INDIAN FESTIVALS : The Ironman of India: Sardar Patel:
The Winning and Consolidation of Freedom
By Late S. Ramakrishnan
Sardar Patel
He was the Mahatma’s no-nonsense lieutenant and his “executive arm.”

Mahatma Gandhi gave the nation comprehensive inspirational leadership and the technique of “war without violence”—Satyagraha with Trimoola-Mantras, three Cardinal Foundational inviolable tenets—Satya (Truth), Tyaga (Sacrifice) and Seva (Service) as the watchwords. Tens of thousands, young and the not so young, all over the country joined India’s Pilgrimage to Freedom. They gave up their promising careers and cheerfully faced lathi blows, imprisonment and even the gallows.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is one of the most distinguished among them. He was the Mahatma’s no-nonsense lieutenant and his “executive arm.”
He was a man of iron discipline and his forte was action. He subjugated all emotions and sentiments to the demands of reason and pragmatic idealism. “Sardar was to Gandhiji what Lakshmana was to Sri Rama,” averred Rajaji, the first among the astute of modern Indian leaders. According to Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, the eminent historian of India’s freedom movement and a former President of the Indian National Congress “If Gandhiji was the Christ, Sardar was John the Baptist” of Nationalist India.

Prophetic Vision

The Sardar’s prophetic vision is seen clearly in his perception of the Chinese threat from across the border when the cry throughout India was “Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai”. In a letter to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister, the Sardar wrote on Nov.7, 1950.
“Throughout history we have seldom been worried about our North-East Frontier. The Himalayas have been regarded as an impenetrable barrier against any threat from the north. In our calculations we shall have to reckon with Communist China in the North and North-East, a Communist China which has definite ambitions and aims and which does not, in any way, seem friendly disposed towards us.” Jawaharlal Nehru wrote a note on China and Tibet that touched on some of the Sardar’s points and sent a copy of Sardar. He wrote:

“I think it is extremely unlikely that we may have to face any real military invasion from the Chinese side. It is inconceivable that China should divert its forces and its strength across the inhospitable terrain of Tibet and undertake a wild adventure across the Himalayas. Thus I rule out any major attack on India by China.”
The attack on India by China that Sardar feared and Jawaharlal had ruled out took place twelve years thereafter.
Simplicity of Sardar

The indomitable Sardar who decided the fate of hundreds of princes, many of them fabulously rich, and habituated to lavish living and giving, was so utterly unconcerned about accumulating any money for himself or his family. When he died, he left virtually nothing, not even a will. Like his Guru, the only “personal property” he left behind was a few pieces of clothes, one or two pairs of chappals and other minor personal effects.

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