Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was one of the tallest leaders of the Indian freedom movement. Popularly known as the “Iron Man of India”, Patel played a crucial role in the incorporation of 562 princely states into the Indian union, thereby blocking splitting of a country into miniature nations after India gained independence.

  After the withdrawal of the British in 1947 and with the declaration of the Indian Independence Act 1947, the long-cherished dream of freedom was finally at the doorstep. But there were massive obstacles lay ahead.

  India was born in very difficult circumstances. Freedom came with the partition of the country. The Indian Independence Act of 1947 gave princely states an option to accede to the newly born dominions India or Pakistan or continue as an independent sovereign state.

  There were 17 British Indian provinces, and the 562 Princely States–comprising about two fifths of the geographic....

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