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The Indo British Cultural Exchange and the British Sikh Association

The Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve QC, MP (Centre) unveiling Bharat Ratna Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s commemorative plaque with H.E. Mr Ranjan Mathai (Left) and Dr. Rami Ranger MBE, FRSA (Right).

The Indo British Cultural Exchange and the British Sikh Association in partnership with the Sardar Patel Memorial Society UK, National Congress of Gujarati Organisations UK and Society of Asian Lawyers held a historic event to mark the centenary of Bharat Ratna Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s call to the Bar-at-Law on 27th January 2014 at the Middle Temple, London. A plaque was unveiled by the Chief Guest, the Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve QC, MP; the Attorney General for England and Wales, Advocate General for Northern Ireland. The momentous ceremony was presided over by H.E. Ranjan Mathai, High Commission of India to the United Kingdom. 

Over 150 prominent members of society attended the Unveiling Ceremony which included Mr. Sailesh Mehta, President, Society of Asian Lawyers; Dr. Chandra Kant Patel, author of the article in the souvenir booklet "A Homage to Sardar Patel"; Baroness Verma of Leicester, The Junior Minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change; Dr. Rami Ranger MBE, FRSA, Chairman of the British Sikh Association; Ms. Vyjayanthi Kumar, Director IBCE and the Compere of the Ceremony; Mr Sharad Parikh, President National Congress of Gujarati Organisations UK; Master Jai Diptesh Patel, City of London School for Boys; Mr Shailesh Vara, MP, Junior Minister in the Justice Ministry of the United Kingdom; Ms. Ranjanbala Patel, Chairperson of the Charotar Ladies Group Brent; Mrs. Leslie Whitelaw, Archivist at the Middle Temple; Mr. Pravin G. Patel, President of the Sardar Patel Memorial Society UK and Mr. Praful Patel, Chairman of the Indo-British Cultural Exchange. 

Ms Vyjayanti Kumar, the compere of the evening, welcomed the guests and introduced the Top Table. The introduction was followed by a garlanding ceremony of the bust of Bharat Ratna Sardar Vallabbhai Patel and members of the top table. 

Dr. Rami Ranger MBE, FRSA, Chairman of the British Sikh Association welcomed the guests by sharing the message of the British Prime minister, the Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP, “Please accept my best wishes to the British Sikh Association and the Indo British Cultural Exchange. I would like to welcome the unveiling of this commemorative plaque honouring the anniversary of Bharat Ratna Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s call to the Bar. His contribution to modern India as a barrister and statesman are very widely respected”. PM 

Dr. Ranger went on to describe the Sardar as a remarkable visionary leader who touched the life of every Indian and beyond. At the time of independence India was a fragmented country and it was the unenviable task of Sardar Patel to make the case for a united democratic India where all would be equal, with one person, one vote in order to make their destiny. He was the architect of modern and united India as we see it today. 

The Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve QC, MP then unveiled the commemorative plaque to an audience that had been waiting in anticipation. He spoke in admiration of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel coming from a humble background and how through his hard work he transformed himself into a successful lawyer and statesman. He excelled in his exams at Middle Temple and gained entry to the Bar. The Attorney General added that the plaque would remind future generations of students and people alike of the remarkable life of Bharat Ratna Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. 

Baroness Verma of Leicester unveiled the brochure that had been specially printed for release on the evening. This contained archival documents of the work of Sardar Patel and were possible thanks to the courtesy of the Middle Temple’s archivist, Ms Lesley Whitelaw. 

H.E. Mr Ranjan Mathai spoke of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as being a man of self-discipline, with clarity of mind and determination. He was rightly called the Iron Man of India. He praised the Sardar for his vision and determination to unite India within a matter of months. HE narrated some interesting facts about Sardar Patel - how he walked every day from his flat in Bayswater to Middle Temple and how he gave his savings to his brother so that he could travel to the UK for his Bar. The High Commissioner thanked the organisers for their hard work in organising such an historic event. 

Master Jay Patel, 13 years old and from the London School of Boys spoke about the legacy of Sardar Patel, what he represented and how he personally became inspired by him. He added that schools should teach more about Sardar Patel to ensure the legacy of such an amazing mind was not forgotten. 

Mr. Praful Patel, Chairman of the Indo-British Cultural Exchange closed the formal part of the evening by presenting mementos of the event to all dignitaries present. In his vote of thanks he thanked all those present, partner organisations, contributors and volunteers who made such a historic event possible. He also announced that a Sardar Patel Scholarship would be launched to enable students from India and the UK to study at Middle Temple. The formal part of the evening was followed by delicious Indian food.

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