The Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is remembered as a highly eminent statesman and leader of the masses. He played an instrumental role in the freedom struggle of India. His strict disciplinarian persona and staunch conviction of a unified India made the amalgamation of the 500 princely states to the Indian nation possible.
Hard-working since early life
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was born to Jhaverbhai and Ladbai in a village called Karamsad (Bombay Presidency). According to the date of birth that he wrote in his matriculation examination, he was born on 31st October, 1870.
Since his childhood, he showed tremendous will power. He spent time working alongside his father in the fields. He also observed fast twice a month as per the Hindu customs. This observance has been regarded as the reason for his great physical endurance.
He studied in various schools in Borsad, Petlad and Nadiad while working to fund his education. He focused on saving money so that he could go abroad and study to become a barrister. He cleared his matriculation examination when he was 22 and set his eyes on becoming a lawyer. With unshakeable determination, borrowed books and relentless self-study, he cleared the law examination.
Strong concern for family honor and friends
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was clear about his goals but he did not let his dreams come in the way of preserving family honor and fulfilling responsibilities. After becoming an advocate and having saved sufficient money for studying in England, he applied for the essential documents. The papers that arrived had the initials ‘V.J Patel’. His elder brother, who too wanted to go abroad for studying, incidentally, had the same initials. He argued that being the elder one, he should get the opportunity. If the younger brother went first, their family would become a butt of jokes in the community.
The Iron Man of India agreed to sacrifice his dream for protecting the family name and decided to start saving again for his own visit in the coming years. At the age of 36, he went to England and became a barrister.
He showed his strong sense of responsibility towards his friends when he risked his life by taking care of a friend, who had caught the dreaded bubonic plague. When he fell sick, he left home and spent his days in isolation until full recovery.
Role in freedom struggle
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel developed a keen interest in Gandhi’s methodology of running the struggle for independence after the Champaran protests. In 1917, he urged people to sign Gandhi’s demand for Swaraj (self-rule). He plunged into the freedom struggle by taking responsibility of the activities in Gujarat.
He went to prison for his vehement participation in the Salt Satyagrah. His inspiring fiery speeches drove numerous people to stand up against the foreign rule.
His profound respect for Gandhi was quite evident during the election of the Congress president in 1946. Out of 16 states, 13 were extending their support to him for the post. At Gandhi’s suggestion, he withdrew his name from the candidature and made way for Jawaharlal Nehru.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel died of a stroke in 1950.