Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel | Braves by their Broken Hearts!

Self-educated and became a professional law practitioner. Believed himself, not life-less idols in temples. Recovered by his own, from a deadly disease like Plague.. Strived for the development of lives of poor peasants across the nation and opposed the British Empire's immoral tax system. Lost his wife in a wrong-time, yet he did right for the sake of Justice. What made this ambitious man become "The Iron-Man of India"? What made this single heart to unify over 565 independent Princely States and form a single Republic of India?


Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel | Biographical Sketch
  • He was born in Nadiad, a small town in Gujarat.
  • From his childhood, he was a follower of Stoicism("Doing good" is the only God.)
  • When Patel passed his matriculation(Equivalent 10th Grade) at the relatively late age of 22, he was generally regarded by his elders as an unambitious man destined for a job.
  • Patel himself harboured a plan to study law, work and save funds, travel to England, and become a barrister.
  • Patel spent years away from his family, studying on his own with books borrowed from other lawyers, passing his examinations within two years.
  • Fetching his wife Jhaverba from her parents' home, Patel set up his household in Godhra (located in Panchmahal district of Gujarat state).
  • During the many years it took him to save money, Patel became an advocate & earned a reputation as a fierce and skilled lawyer.
  • The couple had a daughter, Maniben, in 1904 and a son, Dahyabhai, in 1906. 
  • Patel also cared for a friend suffering from the Bubonic plague(a fatal disease) when it swept across Gujarat.
  • When Patel himself came down with the disease, he immediately sent his family to safety and left his home. He moved into an isolated house in Nadiad. Patel spent this time in a temple, where he recovered slowly.
  • Patel was the first chairman and founder of "Edward Memorial High School" Borsad, today known as Jhaverbhai Dajibhai Patel High School.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
  • When he had saved enough for his trip to England and applied for a pass and a ticket, they were addressed to "V. J. Patel," and received in the home of his elder brother Vithalbhai, who had the same initials as Vallabhai. Having once  a similar hope to study in England, Vithalbhai forcefully stopped his younger brother Vallabhai, saying that it would be disreputable for an older brother to follow the words of his younger brother. In keeping with concerns for his family's honour, Patel allowed Vithalbhai to go in his place.
  • In 1909 Patel's wife Jhaverba was hospitalised in Bombay (present-day Mumbai) to undergo major surgery for cancer.  Despite successful emergency surgery, she died in the hospital. Patel was given a note informing him of his wife's demise as he was cross-examining a witness in court. According to witnesses, Patel read the note, pocketed it, and continued his cross-examination and won the case. He broke into tears and shared the news with others only after the proceedings had ended.
  • Patel decided against marrying again. He raised his children with the help of his family and sent them to English-language schools in Bombay.
  • Patel settled in Ahmedabad and became one of the city's most successful barristers. Wearing European-style clothes and sporting urbane mannerisms, he became a skilled lawyer.
  • Patel kept ambitions to expand his practice and accumulate great wealth and to provide his children with a modern education.
  • A subsequent meeting with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, in October 1917 fundamentally changed Patel and led him to join the Indian independence struggle.
  • In September 1917, Patel delivered a speech in Borsad, encouraging Indians nationwide to sign Gandhi's petition demanding Swaraj ( self-rule ) from Britain.
Patel with M.K.Gandhi
  • On Gandhi's encouragement, Patel became the secretary of the Gujarat Sabha (a public body).
  • When Gandhi asked for a Gujarati activist to devote himself completely to help a Peasants' Protest aganist British laws, Patel volunteered. Though his decision was made on the spot, Patel later said that his desire and commitment came after intense personal will, and he realised he would have to abandon his career and material ambitions.
  • Supported by Congress volunteers, Vallabhbhai Patel began a village-by-village tour, documenting grievances and asking villagers for their support for a statewide revolt by refusing to pay taxes. Patel emphasised the need for complete unity and non-violence in the face of provocation. He received an enthusiastic response from virtually every village.
  • The revolt evoked sympathy and admiration across India, including among pro-British Indian politicians. The government agreed to negotiate with Patel and decided to suspend the payment of taxes for a year.. Patel emerged as a hero to Gujaratis. In 1920 he was elected president of the newly formed Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee.
  • Patel supported Gandhi's non-co-operation Movement and toured the state to recruit more than 300,000 members and raise over Rs. 1.5 million in funds. Helping organise bonfires in Ahmedabad in which British goods were burned, Patel threw in all his English-style clothes. 
  • Along with his daughter Mani and son Dahya, he switched completely to wearing khadi, the locally produced cotton clothing.
  • In Gujarat he worked extensively in the following years against alcoholism, untouchability, and caste discrimination, as well as for the empowerment of women.
  • Patel was elected Ahmedabad's municipal president in 1922, 1924, and 1927. During his terms, he oversaw improvements in infrastructure. The supply of electricity was increased, drainage and sanitation systems were extended throughout the city. 
  • The school system underwent major reforms. He fought for the recognition and payment of teachers employed in schools established by nationalists (independent of British control) and even took on sensitive Hindu–Muslim issues.
Facts about the life of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
  • Patel personally led relief efforts in the aftermath of the torrential rainfall of 1927 that caused major floods in the city and in the Kheda district, and great destruction of life and property. He established refugee centres across the district, mobilised volunteers, and arranged for supplies of food, medicines, and clothing, as well as emergency funds from the government and the public.
  • When Gandhi was in prison, Patel was asked by Members of Congress to lead the satyagraha in Nagpur in 1923 against a law banning the raising of the Indian flag. 
  • He organised thousands of volunteers from all over the country to take part in processions of people violating the law. Patel negotiated a settlement obtaining the release of all prisoners and allowing nationalists to hoist the flag in public.
  • More than 6,000 villagers assembled to hear Patel speak in support of proposed agitation against the tax, which was deemed immoral and unnecessary. 
  • He organised hundreds of Congressmen, sent instructions, and received information from across the district. Every village resisted payment of the tax and prevented the seizure of property and land. 
  • After a protracted struggle, the government withdrew the tax. Historians believe that one of Patel's key achievements was the building of cohesion and trust amongst the different castes and communities.
  • As Gandhi embarked on the Dandi Salt March, Patel was arrested and was put on trial without witnesses, with no lawyer or journalists allowed to attend. Patel's arrest and Gandhi's subsequent arrest caused the Salt Satyagraha to greatly intensify in Gujarat. Districts across Gujarat launched an anti-tax rebellion until and unless Patel and Gandhi were released.
  • During this term of imprisonment, Patel and Gandhi grew close to each other, and the two developed a close bond of affection, trust, and frankness. Their mutual relationship could be described as that of an elder brother (Gandhi) and his younger brother (Patel). 
  • Despite having arguments with Gandhi, Patel respected his instincts and leadership. In prison, the two discussed national and social issues, read Hindu epics, and cracked jokes. Gandhi taught Patel Sanskrit.
  • When the British mission proposed two plans for transfer of power, there was considerable opposition within the Congress to both.
  • Vallabhbhai Patel was one of the first Congress leaders to accept the partition of India as a solution to the rising Muslim separatist movement led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
  • In December 1946 and January 1947, Patel worked on the suggestion for a separate dominion of Pakistan created out of Muslim-majority provinces.
  • At All India Congress Commettee meeting, Patel said, "I fully appreciate the fears of our brothers from the Muslim-majority areas. Nobody likes the division of India and my heart is heavy. But the choice is between one division and many divisions. We must face facts. We cannot give way to emotionalism and sentimentality. The Working Committee has not acted out of fear. But I am afraid of one thing, that all our toil and hard work of these many years might go waste or prove unfruitful. Freedom is coming. We have 75 to 80 percent of India, which we can make strong with our own genius. The League can develop the rest of the country."
  • Neither Patel nor any other Indian leader had foreseen the intense violence and population transfer that would take place with partition. Patel took the lead in organising relief and emergency supplies, establishing refugee camps, and visiting the border areas with Pakistani leaders to encourage peace. Despite these efforts, the death toll is estimated at between 500,000 and 1 million people. The estimated number of refugees in both countries exceeds 15 million. Understanding that Delhi and Punjab policemen, accused of organising attacks on Muslims, were personally affected by the tragedies of partition, Patel called out the Indian Army with South Indian regiments to restore order, imposing strict curfews and shoot-at-sight orders.
  • Patel stopped the violence and restored peace at nation's border through his words "I have come to you with a specific appeal. Pledge the safety of Muslim refugees crossing the city. Any obstacles or hindrances will only worsen the plight of our refugees who are already performing prodigious feats of endurance. If we have to fight, we must fight clean. Such a fight must await an appropriate time and conditions and you must be watchful in choosing your ground. To fight against the refugees is no fight at all. No laws of humanity or war among honourable men permit the murder of people who have sought shelter and protection. Let there be truce for three months in which both sides can exchange their refugees. This sort of truce is permitted even by laws of war. Let us take the initiative in breaking this vicious circle of attacks and counter-attacks. Hold your hands for a week and see what happens. Make way for the refugees with your own force of volunteers and let them deliver the refugees safely at our frontier."
  • Patel took charge of the integration of the princely states into India. This achievement formed the cornerstone of Patel's popularity in the post-independence era. Even today he is remembered as the man who united India. He is, in this regard, compared to Otto von Bismarck who unified the many German states in 1871.
  • 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. 
Sardar Patel with the Maharaja of Jaipur, on the formation of the Matsya Union of the Rajasthan princely states, 1948.
  • The Congress as well as senior British officials considered Patel the best man for the task of achieving conquest of the princely states by the Indian dominion. Gandhi had said to Patel, "The problem of the States is so difficult that you alone can solve it".
  • Patel used social meetings and unofficial surroundings to engage most of the monarchs, inviting them to lunch and tea at his home in Delhi. At these meetings, Patel explained that there was no inherent conflict between the Congress and the princely order. 
  • Patel invoked the patriotism of India's monarchs, asking them to join in the independence of their nation and act as responsible rulers who cared about the future of their people. He persuaded the princes of 565 states. He proposed favourable terms for the merger. While encouraging the rulers to act out of patriotism, Patel did not rule out force. Stressing that the princes would need to accede to India in good faith, he set a deadline of 15 August 1947 for them to sign the instrument of accession document. All but three of the states willingly merged into the Indian union.
Seated From Right to Left : Lord Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Acharya Kriplani.
  • There were 562 princely states in India which Sardar Patel integrated by the date 15th August, 1947.
  • After India became independent, Patel served as the first deputy Prime Minister of the nation. Patel was a senior leader in the Constituent Assembly of India and was responsible in large measure for shaping India's constitution.
Sardar Patel addressing a gathering at the first death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi, 1949.
  • The statue of Unity, the world's tallest statue with a height of (597 ft) 182 metres is dedicated towards this great man by the Indian Government. It is located on a river facing the Sardar Sarovar Dam on river Narmada, southeast of the city of Vadodara in Gujarat. It was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 31 October 2018, the 143rd birth anniversary of Patel.
The statue of Unity in Vadodara, Gujarat

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