Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel: The Iron Man of India

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel: The Iron Man of India


Why in the news? : The Prime Minister of India has commemorated Sardar Patel on his birth anniversary, acknowledging the significant role played by this great leader in preserving our nation's unity and integrity.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the key architects of India's freedom struggle and the unification of the nation post-independence, remains an iconic figure in the country's history. His birth anniversary on October 31 is celebrated as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas or National Unity Day. This day is an occasion to remember his remarkable contributions to India's nation-building process. Sardar Patel, popularly known as the "Iron Man of India," played a pivotal role in integrating princely states, shaping India's administrative structure, and promoting national unity. In this comprehensive exploration of his life and legacy, we delve into the multifaceted journey of Sardar Patel, tracing his early life, contributions to India's freedom struggle, and significant role in the unification of the nation.

Early Life of Sardar Patel

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was born on October 31, 1875, in Nadiad, a small town in Gujarat. He came from a humble background but displayed immense potential from a young age. Patel pursued his education in law and eventually became a barrister. In his early years, he was somewhat indifferent to Indian politics, focusing on establishing his legal practice. However, his life took a significant turn when he came into contact with Mahatma Gandhi, who would become his mentor and guide. Gandhi's principles of non-violence and civil disobedience deeply influenced Patel, eventually leading him to embrace these ideologies in his fight for India's independence.

Contributions in India's Freedom Struggle

  • Kheda Satyagraha (1917): One of Sardar Patel's earliest notable contributions to the Indian freedom struggle was his support and leadership during the Kheda Satyagraha. He assisted Mahatma Gandhi in organizing and leading the Satyagraha, which aimed to protest against the unjust land revenue tax imposed by the British. Patel's strong leadership encouraged the local community to join the protest, making it a resounding success.
  • Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-22): During the Non-Cooperation Movement, Patel played a crucial role. He recruited approximately 300,000 members and raised 1.5 million rupees for the movement. He advocated the boycott of British goods and promoted the use of Khadi as a symbol of economic and cultural self-sufficiency.
  • Bardoli Satyagraha (1928): Sardar Patel stood in solidarity with the people of Bardoli, a region suffering from the devastating effects of famine and the burden of increased land taxes imposed by the British. Patel's leadership was instrumental in the success of the Bardoli Satyagraha, a movement that resulted in the complete denial of tax payments to the British. His contributions in this movement earned him the popular epithet 'Sardar,' which means 'leader' or 'chief.'
  • Leadership in the Indian National Congress: Patel assumed various leadership roles within the Indian National Congress. He presided over the Karachi Session in 1931, a session known for ratifying the Gandhi-Irwin Pact and passing a resolution on Fundamental Rights. He also served as the Chairman of the Central Parliamentary Board in 1934.
  • Civil Disobedience Movement (1930-34): Patel's alignment with Mahatma Gandhi during the Civil Disobedience Movement resulted in his advocacy for the boycott of British goods, refusal to pay taxes, and participation in nonviolent protests and strikes. His commitment to civil disobedience led to his arrest and a prison sentence of around 9 months.
  • Quit India Movement (1942): During the Quit India Movement, Patel organized and inspired protests and strikes against British rule. His electrifying speeches and leadership motivated people across India to join mass protests, engage in acts of civil disobedience, boycott tax payments, and stage civil service shutdowns. He also implemented strategies to protect national leaders from arrest and spearheaded fundraising campaigns to support the movement.
  • Support for Liberal Industrial Policy (1948): Patel's support for a liberal industrial policy laid the foundation for India's economic growth and development.

Contributions in the Unification of India

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's contributions to the unification of India were nothing short of extraordinary:

  • Political Integration of India: Patel played a pivotal role during the political integration of India and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.
  • Integration of Princely States: Patel's most significant achievement was persuading almost every princely state to accede to India. Through a combination of diplomacy, persuasion, and coercion, he succeeded in bringing these states under the umbrella of the Indian government. This process ensured the territorial integrity and unity of India.
  • Administrative Reforms: Patel's role in creating a unified administrative structure for the newly independent India is equally commendable. He is remembered as the 'patron saint of India's civil servants' for pioneering the establishment of the modern All India Services system. He played a crucial role in the creation of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), which became the backbone of India's civil services. He famously referred to it as the 'steel frame' of India. His contributions also led to the establishment of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad, a prestigious institution for training police officers.
  • Promotion of National Integration: Patel's strong belief in the 'Idea of India' as a single nation, despite its diversity, was instrumental in promoting national integration. He emphasized that India must stand united, and his vision for the country served as a unifying force.

Other Contributions

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel played a crucial role in several key Constitutional Committees, such as the Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Committee on Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas, and Provincial Constitution Committee.


Sardar Patel's remarkable contributions earned him several honors:

  • Iron Man of India: He was aptly referred to as the 'Iron Man of India' for his unparalleled roles in ensuring the unity and integrity of the nation.
  • Bharat Ratna: He was posthumously honored with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, in 1991.
  • National Unity Day: The Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, or National Unity Day, is celebrated every year on October 31 to commemorate Sardar Patel's birth anniversary.
  • The Statue of Unity: Unveiled on October 31, 2018, the Statue of Unity is the tallest statue in the world. It stands as a tribute to Sardar Patel and his extraordinary contributions to the nation.
  • Sardar Sarovar Dam: The Sardar Sarovar Dam, built across the Narmada River in Gujarat, is another symbol of Patel's legacy.


Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's life and work serve as a beacon of selfless service, unity, and indomitable determination. His role in shaping modern India is unparalleled, and his legacy continues to inspire generations

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