Can you imagine travelling to Hyderabad with a Pakistan visa? This imagination would have been a reality if India didn’t have a freedom fighter like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Popularly known as Sardar Patel, this social leader has many sobriquets including the Iron Man of India and Bismarck of India among others. He played a very significant role in unifying the country and it’s because of his efforts, today we don’t require a visa to travel to other states.
To acknowledge this unrivalled contribution of Sardar Patel to our country’s unification, India commemorates his birth anniversary as the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas or National Unity Day on 31st October.
As the nation gears up to pay tribute to this legendary statesman, here are a few lesser-known facts about Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
1. His original date of birth is not October 31
If October 31 is not Sardar Patel’s date of birth, then why do we celebrate his birthday on this day? The truth is there is no official record of Sardar Patel’s original date of birth. When he was taking his matriculation exam, he was asked his date of birth and he randomly said 31st October 1875 and since then it has been considered his birth date.
2. Credited with unifying India:
Just like Otto von Bismarck united Germany in 1860’s, Sardar Patel unified India. This is what earned him the title – ‘Bismarck of India’. Along with V.P. Menon, Patel successfully finished the herculean task of uniting 565 semi-independent princely states with the Indian Union especially Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir who initially refused to join.
3. Never dreamt of being a politician:
Sardar Patel always wanted to be a barrister. In 1913, when he returned to India from England, he gained popularity as a criminal lawyer and earned great wealth and fame. It was a chance meeting in 1917 with Mahatma Gandhi that caused an internal shift in Patel. He left his job and joined the Indian Independence struggle, becoming one of India’s tallest statesmen.
4. Established the Indian Administrative Services:
Sardar Patel didn’t just play an instrumental role in India’s Independence but also in creating the IAS - Indian Administrative Services. It’s for this reason that he is remembered as the ‘Patron Saint of India’s Civil Servants’.
5. Could have been Independent India’s first Prime Minister:
As per the historical records, during the 1946 Congress election, 13 out of 16 states selected Patel as their president. However, honouring Gandhi’s request Patel stepped down in favour of Jawahar Lal Nehru, which then opened the path for the latter to become the first Prime Minister.
On his 147th birth anniversary, go ahead and watch the 1993 Indian Biopic ‘Sardar’ directed by Ketan Mehta in which Paresh Rawal essays the titular role, to know more about this dynamic Indian statesman.