|Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel |
|Date of Birth||:||Oct 31, 1875|
|Date of Death||:||Dec 15, 1950|
|Place of Birth||:||Gujarat|
Vallabhbhai Patel was a major political and social leader of India and its struggle for independence, and is credited for achieving the political integration of independent India. In India and across the world, he is known as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, where Sardar stands for Chief in many languages of India. Patel organized the peasants of Kheda, Borsad, and Bardoli in Gujarat in non-violent civil disobedience against the oppressive policies imposed by the British Raj - becoming one of the most influential leaders in Gujarat. He rose to the leadership of the Indian National Congress and at the forefront of rebellions and political events - organizing the party for elections in 1934 and 1937, and leading Indians into the Quit India movement. He was imprisoned by the British government on numerous occasions, especially from 1931 to 1934, and from 1942 to 1945. Becoming the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India, Patel organized relief and rehabilitation efforts in the riot-struck Punjab and Delhi, and led efforts to restore security. Patel took charge of the task to forge a united India from a plethora of semi-independent princely states, colonial provinces and possessions. Patel employed an iron fist in a velvet glove diplomacy - frank political negotiations backed with the option (and the use) of military action to weld a nation that could emancipate its people without the prospect of divisions or civil conflict. His leadership obtained the peaceful and swift integration of all 565 princely states into the Republic of India. Patel's initiatives spread democracy extensively across India, and re-organized the states to help transform India into a modern federal republic. His admirers call him the Iron Man of India. He is also remembered as the "patron saint" of India's civil servants for his defence of them against political attack, and for being one of the earliest and key defenders of property rights and free enterprise in independent India.
On 29 March 1949, a plane carrying Patel and the Maharaja of Patiala lost radio contact, and Patel's life was feared for all over the nation. The plane had made an emergency landing in the desert of Rajasthan upon an engine failure, and Patel and all passengers were safe, and traced by nearby villagers. When Patel returned to Delhi, members of Parliament and thousands of Congressmen gave him a raucous welcome. In Parliament, MPs gave a thunderous ovation to Patel - stopping proceedings for half an hour. Till his last few days, he was constantly at work in Delhi. Patel's health worsened after 2 November 1950, and he was flown to Bombay to recuperate. After suffering a massive heart attack - his second - he died in Bombay on December 15th, 1950. In an unprecedented gesture, more than 1,500 officers of India's civil and police services congregated at Patel's residence in Delhi on the day after his death to mourn him - they pledged "complete loyalty and unremmitting zeal" in India's service. His cremation in Sonapur, Bombay, was attended by large crowds, Nehru, Rajagopalachari, President Prasad and many Congressmen and freedom fighters.