Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one among the outstanding freedom fighters of India, was popularly known as 'Iron Man of India'. He used to earn thousands of rupees every month as a lawyer. But he gave up his practice inorder to fight for the freedom of the country. As a leader of the farmers he forced the mighty British Government to accept defeat. He was sent to prison. As the Deputy Prime Minister of free India, he brought about the merger of hundreds of princely states with the Indian Union, and became the architect of the integrity of India. The title 'Sardar' was conferred on him by Gandhiji on account of his powerful movement against the British for the freedom of India, and for keeping the privileges of the poor people of the country.
Sardar's early years
Vallabhbhai was born in Nadiad on Oct 31, 1875 in a small village in Gujarat. His father was Jhaverbhai Patel, and his mother, Ladbai. Jhaverbhai was a poor farmer. He was a strong and sturdy man. His country and freedom were as dear to him as his own life.
During his school days, one day a teacher made a mistake in working a sum. Vallabh- bhai pointed out the error. The teacher was very angry and said, "All right, you be the teacher." The boy replied, "Very well, sir." He worked the sum correctly, and sat down in the teacher's chair!
Vallabhbhai first chose Sanskrit. Then he changed to Gujarati. Sanskrit was dearer to the teacher who taught Gujarati than his own subject. When Vallabhbhai entered his class, the teacher wanted to taunt him, and said, "Welcome, great man!" Poor man, he did not know that the boy would one day become a very great man.
He asked the boy, in anger, "Why did you give up Sanskrit and choose Gujarati?"
Vallabhbhai answered, "If every one chooses Sanskrit, you will have no work."
The teacher was in a rage. He complained to the headmaster. Vallabhbhai narrated to the headmaster all that had happened. The headmaster said, "I have not seen such a bold pupil." This made the teacher even more bitter. Vallabhbhai, too, did not wish to remain in that school. He went back. He studied at home and passed the examination.
Sardar as a lawyer
After completing his law studies from England, he started his practice in Gujarat. He had followed a western life style. Influenced by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, he discarded his foreign clothes. In 1918, Sardar Patel led a revolt against the unjust decision of the British government to collect tax from the farmers of Kaira, though there was a flood in the area. He also led a similar strike against the British in 1928. He was imprisoned for the first time when he participated in the famous Salt Satyagraha with Mahatma Gandhi. With great wisdom and political foresight, he joined several small kingdoms in Indian Union.
After independence, he held the positions of home minister, minister of state and the minister for information and broadcasting. He died in Dec 1950 in Mumbai.