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30 October, 2015

Vallabhbhai Patel

Vallabhbhai Patel

Vallabhbhai Patel
Sardar patel (cropped).jpg

Deputy Prime Minister of India
In office
15 August 1947 – 15 December 1950
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Morarji Desai
Minister of Home Affairs
In office
15 August 1948 – 15 December 1950
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Chakravarti Rajagopalachari
Personal details
Born Vallabhai Jhaverbhai Patel
31 October 1875
Nadiad, Gujarat, Bombay Presidency, British India
Died 15 December 1950 (aged 75)
Bombay, Bombay State, India
Nationality Indian
Political party Indian National Congress
Children Maniben Patel, Dahyabhai Patel
Alma mater Inns of Court
Profession Lawyer
Political activist
Religion Hinduism
Awards Bharat Ratna

  • Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel 
He was an Indian barrister and statesman, one of the leaders of the Indian National Congress and one of the founding fathers of the Republic of India. He was a social leader who played a leading role in the country's struggle for independence and guided its integration into a united, independent nation. In India and elsewhere, he was often addressed as Sardar, which means Chief in Hindi, Urdu and Persian.
He was raised in the countryside of Gujarat. Patel was employed in successful practice as a lawyer. He subsequently organised peasants from Kheda, Borsad, and Bardoli in Gujarat in non-violent civil disobedience against oppressive policies imposed by the British Raj; in this role, he became one of the most influential leaders in Gujarat. He rose to the leadership of the Indian National Congress, in which capacity he would organise the party for the elections held in 1934 and 1937, as well as continue to promote the Quit India Movement.

As the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India, Patel organised relief for refugees fleeing from Punjab and Delhi and led efforts to restore peace across the nation. Patel took charge of the task to forge a united India by integrating into the newly liberated nation those British colonial provinces "allocated" to India. Besides those provinces under direct British rule, approximately 565 self-governing princely states had been released from British suzerainty by the Indian Independence Act 1947. Through both frank diplomacy as well an option to deploy military force, Patel would persuade almost every princely state to accede to India. Patel's commitment to national integration in the newly liberated country was total and uncompromising, earning him the sobriquet "Iron Man of India". He is also affectionately remembered as the "Patron saint of India's civil servants" for having established the modern all-India services system.
An annual commemoration of Patel, known as the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day), was introduced by the Government of India in 2014 and is to be held annually on his birthday, 31 October.
  • Early life

The date of birth of Vallabhbhai Patel was never officially recorded – Patel entered 31 October as his date of birth on his matriculation examination papers. He was born in Patel (Patidar) caste of Gujarat.
Patel travelled to attend schools in Nadiad, Petlad and Borsad, living self-sufficiently with other boys. He reputedly cultivated a stoic character. A popular anecdote recounts how he lanced his own painful boil without hesitation, even as the barber supposed to do it trembled. Patel passed his matriculation at the relatively late age of 22; at this point, he was generally regarded by his elders as an unambitious man destined for a commonplace job. Patel himself, though, harboured a plan to study to become a lawyer, work and save funds, travel to England and study to 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 Jhaverba from his parents' home, Patel set up his household in Godhra and was called to the bar. During the many years it took him to save money, Patel – now 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 Bubonic plague when it swept across Gujarat. When Patel himself came down with the disease, he immediately sent his family to safety, left his home and moved into an isolated house in Nadiad (by other accounts, Patel spent this time in a dilapidated temple); there, he recovered slowly.
Patel practised law in Godhra, Borsad and Anand while taking on the financial burdens of his homestead in Karamsad. Patel was the first chairman and founder of the E.M.H.S. "Edward Memorial High School" Borsad, presently known as Jhaverbhai Dajibhai Patel High School. When he had saved enough for England and applied for a pass and a ticket, they arrived in the name of "V. J. Patel," at Vithalbhai's home, who bore the same initials. Having once nurtured a similar hope to study in England, Vithalbhai remonstrated to his younger brother that it would be disreputable for an older brother to follow 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 (now Mumbai) to undergo a major surgical operation for cancer. Her health suddenly worsened and, 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 others who witnessed, Patel read the note, pocketed it and continued to intensely cross-examine the witness and won the case. He broke the news to 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-medium schools in Mumbai. At the age of 36, he journeyed to England and enrolled at the Middle Temple Inn in London. Finishing a 36-month course in 30 months, Patel topped his class despite having no previous college background.
Returning to India, Patel settled in the city of Ahmedabad and became one of the city's most successful barristers. Wearing European-style clothes and urbane mannerisms, he became a skilled bridge player. Patel nurtured ambitions to expand his practice and accumulate great wealth and to provide his children with a modern education. He had made a pact with his brother Vithalbhai to support his entry into politics in the Bombay Presidency, while Patel remained in Ahmedabad to provide for the family.
He was a vegetarian.
  • Fight for self-rule

At the urging of his friends, Patel won an election to become the sanitation commissioner of Ahmedabad in 1917. While often clashing with British officials on civic issues, he did not show any interest in politics. Upon hearing of Mohandas Gandhi, he joked to Mavlankar that "Gandhi would ask you if you know how to sift pebbles from wheat. And that is supposed to bring independence."
Patel gave a speech in Borsad in September 1917, encouraging Indians nationwide to sign Gandhi's petition demanding Swaraj—self-rule—from Britain. Meeting Gandhi a month later at the Gujarat Political Conference in Godhra, Patel became the secretary of the Gujarat Sabha—a public body which would become the Gujarati arm of the Indian National Congress—at Gandhi's encouragement. Patel now energetically fought against veth – the forced servitude of Indians to Europeans – and organised relief efforts in wake of plague and famine in Kheda. The Kheda peasants' plea for exemption from taxation had been turned down by British authorities. Gandhi endorsed waging a struggle there, but could not lead it himself due to his activities in Champaran. When Gandhi asked for a Gujarati activist to devote himself completely to the assignment, Patel volunteered, much to Gandhi's delight. Though his decision was made on the spot, Patel later said that his desire and commitment came after intensive personal contemplation, as he realised he would have to abandon his career and material ambitions.
  • Satyagraha in Gujarat 

    Patel supported Gandhi's Non-Cooperation movement and toured the state to recruit more than 300,000 members and raise over Rs. 1.5 million in funds. Helping organise bonfires of British goods in Ahmedabad, Patel threw in all his English-style clothes. With his daughter Mani and son Dahya, he switched completely to wearing khadi. Patel also supported Gandhi's controversial suspension of resistance in wake of the Chauri Chaura incident. He worked extensively in the following years in Gujarat against alcoholism, untouchability and caste discrimination, as well as for the empowerment of women. In the Congress, he was a resolute supporter of Gandhi against his Swarajist critics. Patel was elected Ahmedabad's municipal president in 1922, 1924 and 1927—during his terms, Ahmedabad was extended a major supply of electricity and the school system underwent major reforms. Drainage and sanitation systems were extended over all the city. He fought for the recognition and payment of teachers employed in schools established by nationalists (out of British control) and even took on sensitive Hindu-Muslim Issues. Patel personally led relief efforts in the aftermath of the intense torrential rainfall in 1927, which had caused major floods in the city and in the Kheda district and great destruction of life and property. He established refuge centres across the district, raised volunteers, arranged for supply of food, medicines and clothing, as well as emergency funds from the government and 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 in processions hoisting the flag. Patel negotiated a settlement that obtained the release of all prisoners and allowed nationalists to hoist the flag in public. Later that year, Patel and his allies uncovered evidence suggesting that the police were in league with local dacoits in the Borsad taluka even as the government prepared to levy a major tax for fighting dacoits in the area. More than 6,000 villagers assembled to hear Patel speak and supported the 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 in the taluka resisted payment of the tax, and through cohesion, also prevented the seizure of property and lands. 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, which were divided on socio-economic lines. 

    In April 1928, Patel returned to the independence struggle from his municipal duties in Ahmedabad when Bardoli suffered from a serious predicament of a famine and steep tax hike. The revenue hike was steeper than it had been in Kheda even though the famine covered a large portion of Gujarat. After cross-examining and talking to village representatives, emphasising the potential hardship and need for non-violence and cohesion, Patel initiated the struggle—complete denial of taxes. Patel organised volunteers, camps and an information network across affected areas. The revenue refusal was stronger than in Kheda and many sympathy satyagrahas were undertaken across Gujarat. Despite arrests, seizures of property and lands, the struggle intensified. The situation reached a head in August, when through sympathetic intermediaries, he negotiated a settlement repealing the tax hike, reinstating village officials who had resigned in protest and the return of seized property and lands. It was during the struggle and after the victory in Bardoli that Patel was increasingly addressed by his colleagues and followers as Sardar.


Maulana Azad, Jamnalal Bajaj, Patel (third from left, in the foreground), Subhash Chandra Bose and other Congressmen at Wardha

Integration after Independence and role of Gandhi

In the 1946 election for the Congress presidency, Patel stepped down in favour of Nehru at the request of Gandhi The election's importance stemmed from the fact that the elected President would lead independent India's first Government. As the first Home Minister, Patel played a key role in integration of many princely states into the Indian federation.
In the elections, the Congress won a large majority of the elected seats, dominating the Hindu electorate. But the Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah won a large majority of Muslim electorate seats. The League had resolved in 1940 to demand Pakistan—an independent state for Muslims—and was a fierce critic of the Congress. The Congress formed governments in all provinces save Sindh, Punjab and Bengal, where it entered into coalitions with other parties.

Cabinet mission and partition

When the British mission proposed two plans for transfer of power, there was considerable opposition within the Congress to both. The plan of 16 May 1946 proposed a loose federation with extensive provincial autonomy, and the "grouping" of provinces based on religious-majority. The plan of 16 June 1946 proposed the partition of India on religious lines, with over 600 princely states free to choose between independence or accession to either dominion. The League approved both plans, while the Congress flatly rejected the proposal of 16 June. Gandhi criticised the 16 May proposal as being inherently divisive, but Patel, realising that rejecting the proposal would mean that only the League would be invited to form a government, lobbied the Congress Working Committee hard to give its assent to the 16 May proposal. Patel engaged the British envoys Sir Stafford Cripps and Lord Pethick-Lawrence and obtained an assurance that the "grouping" clause would not be given practical force, Patel converted Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad and Rajagopalachari to accept the plan. When the League retracted its approval of the 16 May plan, the viceroy Lord Wavell invited the Congress to form the government. Under Nehru, who was styled the "Vice President of the Viceroy's Executive Council," Patel took charge of the departments of home affairs and information and broadcasting. He moved into a government house on 1, Aurangzeb Road in Delhi—this would be his home till his death in 1950.
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. He had been outraged by Jinnah's Direct Action campaign, which had provoked communal violence across India and by the viceroy's vetoes of his home department's plans to stop the violence on the grounds of constitutionality. Patel severely criticised the viceroy's induction of League ministers into the government, and the revalidation of the grouping scheme by the British without Congress approval. Although further outraged at the League's boycott of the assembly and non-acceptance of the plan of 16 May despite entering government, he was also aware that Jinnah did enjoy popular support amongst Muslims, and that an open conflict between him and the nationalists could degenerate into a Hindu-Muslim civil war of disastrous consequences. The continuation of a divided and weak central government would in Patel's mind, result in the wider fragmentation of India by encouraging more than 600 princely states towards independence. Between the months of December 1946 and January 1947, Patel worked with civil servant V. P. Menon on the latter's suggestion for a separate dominion of Pakistan created out of Muslim-majority provinces. Communal violence in Bengal and Punjab in January and March 1947 further convinced Patel of the soundness of partition. Patel, a fierce critic of Jinnah's demand that the Hindu-majority areas of Punjab and Bengal be included in a Muslim state, obtained the partition of those provinces, thus blocking any possibility of their inclusion in Pakistan. Patel's decisiveness on the partition of Punjab and Bengal had won him many supporters and admirers amongst the Indian public, which had tired of the League's tactics, but he was criticised by Gandhi, Nehru, secular Muslims and socialists for a perceived eagerness to do so. When Lord Louis Mountbatten formally proposed the plan on 3 June 1947, Patel gave his approval and lobbied Nehru and other Congress leaders to accept the proposal. Knowing Gandhi's deep anguish regarding proposals of partition, Patel engaged him in frank discussion in private meetings over the perceived practical unworkability of any Congress-League coalition, the rising violence and the threat of civil war. At the All India Congress Committee meeting called to vote on the proposal, Patel said:

The coat of Patel, on display at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial, Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad
  • The international airport of Ahmedabad is named after him.
  • Also the international cricket stadium of Ahmedabad (although popularly called the Motera Stadium) is named after him.
  • A national cricket stadium in Navrangpura, Ahmedabad used for national matches and events, is also named after him.
  • The chief outer ring road encircling Ahmedabad is named S P Ring Road.
  • Gujarat government's institution for training government functionaries is named Sardar Patel Institute of Public Administration.
  • Statue of Unity

Institutions and monuments


Patel statue at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Chowk, Katra Gulab Singh, Pratapgarh
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture & Technology, Modipuram, Meerut
  • 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,Rajasthan
  • 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
  • Statue of Unity, Gujarat
  • Sardar Patel Institute of Public Administration, Ahmedabad
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Foundation, Delhi
  • Sardar Patel Education Trust, Anand
  • Sardar Patel College of Communications & Management, Delhi
  • Sardar Patel Public College, Delhi
  • Vallabh Vidyanagar Educational Township, Anand
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Chowk in Katra Gulab Singh, Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh
  • Sardar Patel College of Education, Gurgaon
  • Sardar Patel Medical College, Bikaner
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Technology, Vasad
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad
  • Sardar Patel Stadium
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad
  • Sardar Patel Institute of Economic & Social Research
  • Vallabh Vidhyalay, Bochasan, Anand
  • Sardar Vallbhbhai Patel Vidyalay, Vadodara
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai patel polytechnic college, Bhopal
  • Sardar Patel Park, Harmu Housing Colony, Ranchi, Jharkhand
  • Patel Smarak Inter College Jattari, Aligarh
  • Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute, University of Delhi

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