HE LEFT BEHIND A UNIFIED INDIA

Posted: October 31, 2011 in Icons, The NamoLeague Times
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SARDAR VALLABHBHAI PATEL

SARDAR – The leader, who united India at its most trying times after Independence, amalgamated nearly 550 princely states within the Union of India. He played a major role in the freedom struggle of India and in its integration as a cohesive and independent nation. He was first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was renowned as the ‘Iron Man of India’ in the country and across the world.

BORN IN A FAMILY OF HEROES

Sardar Patel was born on October 31, 1875 in Nadiad, a small village in Gujarat. His father Jhaverbhai was a farmer and had served in the army of Rani Laxmibai. His mother Laad Bai was a simple, deeply religious person. Sardar Patel’s early education took place in Karamsad. Thereafter he joined a school in Petlad. After two years, he joined a high school in Nadiad. He passed his high school examination in 1897, at the age of 22.

Vithalbhai, Sardar’s elder brother, was also a well-known patriot and the Chairman of the Indian Legislative Council.

When he was 18 years old, Sardar’s marriage was arranged with Jhaverba, a young girl of 12 or 13 years from a nearby village. The couple had 2 children – a daughter Maniben, born in April 1904, and a son Dayabhai, born in November 1905. Jhaverba died in January 1909.

A DREAM WELL PURSUED

Sardar Patel had a cherished ambition of becoming a barrister. He could not let the family’s poverty be a hindrance. So he himself designed a plan – he would study to become a lawyer, work and save funds, travel to England and study to become a barrister. In those days, a candidate could study in private and sit for an examination in Law. Sardar borrowed books from a lawyer of his acquaintance and studied at home. Occasionally he attended courts of law and listened attentively to the arguments of the lawyers.

He passed the Law examination with excellence within 2 years.

Sardar Patel then set up his household at Godhra and began his practice of law with absolutely no facilities. He hired a room, borrowed money from friends and furnished the room with some chairs and mats. The young, confident and honest Sardar made name as an eminent lawyer within a short span of time.

As per the plan, Sardar started saving a plenty of money to fulfill his dream. When he applied for a pass and a ticket for England, they arrived in the name of “VJ Patel” at Vithalbhai’s home. The elder brother, who bore the same initials, expressed his concern of going to England first and without any hesitation, Sardar Patel allowed and also financed his brother’s stay and began saving again for his own goals.

After his wife’s death in 1909, he journeyed to England and enrolled at the Middle Temple Inn in London. Finishing a 36-month course in 30 months, Sardar Patel topped his class despite having no previous college background. Returning to India, he settled in Ahmedabad and became one of the city’s most successful barristers.

THE SHIFT OF CHOICE

Sardar earned as much as 8000-10000 rupees a month and planned to expand his practice and accumulate great wealth to provide his children with modern education. He dressed like the English and sometimes even ridiculed politics, non-cooperation movements and sacrifices for the country.

So was the nature of Sardar Patel until he met Mahatma Gandhi at a political conference in Godhra. Being impressed by Gandhiji’s victory over the British in Champaran, he started adopting his views. The relationship between Gandhiji and Sardar Patel was concretely defined when Gandhiji was elected the President of the Gujarat Sabha and Sardar the Secretary, in 1917. Sardar undertook the leadership of the Satyagraha of 1918 when rains destroyed the crops in Gujarat. The farmers in Kaira District were particularly in distress. The Government demanded the payment of the revenue taxes to the last pie. The farmers turned to Gandhiji as their refuge and Sardar assumed the responsibility of the entire struggle. He gave up his western clothes, and began to dress like the poor and humble peasants.

The farmers revered and admired the barrister so much that one word from the Sardar and they were ready to lay down their lives. The Government had to give up.

FOR THE PEOPLE, OF THE PEOPLE, BY SARDAR

1920 – Sardar Patel gave up his practice as a barrister and joined the non-cooperation movement of the Government. He founded the Gujarat Vidyapeeth to educate the children to grow up to be patriots.

Sardar Patel was elected Ahmedabad’s municipal president in 1922, 1924 and 1927. During his terms, Ahmedabad was extended a major supply of electricity and it underwent major education reforms. Drainage and sanitation systems were extended all over the city. He participated in the Nagpur flag Satyagraha from May to August in 1923 to protest against the stopping of a procession, which carried the national flag.

In 1928, Sardar Patel once again came to the rescue of the farmers, this time it was in Bardoli, in Surat. The Government increased the tax on the land. He urged the farmers not to pay, declaring the hike unjust. He prepared the farmers for Satyagraha. In retaliation, the Government confiscated their land, cattle and crops and arrested hundreds of farmers. The non-violent war lasted for about 6 months. Sardar was an active part of the Dandi March and the Quit-India Movement.

HE UNITED INDIA

Sardar Patel handled the integration of all the princely states into the Indian Union with great expertise. Under the Cabinet Mission, all the princely states had the right to join Pakistan, India or remain independent. The Sardar declared, “We are all knit together by bonds of blood and feelings. Therefore, it is better for us to make laws sitting together as friends.” Sardar Patel dealt with Hyderabad and Junagadh firmly when these states tried to join Pakistan or remain independent.

Sardar Patel formed the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and other Central Services to assist the process of nation building. The ‘Iron Man of India’ died in Bombay in December 1950. He left behind a unified India.

Sardar Patel reminds of India’s and Indians’ potential. Knowing him is not enough; we need to follow him!

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=HE%20LEFT%20BEHIND%20A%20UNIFIED%20INDIA_449

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