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Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel


Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel (31 October 1875 – 15 December 1950), popularly known as Sardar Patel, was an Indian politician. He served as the first Deputy Prime Minister of India. He was an Indian barrister, a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and a founding father of the Republic of India who played a leading role in the country's struggle for independence and guided its integration into a united, independent nation.

Sardar early life and freedom struggle

Patel was raised in the countryside of the state of Gujarat. He was a successful lawyer. He subsequently organised peasants from Kheda, Borsad, and Bardoli in Gujarat in non-violent civil disobedience against the British Raj, becoming one of the most influential leaders in Gujarat. He was appointed as the 49th President of Indian National Congress, organising the party for elections in 1934 and 1937 while promoting the Quit India Movement.
Patel joined the Congress and became the secretary of the Gujarat Sabha that became a Congress stronghold later. On Gandhi’s call, Patel quit his hard-earned job and joined the movement to fight for exemption of taxes in Kheda at the time of plague and famine (1918). Patel joined Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement (1920) and travelled around West India to recruit 3,00,000 members. He also collected more than Rs 1.5 million for the party fund. There was a British law banning the hoisting of the Indian Flag. When Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned, it was Patel who led the Satyagraha movement in Nagpur in 1923 against the British law. On the outbreak of World War II (1939), Patel the supported Nehru’s decision to withdraw the Congress from central and provincial legislatures. During Quit India Movement (1942), the British arrested Patel and he was imprisoned from 1942 to 1945 at the fort in Ahmednagar.

Sardar Role in Uniting India

As a Home Minister of India, Patel organised relief efforts for refugees fleeing to Punjab and Delhi from Pakistan and worked to restore peace. He led the task of forging a united India, successfully integrating into the newly independent nation those British colonial provinces and princely states that had been "allocated" to India. Threatening military force, Patel persuaded almost every princely state to accede to India. His commitment to national integration in the newly independent country was total and uncompromising, earning him the sobriquet "Iron Man of India". He is also remembered as the "patron saint of India's civil servants". The Statue of Unity, the world's tallest statue, was dedicated to him on 31 October 2018 which is approximately 182 metres (597 ft) in height.

Sardar as a INC President

  • Karachi session of INC in 1931
  • Congress committed itself to the defence of fundamental rights and civil liberties.
  • Patel advocated for the establishment of a secular nation.
  • Economic policy which focus on:
    • Minimum wages for workers and the
    • Industries promotion based on domestic capital and equally focus on small and medium enterprises
  • Abolition of untouchability were among his other priorities.
  • Patel used his position as Congress president to organise the return of confiscated land to farmers in Gujarat.

Political Philosophy and differences with Nehru

  • Patel, however, was no revolutionary.
  • Patel believed (like Gandhi and Motilal Nehru) that the goal of the Indian National Congress should be dominion status within the British Commonwealth—not independence. While Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bosed demand complete independence instead of Dominion state.
  • In contrast to Jawaharlal Nehru, who condoned violence in the struggle for independence, Patel ruled out armed revolution, not on moral but on practical grounds. Patel held that it would be abortive and would entail severe repression.
  • Patel saw advantages in the future participation of a free India in a British Commonwealth, provided that India was admitted as an equal member.
  • He emphasized the need to foster Indian self-reliance and self-confidence.
  • Gandhi in favour of Hindu-Muslim unity to get freedom but, unlike Gandhi, he did not regard Hindu-Muslim unity as a prerequisite for independence.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru stressed on the need to bring about economic and social changes by coercion while Patel against this idea of using coercion in Indian society.
  • Patel was not in the favour of adapting socialist ideas to the Indian social and economic structure.
  • He believed in free enterprise, thus gaining the trust of conservative elements, and thereby collected the funds that sustained the activities of the Indian National Congress.
  • During the war Patel rejected as impractical Gandhi’s nonviolence in the face of the then-expected Japanese invasion of India. On the transfer of power, Patel differed with Gandhi in realizing that the partition of the subcontinent into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan was inevitable, and he asserted that it was in India’s interests to part with Pakistan.
  • Nehru was widely considered Left-wing (socialism) while Patel’s ideologies were aligned with the Right-wing (capitalism).

Patel was not against Minority

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was an open defender of Hindu interests and put his view openly with strong arguments, this however made Patel less popular among minorities. So this create his communal image, however, Patel was never communal. As Home Minister, he did his best to protect Muslim lives in Delhi during riots. Patel had a Hindu heart but he ruled with an impartial and secular hand.

Patel Ethical, Moral and Cultural Philosophy

  • Patel adhered to Gandhi’s satyagraha (policy of nonviolence) insofar as it furthered the Indian struggle against the British.
  • Patel did not identify himself with Gandhi’s moral convictions and ideals, and he regarded Gandhi’s emphasis on their universal application as irrelevant to India’s immediate political, economic, and social problems.
  • On Gandhi call, He quit the Gujarat Club, dressed in the white cloth of the Indian peasant, and ate in the Indian manner.
  • Patel has concern for Indian peasant and Patel made his mark in 1918, when he planned mass campaigns of peasants, farmers, and landowners of Khaira, Gujarat, against the decision of the Bombay government to collect the full annual revenue taxes despite crop failures caused by heavy rains.
  • Patel worked extensively against alcohol consumption, untouchability, caste discrimination and for women emancipation in Gujarat and outside.
  • Patel organised relief efforts for refugees fleeing from Punjab and Delhi and worked to restore peace.
  • Sardar Patel vowed to rebuild Somnath Temple. Somnath had been destroyed and built several times in the past. He felt that the story of its resurrection from ruins this time would be symbolic of the story of the resurgence of India.

Patel's view on Economic Policy

Patel guided the cooperative movements in Gujarat and helped in setting up of the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union which proved to be a game changer for the dairy farming throughout the country. Sardar thought on adoption of capital based economy instead of communism or socialism which was unsuitable for India Patel also concern for the poor people of the country and agree the role for the government was that of a welfare state. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel rejected nationalisation completely and was against controls. To him, the profit motive was a great stimulant to exertion, not a stigma. In 1950 he said, “Millions of idle hands that have no work cannot find employment on machines”. He urged labourers to participate in creating wealth before claiming a just share. Sardar championed investment-led growth. He said, “Spend less, save more, and invest as much as possible should be the motto of every citizen.

Sardar's Role in the Integration of Princely States

Few princely states like Travancore, Hyderabad, Junagadh, Bhopal and Kashmir were averse to joining the state of India. Sardar Patel worked tirelessly to build a consensus with the princely states but did not hesitate in employing methods of Sama, Dama, Dand and Bhed where ever necessary. He had used force to annex princely states of Junagadh ruled by Nawab and Hyderabad ruled by Nizam, both of whom had wished not to merge their respective states with Union of India. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel stitched the princely states along with British Indian territory and prevented balkanization of India.