Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the ‘Iron Man of India’ was born on the 31st of October 1875. He was the first Deputy Prime Minister of India and one of the key people who were instrumental in chartering the future of free India.
By profession, he was a barrister and statesman, a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and the founding father of the Republic of India. He was a true companion of Mahatma Gandhi throughout the freedom struggle, various movements like Quit India and was a pioneer in shaping the political scenario of the country.
Early Life –
Patel was born and raised in the countryside of Gujarat. His date of birth was never officially recorded but he had entered it as 31st October on his matriculation examination papers.
At the age of 36 he travelled to England and finished a 36-month course in 30 months, later coming back to India to become a successful barrister.
A subsequent meeting with Gandhiji, in October 1917, fundamentally changed his mindset and lured him to join the Indian independence struggle. He quickly rose to the leadership of the Indian National Congress, organising the party for elections in 1934 and 1937 while promoting the Quit India Movement.
Later, after independence, he become the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India.
During the partition, he organised relief efforts for refugees fleeing from Punjab and Delhi. It is because of his relentless work to unify India that he was called the ‘Iron Man of India’.
He is also remembered for having established the modern all-India services system and is rightfully called the ‘Unifier of India’.
After suffering a massive heart attack, Patel died on 15th December 1950 at Birla House in Bombay. His cremation in Bombay was attended by one million people, including Prime Minister Nehru, Rajagopalachari and President Rajendra Prasad.
In 2014, the Government of India introduced a commemoration of Patel, held annually on his birthday, the 31st of October, and is now known as ‘Rashtriya Ekta Diwas’ (National Unity Day).
On his birth anniversary in 2018, a statue of him, termed as the world’s tallest statue, was inaugurated in Gujarat. The location is near the Narmada Dam, 90 kms from Vadodara.
The Statue of Unity is the world’s tallest statue with the height of 182 metres.
He will always be remembered as a great administrator, compassionate leader and the stalwart of politics. He was the chief architect of India’s freedom struggle and the man who envisaged a bright future for independent India.
(From NM Archives)
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