Every year since 2014, India celebrates 31st October as ‘National Unity Day’ or ‘Rashtriya Ekta Diwas’. The reason behind this celebration is that the day is the birth anniversary of the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is not only one of the greatest leaders who played a major role in freeing India from British Rule, but is the key person behind uniting the hundreds of the princely states post-independence to form single ‘Republic of India’.

In 2014, the Government of India declared that the day will be celebrated as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas or National Unity Day to pay tribute to the legend & commemorate his birth anniversary.

In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the inauguration of the day by paying tribute to the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s statue. He also flagged off a programme called ‘Run for Unity’ in New Delhi. The aim behind the run was to spread awareness about Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s contribution to uniting India as a country.

Rashtriya Ekta Diwas: Celebration

As told by the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, a series of special events will be organised across the country on 31st October 2019 to commemorate the celebration of the day. He has personally written to all the states and Union Territories to celebrate Rashtriya Ekta Diwas with enthusiasm and fervour on the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as well as the dilution of Article 370 of the Constitution which constitutionally discriminated J&K from Indian Unity.

Why 2019 is Special?

The year 2019’s National Unity Day is special because, from today onwards, Jammu & Kashmir & Ladakh have now become a National Union Territory and are now an integral part of India. It was always Sardar Patel’s dream to unite India including the state of Jammu & Kashmir, the disputed princely state between India and Pakistan. Although Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which gave special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir was abrogated on 5th August 2019 after the announcement was made by Amit Shah in the parliament and the same being approved and signed by the President of India. However, the law which makes the state of Jammu & Kashmir & Ladakh as the union territory is effective from 31st October 2019 onwards.

The Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel gave an ‘At Home’ on April 20, 1948, to meet the Rulers of Central India who were in New Delhi in connection with the formation of the Malwa Union. The host is here seen with H.H. The Maharaja of Kashmir.

To mark the occasion, a special parade at Kevadiya in Gujarat will be organized which happens to be the site of the Statue of Unity (Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel’s Statue) will be organized. The security forces of each State and Union Territory including Police forces and Central Armed Forces will participate in the Parade where all district administration will organise a ‘Run for Unity’.

Apart from this, Patel Sahab’s portrait with an inscription “No one would be permitted to damage the security, unity, and integrity of India” will be displayed in all police stations and police offices to inspire the people and foster the idea of unity.

This will be followed by a pledge taking ceremony where a pledge will be required to read out at State and Central government offices of the UTs.

The Pledge is “I solemnly pledge that I dedicate myself to preserve the unity, integrity and security of the nation and also strive hard to spread this message among my fellow countrymen. I take this pledge in the spirit of unification of my country which was made possible by the vision and actions of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. I also solemnly resolve to make my contribution to ensure the internal security of my country.”

Last Year, in 2018 the day was celebrated in Gujarat with the dedication of the Statue of Unity, which honours and depicts Patel. It is the largest statue in existence on earth which is 182m in height. 

Sardar Patel Unity Award

Apart from motivating people through parades, pledges and inscription, the government of India has devised a new award to praise the efforts of those working to unify India always. The ‘Sardar Patel Unity Award’ has been instituted from today 31st October 2019 onwards and the centre has asked State and Union Territories to nominate civilians who are working towards national unity and integrity.

Who was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel: A Brief Timeline

On the occasion of his birthday and to celebrate his efforts in unifying India, let us read some of the most amazing facts about the life of the ‘Iron Man of India’ Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel:

– Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was born on 31 October 1875 at Nadiad, Gujarat, India and his full name is Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel.

– He completed his primary education at Karamasad and high school at Petlad and got married at the age of 16, matriculated at 22. After that, he passed district pleader’s examination and then started practising law.

– In the 1900s, he set up an independent office of district leader in Godhra to continue his practice. Further, in August 1910, Vallabhbhai went to London for further studies.

– In 1913, he returned to India after completing his studies and settled in Ahmadabad. He became a barrister in criminal law at the Ahmadabad bar council.

– In British India, he served as the first Indian municipal commissioner of Ahmadabad from 1917 to 1924 and got elected as a municipal president for 1924 to 1928.

– In 1918, Sardar Sahab made his first mark by initiating a mass campaign of peasants, farmers, and landowners of Kaira, Gujarat, by going against the decision of the Bombay government as the government wanted to collect full annual taxes despite crop failures due to heavy rains.

– In 1928, he successfully led the Bardoli campaign and earned the title Sardar, which translates to “leader” in Hindi.

-In the year 1929, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became the second candidate after Mahatma Gandhi to the presidency of the year’s Lahore session of the Indian National Congress. In 1931, he presided the Karachi session of the Indian National Congress.

– After Indian attained independence in 1947, he served the first three years as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Information and Minister of States of the Republic of India.

Sardar Vallabbhai always thrived and worked to deter the ideology separatism and foster unity all over India. He is the man behind creating Ek Bharat or Shreshth Bharat or Foremost India. He requested people of India and the owners/kings of the princely states to live together. Being the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, he played an important role in the integration of many Indian princely states to make an Indian federation. He died on 15 December 1950 at Bombay.