Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875-1950) was the ‘Maker of United India’ and a leading patron and defender of Indianness of his time.
Vallabhbhai belonged to the clan of Leva Patel of the Patidar community renowned for fighting and sacrificing for nationalism. Leva Patidars protested actively against the attacks of Mughals on Gujarat. They played an important role in chasing out the Mughal subedar from the area and established the rule of Pilajirao Gaekwad (1721-32 AD) in Baroda. Patidars contributed in the extension of the territory of the Maratha rule ahead of Surat with the purpose of defending Indian culture. Jhaverbhai Galabhai Patel (1829-1914 AD), father of Vallabhbhai, participated in the much talked about revolutionary struggle for freedom of India in 1857. He took part in this struggle fighting against the English from the side of Veerangana Lakshmibai (1828-58), the Queen of Jhansi.
Vithalbhai Jhaverbhai Patel (1873-1933 AD), the elder brother of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was a front ranking fighter in the national liberation movement. He was elected as the first Indian President – Speaker (1925-30 AD) of the Central Legislative Assembly. His contribution in laying the founda-tion of democratic institutions is still exemplary. Vithalbhai Patel was also a political mentor of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Kashibhai Jhaverbhai Patel (1877-1975), the younger brother of Sardar Patel got influenced with the nationalism of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and took part in the Swadeshi Movement in 1905. Thus, he was ahead of Vithalbhai and Vallabhbhai in joining the independence movement. Later he also participated actively in Satyagrahas under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and was a leading freedom fighter.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s daughter Sushri Manibehn (1903-90 AD) and his son Dahyabhai Patel (1905-73 AD) were also freedom fighters. Manibehn actively and enthusiastically participated in all the Satyagrahas, from the historic Bardoli Kisan Andolan in 1928 to Quit India movement in 1942. Manibehn stood by her father in his remarkable work of national integration.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s contribution as a leader in the Indian independence movement, his remarkable and distinguished work of national integration by adding more than six lakhs square mile area of more than five hundred and fifty princely states in India and his farsighted and mantra for national security, prosperity and integrity established
him as one of the greatest Indians. His mantra was that each and every countryman must first and foremost consider her/himself Indian above her/his sect, caste-creed and regional identity and stay committed to the unity and integrity of the nation. She/he must feel proud to be an Indian and work for the progress of a unified nation.
— A Padma Shri and Sardar Patel National Awardee Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut; he is also the Editor-in-Chief of Global Peace International Journal.
[The view expressed here are personal and don’t reflect those of the government]