Sardar Vallabhai Patel, often referred to as the ‘Iron Man Of India’ played a major role in the Indian freedom movement.
On his 71st death anniversary, let's take a look at his life and enormous contributions made by him in shaping the country.
Patel was born in Nadiad, Gujarat on October 31, 1875. After he finished his schooling in the year 1897, he decided to become a lawyer.
After achieving success as a defence lawyer, His interest grew in the field after his successful stint as a defence lawyer, which encouraged him to move to London to continue his studies as a Barrister.
On completing his studies, Patel returned to India in 1913 and continued practising law in Ahmedabad in Gujarat.
Earlier, Patel was neither inclined towards active politics nor the principles of Mahatma Gandhi. However, his meeting with Gandhi in Godhra (1917) proved to be a turning point.
He soon accepted Gandhi's leadership during India's struggle for independence and worked extensively against alcoholism, untouchability, caste discrimination and empowerment of women in Gujarat.
Patel was elected Ahmedabad’s municipal president in 1922, 1924 and 1927.
During his tenures, 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.
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.
Patel took the lead in organising relief and emergency supplies, establishing refugee camps and visiting the border areas with Pakistani leaders to encourage peace
He also played a key role in the integration of India’s princely states after Independence. His efforts towards strengthening the Union earned him the moniker 'Iron man of India’.
Post-independence, Patel became the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India.
Sardar Patel died on December 15, 1950, at Birla House in Bombay after suffering a massive heart attack. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously.
In commemoration of Patel's contributions, National Unity Day or Rashtriya Ekta Diwas is celebrated on October 31 every year since 2014.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018 unveiled the 182-metre high ‘Statue of Unity‘ in honour of country’s first Home Minister and dedicated it to the nation.
In 2019, PM Modi administered a pledge for 'Rashtriya Ekta Diwas' that reads - "I solemnly pledge that I dedicate myself to preserve the unity, integrity, and security of the nation and also strive hard to spread this message among my fellow countrymen. I take this pledge in the spirit of unification of my country which was made possible by the vision and actions of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. I also solemnly resolve to make my own contribution to ensure the internal security of my country."