On the banks of Sabarmati stands the tallest statue in the world. It is dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. After the independence, he brought together numerous princely states to reform a new nation. His efforts shaped modern India geographically. This is why the statue is aptly called the Statue of Unity.
Vallabhbhai Javerbhai Patel was born to a family of landlords in Nadiad, Gujrat. He surrounded himself with books at a very young age. This habit of reading led him to become more mature and stoic than his counterparts. Many incidents from his childhood foreshadowed his iron willpower. One such famous incident is when he cauterized a boil on his armpit with red hot iron.
He completed his matriculation at the late age of 22. This led to speculations that Vallabh will end up underachieving academically.
He then went to the neighbouring city of Borsad for his law degree. Determined to prove everybody wrong, he completed the course in just two years. His fellow students further saw his determination as he borrowed books from his seniors and prepared for higher education.
He went to England for higher education. His grit and iron will again come to his rescue. Despite facing racism, Vallabh topped most of his classes. After completing his education, he came to India. He began his practice as a lawyer in the city of Godhra. In a short period, he became famous for his fearless style of advocacy.
His experiences in both India and England had sparked a hatred for colonialism. When he heard about the non-cooperation movement led by Mahatma Gandhi, he too lent his support. Soon he became a core member of the National Congress Party. During this period, he gained the title of Sardar (chief) from the women of Bardoli. He worked side by side with Gandhi at Gujarat sabha (assembly). Historians describe their relationship as brotherly.
After serving his country for over three decades, his biggest contribution was yet to come. When the East India Company finally agreed to leave, they wanted to make each princely state an independent country. Sardar Vallabh Bhai was then given the task of unifying all these states. He was already known for his determination and fearlessness. He also had the much-needed physical health for travelling throughout the country.
The task was humongous with 519 states, different languages, different cultures, and different religions. Patel, in his own words, used every way to convince these leaders to join hands.
This herculean effort of uniting India made him popularly known as the ‘Ironman of India’. He became the first deputy Prime Minister of India as well as the Minister of Home affairs. He continued serving his nation till his last breath. He passed away in 1950 while in office.
Sardar Patel was a man of vision and his willpower knew no bounds. It was willpower that made a late bloomer a top graduate. It was willpower that turned a lawyer into a freedom fighter. It was willpower that made 519 states a single nation.
Today the statue of Unity stands at a towering height of 182 meters, yet it falls short of the iron willpower of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel.