SARDAR VALLABHBHAI PATEL
Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel was born on October 31, 1875. There is no official record of his birth date. He chose the date in a form from 17 years after himself, which is the generally accepted day of his birthday.
The Patels were agriculturalists in the Lewa Patidar Community. Being a lower-middle-class family, they weren't too well off, but they managed to keep themselves away from overly spoiled children.
Vallabhbhai's childhood was spent away from books, in the 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 there, he matriculated in 1897.
It didn't take long for Vallabhbhai's leadership abilities to show. During his time as a student, he organized a strike with his classmates when one teacher wasn't teaching fairly. It lasted three days and was a warning shot to the teacher.
Vallabhbhai must have inherited his father's legacy. His father fought in the Mutiny under the Rani of Jhansi and was subsequently taken prisoner by Malhar Rao Holkar.
The next best thing for Vallabhbhai was to take a course in law and set up as a country lawyer. It was very good practice, but unfortunately, his family couldn't afford it.
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 was quite popular here as a defense lawyer. Now he wanted to go to England and qualify as a barrister. From his practice at Borsad, he'd earned enough for his expenses there but owing to certain circumstances, he was unable to make the trip right away.
Vallabhbhai had always been the more handsome of the brothers and Vithulbhai was in no mood to compete. At Vallabhbhai's request, in 1909 he took his brother under his wing and studied law at Oxford. After Zaverbai died, Vallabhbhai was dangerously busy because he was cross-examining a witness in a murder case called Anand.
Instead of showing grief and going with the cross-examination, he continued on with it and sailed for England in 1910. He then studied Roman Law at Middle Temple and surprisingly managed to top his class. He was called to the Bar in only two years due to his hard work instead of the usual three.
When Vishwamitra returned to India after studying and practicing law in Europe, he soon found success. He had a ready wit, a deep sense of understanding and sympathy for those caught in the clutches of the law, and was respected by his colleagues for his ability as a barrister.
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Early Political Career
Mahatma Gandhi was a leader of the imagination. He led from inspiration, love, and fearlessness in his fight for justice. In 1917 he was elected to the position of Sanitation Commissioner for the first time, making him one of equal importance with the British authorities he had fought against all his life.
From 1924 to 1928, he served on the Municipal Committee. The years of his service with the Municipal administration were marked by a lot of meaningful work for improvement in civic life. Work was done, specifically, water supply, sanitation, and town planning, and the Municipality was transformed into a popular body with its own will.
There were calamities like plague and famine in 1917, and on both occasions, Vallabhbhai did important work to relieve distress. In 1917, he was elected Secretary of the Gujarat Sabha, a political body that was of great assistance to Gandhiji in his campaigns. In 1918, he campaigned for the Kheda Satyagraha and helped launch the Satyagraha campaign to secure a tax exemption for those who didn't have enough food because the crops had failed.
Finally, during the Rowlatt Act movement from 1919-1922, he conducted many protests with Gandhi and helped him carry through a successful effort. Then came the Khilafat movement with massacres and terror in Punjab around 1920; Gandhiji's non-cooperation policy rose effective by 1922 and then he visited villages during the Bardoli struggle where he was arrested with violence but still won due to help from Vallabhbhai Patel who gave up his practice for good.
Role in Indian National Movement
As the political situation reached a crisis, Congress' goal of Purna Swaraj was accepted. The British Government, through their policy of curbing freedom and while they tried to use constitutional tricks worked to make themselves stronger. These maneuvers were made with the intent to bolster their rule.
After the Salt Satyagraha, the leader of the Indian independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi, was arrested in Dandi. This event led to a series of protests which ended with the boycott of British products and services.
By then, Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders like Vallabhbhai Patel were in jail, and the tempo of the struggle in India was rising. In a few months, Vallabhbhai was back in prison.
Now, Congress finally saw a way forward in signing the Pact. The civil disobedience movement was put to rest, a cease-fire was declared, and political prisoners were released. Things went well for a while, but eventually, a new outbreak of repression occurred when Vallabhbhai Patel and Gandhiji were arrested and thrown into prison.
Vallabhbhai spent another year in the Nasik Jail. Once the Act came, Congress was generally critical of it, but they decided to let certain provisions take place. Those included elections for Provincial legislatures and hoping that Indians would get some self-government.
In eleven 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.
However, on September 3, 1939, when Britain declared war on Germany, Viceroy without consulting either the Central or Provincial Legislatures proclaimed India as having entered the war as an ally of Britain.
The Indian Congress refused to accept this position and the Congress Ministries resigned. Mahatma Gandhi used Individual Civil Disobedience to oppose India's participation in the war, which made the Congress leaders begin court arrests. Vallabhbhai Patel was arrested on November 17, 1940, and released back into health on August 20, 1941.
Then the All India Congress Committee passed the famous Quit India resolution on August 8th, 1942, and Vallabhbhai Patel was arrested on August 9th, 1942. He was detained in the Ahmednagar Fortress while Gandhiji and other members of the Working Committee were taken to Aga Khan's Palace.
When the British decided to declare India's independence, they called upon Sardar Patel to become one of the chief negotiators. However, he had been imprisoned for three years so he was not able to play an active role during the negotiations. When the Congress leaders were freed, he lent his support and played an important role in bringing about a peaceful constitutional solution.
Contributions to Post Independence India
When India attained independence, he became the Deputy Prime Minister and was responsible for the Home, States, and Information and Broadcasting portfolios. He helped handle the most intricate and baffling problem of integrating states into the Union of India. And it is here that his tactual prowess, his powers to persuade others, and his statesmanship came into full play. He handled this question with such skill that in less than a year's time, he reduced the princely states from 562 to 26 administrative units and brought democracy to nearly 80 million people in India including almost 27 percent of the population--nearly 27 million out of over 400 million citizens!
The integration of Indian states could certainly be considered one of Prof. Patel's crowning achievements. But it would not have been achieved easily or quickly without him. As Minister of Home Affairs in 1947-1948-1949, he presided over efforts to bring back order and peace to a country torn apart by communal strife unprecedented in its history. With ruthless efficiency, like a great administrator, he managed this task within a relatively quick period of time.
Role After Partition
He was fearless in restoring law and order while also dealing with the rehabilitation of thousands of refugees. He also formed a new Indian Administrative Service to be the administration base during our new democracy.
Contribution to Congress Party
The Congress Party had raised funds for the struggling Bania community in Gujarat. Vallabhbhai Patel was asked to oversee this effort. After seeing how much he could do as an individual, he then realized the need to have an organized set of rules and plans to take action in the Congress Party. Patel built a stable organization and continued building it into one of the most powerful political parties in India.
Vallabhbhai Patel was a powerful party politician who supported India's independence and helped consolidate it. His contribution to the country's freedom remains unmatched.
He died on December 15, 1950, leaving behind a son and a daughter.
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