India's first home minister and also the first deputy prime minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel died today 67 years ago, at the age of 75. Known as the "Iron Man" of India, Patel was instrumental in uniting the country through merger of small princely states.
Here are 10 things you should know about Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Passed Class 10 at 22
The Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, passed Class 10 at the age of 22. TPatel travelled to attend schools in Nadiad, Petlad and Borsad. At the age of 36 he journeyed to England and enrolled at the Middle Temple Inn in London. Completing a 36-month course in 30 months, Patel finished at the top of his class despite having had no previous college background.
Win by one vote
On January 5, 1917 Sardar was elected councillor of the Ahmedabad municipality for the first time. He had contested from Dariyapur seat then, and had won by just one vote. In 1924, Sardar was elected president of Ahmedabad municipality.
Setting up health labs
India had just two public health laboratories - in Pune and in Karachi in 1921. Sardar felt the need for more such laboratories that could track diseases and keep a check on quality of drinking water supply and food supplies. The third laboratory was set up within Dudheshwar waterworks compound at Shahibaugh.
Corruption charges against Patel
When corruption charges were pressed against Sardar Patel and 18 other councillors in Ahmedabad municipality, he sought Jinnah's help. In April 28, 1922, a case of 'misrepresentation of funds' worth Rs 1.68 lakh was registered in Ahmedabad District Court (ADC). Sardar successfully defended the case in ADC. But he was dragged to the Bombay High Court in 1923. Jinnah led a panel of lawyers and fought for Sardar Patel, winning the case.
First Gujarati typewriter
The assembly of the first Gujarati typewriter was commissioned by Sardar in 1924. For this, the Ahmedabad municipality had approached Remington company and paid it Rs 4,000 for putting together the first typewriter in the Gujarati language.
Instrumental in removing "sexual disqualification" in elections
Sardar happened to be the first to pitch for removing "sexual disqualification" in the district municipal Act.
By this Act, women were barred from contesting elections as per Section 15(1)(C). A resolution was passed in this regard in the Ahmedabad municipality general board on February 13, 1913. Sardar had argued that keeping women out of the elected body was equivalent to eliminating the representation of half of the urban population. In 1926, Section 15(1)(c) was abolished.
Construction of hospital
After seeking help from nagarsheths Vadilal Sarabhai and Chunilal Chinoy for construction of VS Hospital, Sardar wrote to the provincial government for a grant of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh in April 1927. Patel had earlier suggested that the city civil hospital should be under municipal control. But this suggestion was rejected. It was then that Vadilal Sarabhai and Chunilal Chinoy contributed for constructing a new hospital and a 21 acre plot was earmarked for it.
No name for profit
Sardar Patel was against anybody - including his close kin - using his name for profit.
Sardar was so strict about this that he had once told his son, Dahyabhai, to stay away from Delhi if possible, so long as he (Sardar) was in the national capital. "Don't misuse my name. Don't use my name for any favours in Delhi. Till I am in Delhi, stay away from it as far as you can," Sardar had written to his son.
A relevant question
In April 1947, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, then a Home member of the interim government, started his tour in Gujarat asking people to maintain calm and communal harmony. There had been a series of skirmishes.
In one meeting in Ahmedabad, Patel expressed his anxiety, "A snake grows a new skin to take place of the worn out one it sheds." Sardar further added, "We may become politically sovereign, but internally we lack the attributes of a free people, such as equality, cohesion and national character." He asked, "Has India organised a new state and society to replace the old order which she wants to discard?"
Against building statues and memorials
Sardar Patel was completely against building statues and memorials. If he were alive today, he would have opposed the state government's project under which a Rs3,000 crore sculpture of the Iron Man himself is coming up at Kevadiya near the Narmada dam. The 'Statue of Unity' will be the world's tallest structure of this kind when completed.