Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the “Iron Man of India”, was born on October 31st, 1875 in Nadiad, Gujarat. His father, Jhaverbhai Patel, was a farmer. Vallabhbhai’s early education was in Karamsad. A famous story about Sardar Patel’s strength takes place in his boyhood years. When he was young, Vallahbhai suffered from a boil. There was a man in his village who used to cure boils by touching them with hot iron. Vallabhbhai went to him to remove the boil that he had. The man heated the iron rod until it grew red but seeing how young Vallabhbhai was, he hesitated. Vallabhbhai fearlessly responded, “What are you waiting for? The iron will grow cold. Hurry up, brand the boil,”. Vallabhbhai picked up the glowing rod and burnt the boil. Those who watched him were shocked. But there was not a trace of pain in the boy’s face.

Sardar Patel went to England to study law and returned to India in 1915. After returning he met Gandhi and soon joined him in many issues of the day including one in which he represented workers in a dispute with mill owners in Ahmedabad in 1918. Patel had a successful law practice, but as he became more influenced by the ideas of Gandhi he gave it up and threw himself into the campaign for Indian independence. In 1931, Patel was elected President of the Indian National Congress. Gandhi vested great confidence in him through all the years of their friendship.

Gandhi’s assassination left Sardar Patel without the guidance of his political mentor and the “Father of the Nation. His memory as the “Iron Man of India”, came from his steely determination and pragmatism. Nowhere was this more apparent than when, as Home Minister and Minister of States, he took action to consolidate the Indian Union and authorized the police to merge Hyderabad into India.