Today is a day belonging to two stalwarts of the Indian politics as well as the Indian history. Today, the Iron Man of India – Sardaar Vallabhbhai Patel was born and today only is the sacrificing day of Mrs. Indira Gandhi who can justifiably be referred to as the Iron Lady of India.
Vallabhbhai Patel was born on 31.10.1875 at Nadiad in Gujarat in a farmer’s house and destiny led him to become a barrister, getting his degree of law from England. He was very much impressed by the Champaaran Satyagraha of Mahatma Gandhi in 1917 and he applied the same strategy and spiritual tools to get better of the mighty and oppressive British rule in Kheda (1918) and Bardoli (1928) while raising the voice of the underdog Indians for the cause of justice in both the cases. Emerging victorious in both the struggles, he became a national hero and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. The Bardoli Satyagraha for the cause of the peasants, brought the title of ‘Sardaar‘ to him.
His final hour of glory came when the British freed India (albeit after partitioning it) on 15.08.1947, giving all the princely states a choice to amalgamate with the Indian Union or remain independent. Vallabhbhai Patel, being the first home minister of independent India, demonstrated why he was called ‘Sardaar’ and why he deserved to be known as the Iron Man of India. Before his sad demise on 15.12.1950, he forced all the 562 princely states to join the Indian Union and gave this nation the united shape it deserved and needed to grow. It was a Herculian task and the troubles faced in bringing Junagarh, Hyderabad and Kashmir to the Indian Union could be handled by a person like him only who, in the words of Vivekananda, had muscles of Iron and nerves of steel. India owes her true son a lot this way.
Today is the sacrificing day of Mrs. Indira Gandhi too who was once called the only MARD (male) in the Union Cabinet of India. Born at Allahabad on 19.11.1917, she participated wholeheartedly in the Indian freedom struggle, making her own Vaanar Sena (army of monkeys, say children) and showed signs of leadership qualities in her childhood itself. This daughter of Kamala and Jawaharlal Nehru became the Indian Information and Broadcasting minister in the Union Cabinet headed by Lal Bahadur Shastri and after his demise, she became the prime minister of India. At the time, a so-called syndicate was active in the congress party who thought that this ‘dumb doll’ will dance to its tune. But that ‘dumb doll’ soon made the seniors of the party dance to her tune. She turned the tables on her opponents in the party, split it without fear and went ahead to win the war against Pakistan as well as the general elections in 1971 convincingly. After the victory in the war, her political opponent – Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee compared her to Goddess Durga.
Mrs. Gandhi’s foreign policy was no better than that of her Late father and she committed many significant errors in her political career after making it to the apex political office in India. However her patriotism was beyond any doubt and she was the most able political leader in the country at the time of her getting sacrificed in the hands of her bodyguards on 31.10.1984. I was studying in Higher Secondary at that time. And in the paper of Hindi in the examination (a Board level examination) in 1985, I got the option of writing an essay on the topic – BHAARTEEYA ITIHAAS KI AVISMARNEEYA GHATNA – 31 OCTOBER, 1984 (an unforgettable event of the Indian history – 31st October, 1984). I remember writing a highly emotional essay on that topic in the examination. Despite her political blunders (the worst being the imposition of internal emergency in 1975), she was definitely a very strong lady, an amazon. Nothing could scare her and nothing could stop her from implementing a decision once taken by her in her mind.
On this very very significant historical day, I salute both these great leaders of India and pray to the Almighty that the Indian youths may get the similar kind of inner strength and strong willpower to use in the interest of not only their own lives but also in the interest of their nation and finally, the mankind.
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