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Biography of Bharat Ratna “Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel” complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel


One of the architects of Indian freedom, one of the chief builders of independent India, popularly known as—Iron Man of India—the first Deputy Prime Minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s Government, responsible for Indian States’ integration with the Union, Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel, son of Jhaverbhai Patel and Ladbai, was born on 31 October 1875 at Nadiad in Gujarat. He belonged to a lower middle-class family. Vallabhbhai’s childhood was spent away from books, on the ancestral fields at Karamsad. He was already in his late teens when he passed out from the Middle School at Karamsad and went to the High School at Nadiad from where he matriculated in 1897.

As a young boy Vallabhbhai displayed qualities of organization and leadership that marked him out for his future role. Once as a sixth-form boy he organized a successful strike of his classmates that lasted for three days to teach a lesson to one of the teachers who was unduly fond of the rod. Vallabhbhai must have inherited these attributes from his father who, it is said, had fought in the Mutiny under the Rani of Jhansi and was subsequently taken prisoner by Malharrao Holkar. Patel was married at the age of 18 to Zaverbai in 1893. Zaverbai was a docile and gentle lady. She served her husband all her life, with great devotion. He was a mature young man of twenty-two when he matriculated. Owing to the impecunious circumstances of the family higher education was not within his reach. The next best thing was to take a course in law and set up as a country lawyer. This he did and established a small practice at Godhra. But an attack of plague, which he contracted while nursing a friend, made him leave the town and after spending some time in Nadiad, he moved on to Borsad in 1902, a town in the Kheda district where at that time the largest number of criminal cases in Gujarat were recorded. Vallabhbhai became quite popular here as a defence lawyer.

Vallabhbhai now wanted to go to England and qualify as a Rarrister. From his practice at Borsad he had earned enough for his expenses there but owing to certain circumstances he was not able to make the trip at once. His brother Vithalbhai wanted to complete his education in England first. Vallabhbhai readily acquiesced in this.

Wife, Zaverbai, died early in 1909 after an operation for some abdominal malady. When news of the bereavement reached Patel, he was cross-examining a witness in a murder case at Anand. With an impregnable composure for which he became known later, he did not show his grief but went on with the cross-examination in hand.

Vallabhbhai sailed for England in 1910 and joined the Middle Temple. He topped in Roman Law, securing a prize, and was called to the Bar at the end of two years instead of the usual period of three years.

After his return to India in 1913, he set up practice in Ahmedabad and made a great success of it. He had ready wit, a fund of common sense and a deep sympathy for those who were the objects of the British officials’ wrath and were caught in the clutches of the law, which was not then uncommon in the Kheda district. He came to enjoy a position in public life that surpassed his eminence as a Barrister. He accepted Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership, having been tremendously impressed by the fearless lead that Mahatma Gandhi gave to right public wrongs. In 1917 he was elected for the first time as a Municipal Councillor in Ahmedabad. From 1924 to 1928 he was Chairman of the Municipal Committee. The years of his association with the Municipal administration were marked by much meaningful work for the improvement of civic life. Work was done to improve water supply, sanitation and town planning and the Municipality came to be transformed from being a mere adjunct to the British rule into a popular body with a will of its own. There were also calamities like plague in 1917 and famine in 1918, and on both occasions Vallabhbhai did important work to relieve distress.

Patel was elected in 1917 as Secretary of the Gujarat Sabha, a political body which was of great assistance to Gandhiji in his campaigns. The association with Mahatma Gandhi became close during the Kheda Satyagraha in 1918, which was launched to secure exemption from payment of the land revenue assessment since the crops had failed. It took three months of intense campaigning that was marked by arrests, seizures of goods and chattels and livestock and much official brutality before relief was secured from an unwilling Government. Gandhiji also remarked that if it were not for Vallabhbhai’s assistance that campaign would not have been carried through so successfully.

The period between 1917 to 1922 was marked by popular agitation in India. The end of the First World War was followed by the Rowlatt Act and still further curtailment of individual freedoms. And then followed the Khilafat Movement with massacres and terror in the Punjab. Gandhiji and the Congress decided on Non-Cooperation. Vallabhbhai left his practice for good and gave himself up wholly to political and constructive work, touring in villages, addressing meetings, organizing picketing of foreign cloth shops and liquor shops.

Then came the Bardoli Satyagraha. The occasion for the Satyagraha was the Government’s decision to increase the assessment of land revenue from Bardoli Taluka by 22 per cent and in some villages by as much as 50 to 60 per cent. Having failed to secure redress by other means the agriculturists of the taluka decided, at a Conference on 12 February 1928, to withhold payment of land revenue under the leadership of Vallabhbhai Patel. The struggle was grim and bitter. There were seizures of property and livestock to such an extent that for days on end, people kept themselves and their buffaloes locked in. Arrests followed and then brutalities of the police and the hired Pathans. The struggle drew the attention of the whole country to it. Patels and Talatis resigned their jobs. Government revenues remained unrealized. The Government had ultimately to bow before popular resolve and an inquiry was instituted to find out to what extent the increase was justified and the realization of the increased revenue was postponed. It was a triumph not only of the 80,000 peasants of Bardoli but more particularly of Vallabhbhai personally who was given the title of ‘Sardar’ by the nation.

About this time the political situation in the country was approaching a crisis. The Congress had accepted its goal of Puma Swaraj for the country, while the British Government through their policy of pitting one interest against another and through constitutional tricks were trying to stifle the voice of freedom and doing everything they could to perpetuate their rule. The boycott of the Simon Commission was followed by the launching of the famous Salt Satyagraha by Gandhiji. Vallabhbhai Patel was the first of the national leaders to be arrested though he had not committed any breach of the Salt Law. He was in fact arrested on 7 March 1930—some days before Gandhiji set out on the march to Dandi. He was released in June. By then Gandhiji, Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders were in Jail and the tempo of the struggle in the country was rising. In a few months Vallabhbhai was back in prison.

In March ‘1931, Vallabhbhai presided over the 46th session of the Indian National Congress which was called upon to ratify the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, which had just then been concluded. The task was not an easy one, for Bhagat Singh and a few others had been executed on the very day the Congress session opened and delegates, particularly the younger sections, were in an angry mood, while Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Bose were not happy with the terms of the Pact. But the Congress finally put its seal on the Pact with one voice. Civil Disobedience was suspended, political prisoners were released and the Congress agreed to participate in the Round Table Conference.

The Round Table Conference failed resulting in the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi and other top leaders. A policy of repression followed. Vallabhbhai Patel was lodged with Gandhiji in Yeravada Jail and they were together there for sixteen months from January 1932 to May 1933. Vallabhbhai then spent another year in the Nasik Jail.

When the Government of India Act 1935 came, the Congress, though generally critical of the Act, decided to try out those of its constitutional provisions that seemed to grant to India a measure of self-government and to take part in the elections for Provincial legislatures that were envisaged under it. In seven of the eleven Provinces, Congress majorities were returned and Congress Ministries were formed. Vallabhbhai Patel, as Chairman of the Congress Parliamentary Sub-Committee, guided and controlled the activities of these Ministries.

On 3 September 1939 when Britain declared war on Germany, the Viceroy without consulting either the Central or the Provincial Legislatures, proclaimed India as having entered the war as an ally of Britain. The Congress could not accept this position and the Congress Ministries resigned. Gandhiji launched Individual Civil Disobedience opposing India’s participation in the war, and the Congress leaders began to court arrest. Vallabhbhai Patel was arrested on 17 November 1940. He was released on 20 August 1941 on grounds of health. Then the All India Congress Committee passed the famous Quit India Resolution in Bombay on 8 August 1942, and Vallabhbhai, along with the other members of the Working Committee, was arrested on 9 August 1942 and detained in the Ahmednagar Fort while Gandhiji, Kasturba and Mahadev Desai were detained in the Aga Khan’s Palace. Sardar Patel was in jail for about three years.

At the end of the Second World War, the Congress leaders were freed and the British Government decided to find a peaceful constitutional solution to the problem of India’s Independence. Patel was one of the chief negotiators of the Congress. After Independence he became the Deputy Prime Minister. He was responsible for the Home, States and the Information and Broadcasting portfolios. Patel, who along with Gandhiji and Nehru formed the ‘grand troika’ of India’s freedom movement, is best remembered for the speed, skill and firmness with which he had integrated the Princely States into the Indian Union. As Home Minister he was called upon to tackle the most intricate and baffling problem of the States’ integration into the Union of India. And it is here that his tact, his powers of persuasion and his statesmanship came into full play. He handled the question as only he could have handled it, managing, in less than a year’s time, to reduce the Princely States from 562 to 26 administrative units and bringing democracy to nearly 80 million people of India, comprising almost 27 percent of the country’s population. The integration of Princely States into the Indian Union by Sardar Patel was an achievement considered even greater than Bismarck’s unification of Germany in the 19th century. It was a crowning achievement of Vallabhbhai Patel’s life.

As Minister of Home Affairs, he presided over efforts to bring back order and peace to a country ravaged by communal strife unprecedented in its history. He accomplished this task with the ruthless efficiency of a great administrator. He sorted out the problems of partition, restored law and order and dealt with the rehabilitation of thousands of refugees with great courage and foresight. He reorganised Indian Services which had become depleted with the departure of the British and formed a new Indian Administrative Service, to provide a stable administrative base.

The Sardar gave India territorial unity which it had never enjoyed before and an administrative system imbued with his own zeal for national service. He accomplished the goals unobtrusively and in a spirit of humility. While Mahatma Gandhi gave to the Congress a programme for a broad-based action, it was Vallabhbhai who built up the Party machine to carry out the programme. No one before Vallabhbhai had given adequate thought to the need to have an effective organisation, but Vallabhbhai realised this need during his campaigns and devoted his organisational talents and energy to the building up of the strength of the Party which could be geared to fight in an organised and effective manner. His grip over the Party organisation was complete.

Vallabhbhai Patel was one of the chief architects and guardians of India’s freedom and his contribution towards consolidating the freedom of the country remains unrivalled. He died on 15 December 1950 leaving behind a son, Dahyabhai Patel, and a daughter, Maniben Patel.

Sardar Patel’s life was full of drama, a life devoted to the service of a great movement under a great leader, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel shaped events and mastered circumstances. He was born at the right time and with a superb political temperament and strong nerves and was entirely free from temptation.

The grateful nation conferred on him posthumously on 17 June 1991 the highest honour of India, Bharat Ratna, in recognition of the unique service rendered by him.


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