As we paid tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 72nd death anniversary, the man who united India, it is time to recall how this great leader, popularly known as ‘The Iron Man of India’ worked with astonishing zeal and speed to dismantle the history of imperialism and create the geography of unity with the spirit of nationalism. In fact he was the man behind saving India from Balkanization and integrated even the weakest of limbs into the national frame- work. It was undoubtedly a herculean task when the British rulers left India but not without playing their canny politics.
The prime minister of Britain, Winston Churchill had already ordered the preparation of an imperial strategy with the intention of Balkanizing India and tightening Britain’s post- war hold over her. The strategy envisaged two Pakistans, one in the west to include the non-Muslim east Punjab; the east, the whole of Bengal (despite Hindus comprising almost half the population), and the predominantly Hindu Assam. Within her borders, India was to be Balkanized with the creation of independent confederations of princely states. Attlee’s policy statement of 20th February 1947 was to implement the same and Mountbatten was given the mandate to transfer power and quit India by June 1948, a date that was advanced to August 1947. However, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel foiled Churchill’s strategy. He made an extraordinary contribution, from his unflinching support to Gandhi’s satyagrahas and the Indian freedom struggle, to his farsighted and courageous approach in building a strong, integrated India. The significance of his contribution can be well judged from the fact that every year the nation celebrates the birthday anniversary of this Iron Man of India as National Unity Day (Rashtriya Ekta Diwas). A lawyer by profession he grew up to become the First Deputy Prime Minister of India. A truly great social leader, his work was characterized by excellence. He made his spot in the histo- ry of this nation and the hearts of its people for eternity. He also played an instrumental role in India’s struggle for inde- pendence and is hailed today for his contributions especial- ly that of accomplishing the herculean task of the political integration of India by uniting 562 princely states with the nation. This earned him the title of Iron Man of India as he was a strong revolutionary and all the princes were drawn towards him for consolidation. While the nation and its peo- ple shall remain indebted to Bharat Ratna Sardar Patel for all times to come, at the same time in the current scenario with anti-India forces from within and outside hell bent upon disintegrating the world’s largest democracy, it is necessary that the people across the nation realize the gravity of situ- ation and rise to the occasion with a strong dedication and resolve to foil the evil designs of the anti national elements through peaceful means. Moreover, the youth across the nation need to emulate this great leader and play their role in nation building. This would undoubtedly be the best trib- ute to the Iron Man of India.