Biography: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel - The iron man of India
Napoleon Hill, advisor to former US President Franklyn Roosevelt, the author of bestselling book 'Think and Grow rich', says, "Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness."
Precisely, today I remember the man whose soul strength was the ability to sacrifice. He epitomized sacrifice not only in political but also in personal life. Nevertheless, neither was he fortunate to have had a cult following among his countrymen nor many social-welfare schemes named after his name.
There is only one man for whom the opening remarks suit so aptly. Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel, the creator of the union of India. Born on 31 October 1875 in Nadiad village in Gujarat, Patel was loyal follower of Gandhiji and closest comrade of Nehru. Sardarji, on the advice of Mahatma Gandhi, not only once but thrice let Nehru be the president of Congress in 1929, 1937, and 1946.
Still, he remained a trusted lieutenant to the party. Never have I heard of Sardarji was ever perceived as a threat to Nehru's leadership in the Congress party. A glaring contrast with the present political culture in Independent India!
Cynics doubt the sublime quality of sacrifice of Vallabhbhai. And they might even attribute his sacrifice to Gandhiji's call. However, another instance in Vallabhbhai's life beyond doubt debunks that disparage.
Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, by far the most authentic writer on the life of Sardarji, accounts the story of sacrifice even before young Vallabhbhai became a national figure- Sardar.
Rajmohan writes that Vallabhbhai displayed his strength in 1905. When he wanted to pursue Barrister course in England. But the postman delivered the passport and a ticket to his elder brother Vithalbhai Patel, who had the same initial V.J. Patel. Vithalbhai said, "I am older. Let me go first. You can go later". Not just passport and the ticket, Vallabhbhai sent money for Vithalbhai's stay in England. Later, at the age of 35, father of two children, he accomplished his bar exam on top of the class.
What does sacrifice mean to present political leaders? I wonder whether our present so-called 'leaders' have that soul of sacrifice. Precedents set by dynastic politics have worsened the political climate in recent days.