, Gujarat
Sardar Patel University of Police, Security and Criminal Justice, Jodhpur
Sardar Patel Institute of Technology, Vasad
Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, New Delhi
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad
Sardar Patel College of Engineering, Mumbai
Sardar Patel Institute of Technology, Mumbai
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Chowk in Katra Gulab Singh, Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Technology, Vasad
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Police Museum, Kollam
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Enclave, Ahmedabad
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture and Technology
Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute
Statue of Unity
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture and Technology, Meerut
1947: The Iron Man of India was featured on the cover of Time magazine.

1976: Kantilal Rathod directed a documentary on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
1982: In Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982), actor Saeed Jaffrey portrayed Patel.
1993: The biographical film Sardar was produced and directed by Ketan Mehta and featured noted Indian actor Paresh Rawal as Patel; it focused on Patel’s leadership in the years leading up to independence, the partition of India, India’s political integration and Patel’s relationship with Gandhi and Nehru.
2000: Arun Sadekar plays Patel in Hey Ram – a film made by Kamal Haasan.
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