February , 2023
Maniben Vallabhbhai Patel: A Life
17:46 pm

Ravindra Kumar & Mrs. Kamlesh Kumari

“Like the Sardar (Patel), Gandhiji never hide anything from me. In this regard, I believe, he was the best man of his era.” –Maniben Vallabhbhai Patel

Born on April 3, 1903 in a Patel-Patidar family of Karamsad village of Kheda district in Gujarat, Maniben Vallabhbhai Patel had the unique combination of simplicity, service, honesty, faith, and devotion. She was the only daughter of Sardar Patel, the Ironman as well as the Maker of United India.    

Maniben’s education started at the Queen Mary’s school in Mumbai and later she was admitted to the High School, Ahmedabad. She graduated from Gujarat Vidyapeeth in 1925 AD, which was established by Mahatma Gandhi in the year 1920 AD.

Inspired by the teachings of Gandhiji, in the year 1918 AD, at the age of fifteen, she started taking part in activities relating to the National Liberation Movement and in the constructive works started by Mahatma Gandhi. She used to visit the Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad regularly.

Besides helping people in daily chores of the Sabarmati Ashram, she rendered services required for conducting activities pertaining to the Kheda Satyagraha in which his father Vallabhbhai Patel was himself the Deputy Leader. Further, Maniben participated in the Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movement (1920 AD), in the historic Bardoli Kisan Satyagraha (1928 AD) and also the Civil Disobedience Movement (1930 AD). In the Bardoli Kisan Agitation, at the age of just twenty-five, she had herself lead a Satyagraha-camp.

She was imprisoned many times between 1930 and 1945 AD. Along with Kasturba Gandhi (lifetime: 1869-1944 AD), she was arrested in Rajkot in 1939 AD while participating in a Satyagraha demanding people’s rights and freedom in that princely state. Likewise, Maniben was a part of the Individual Satyagraha (1940 AD) and the Quit India Movement (1942 AD) respectively. She spent more than twelve years in different jails.

From 1930 AD, Maniben Vallabhbhai Patel became very active in all the constructive programmes started from time-to-time by Mahatma and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Her endeavours and work in saving the people of Borsad from Plague in the year 1935 AD remained exemplary.

Similarly, after the freedom of the country from the English in the year 1947 AD, the services rendered by her as a member of the Managing Committee of the Central Social Welfare Board (1953-1958 AD), and the Western Railways Reforms Board (1953-1961 AD), and as a lifelong trustee of the Kasturba Memorial Trust, Indore, the Kasturba Maternity Home, Kheda and the Navajivan Trust, Ahmedabad were also exemplary. Maniben firmly believed, “There is no substitute to service. Service is the acid test of humanity. Service to man is service to God –Nara-seva is Narayana-seva; selfless service is the way to make life-meaningful.”

Maniben Patel did not marry and devoted her whole life to nation-building and helping his father, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in his works for the country. She was very protective of her father and took care to see that he, the Sardar, was not a victim of embarrassment of politically ambitious people working under him. GV Mavalankar (lifetime: 1888-1956 AD), the First Speaker of Lok Sabha (tenure: 1952-1956 AD) once remarked, “India will ever remain grateful to her, as she was serving India through her service to her father.”

Working as Sardar’s Secretary, Maniben kept records of thousands of documents, letters and information that were related to the life and works of the Sardar and also the series of events pertaining to the National Liberation Movement of India in the Gandhian era. It is indeed a priceless treasure of contemporary-modern Indian history today.

Besides becoming a member of the CWC (Congress Working Committee) and Treasurer of the Indian National Congress in 1950, Maniben Vallabhbhai Patel was elected several times to both the Houses of Parliament, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, between 1952 and 1980 AD. On March 26, 1990 at the age of 86, she passed away in Ahmedabad. In his rich tribute to Maniben, NG Ranga (lifetime: 1900-1995 AD) had said, “India owes a debt of gratitude to the silent, but iron-willed daughter of the Sardar, for her exemplary public spirit, integrity and loyalty.”  

*A Padma Shri and Sardar Patel National Awardee Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut; he is, currently the Ombudsman of Swami Vivekananda Subharati University, Meerut (India).

**Mrs. Kamlesh Kumari, currently, works with Education Department of Haryana State.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.