Vallabhbhai Patel was born on 31 October 1875 in Nadiad in Leva Patidar Gujjar & died on 15 December 1950 Mumbai, Maharashtra, was a political and social leader of India who played a major role in the country’s struggle for independence and guided its integration into a united, independent nation. He was called as “Iron Man Of India” In India and across the world, he was often addressed as Sardar, which means Chief in many languages of India.
Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel was born at his maternal uncle’s house Desai Vago community of Gujarat. His actual date of birth was never officially recorded—Patel entered 31 October as his date of birth on his matriculation examination papers. He was the fourth son of Jhaverbhai and his wife Ladba Patel. They lived in the village of Karamsad, in the Khedadistrict where Jhaverbhai owned a homestead. Somabhai, Narsibhai and Vithalbhai Patel (also a future political leader) were his elder brothers. He had a younger brother, Kashibhai and a sister, Dahiba. As a young boy, Patel helped his father in the fields and bimonthly kept a day-long fast, abstaining from food and water—a Hindu cultural observance that enabled him to develop physical toughness. When he was eighteen years old, Patel’s marriage was arranged with Jhaverba, a young girl of twelve or thirteen years from a nearby village. According to custom, the young bride would continue to live with her parents until her husband started earning and could establish their household.
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 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 harboured a plan—he would 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 and passed examinations within two years. Fetching Jhaverba from her parents’ home, Patel set up his household in Godhra and enrolled at the bar. During the many years it took him to save money, Vallabhbhai—now a pleader—earned a reputation as a fierce and skilled lawyer. His wife bore him a daughter, Manibehn, in 1904 and later 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.
As the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India, Patel organised relief for refugees in Punjab and Delhi, and led efforts to restore peace across the nation. Patel took charge of the task to forge a united India from the 565 semi-autonomous princely states and British-era colonial provinces. Using frank diplomacy backed with the option (and the use) of military action, Patel’s leadership enabled the accession of almost every princely state. Hailed as the Iron Man of India, he is also remembered as the “Patron Saint” of India’s civil servants for establishing modern all-India services. Patel was also one of the earliest proponents of property rights and free enterprise in India.
In 1909, Patel’s wife Jhaverba was hospitalised in Mumbai (then Bombay) 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 himself 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 also became a skilled bridge player. Patel nurtured ambitions to expand his practise and accumulate great wealth and to provide his children withmodern education. He had also made a pact with his brother Vithalbhai to support his entry into politics in the Bombay Presidency, while Patel himself would remain in Ahmedabad and provide for the family.
On 29 March 1949, authorities lost radio contact with a plane carrying Patel, his daughter Maniben and the Maharaja of Patiala. Engine failure caused the pilot to make an emergency landing in a desert area in Rajasthan. With all passengers safe, Patel and others tracked down a nearby village and local officials. When Patel returned to Delhi, thousands of Congressmen gave him a resounding welcome. In Parliament, MPs gave a long, standing ovation to Patel, stopping proceedings for half an hour. In his twilight years, Patel was honoured by members of Parliament and awarded honorary doctorates of law by the Punjab University and Osmania University.
Patel’s health declined rapidly through the summer of 1950. He later began coughing blood, whereupon Maniben began limiting his meetings and working hours and arranged for a personalised medical staff to begin attending to Patel. The Chief Minister of West Bengal and doctor Bidhan Roy heard Patel make jokes about his impending end, and in a private meeting Patel frankly admitted to his ministerial colleague N. V. Gadgil that he was not going to live much longer. Patel’s health worsened after 2 November, when he began losing consciousness frequently and was confined to his bed. He was flown to Mumbai on 12 December to recuperate at his son Dahyabhai’s flat—his condition deemed critical, Nehru and Rajagopalachari came to the airport to see him off. After suffering a massive heart attack (his second), he died on 15 December 1950. In an unprecedented and unrepeated gesture, on the day after his death more than 1,500 officers of India’s civil and police services congregated to mourn at Patel’s residence in Delhi and pledged “complete loyalty and unremitting zeal” in India’s service. His cremation in Sonapur, Mumbai, was attended by large crowds, Nehru, Rajagopalachari, President Prasad.