India’s first home minister, Vallabhbhai Patel, was affectionately called “Sardar” (chief) due to his exceptional leadership skills that played a pivotal role in guiding the nation through its struggle for independence and post-independence challenges. One of his most remarkable achievements was the integration of the princely states into the newly independent India, a feat that earned him the title “Iron Man of India.” To commemorate his legacy and contributions, the Government of India declared his birth anniversary on October 31 as National Unity Day or Rashtriya Ekta Diwas.
National Unity Day, celebrated on October 31, is a momentous occasion that pays homage to the indomitable spirit of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and his unparalleled contributions to India’s unity and integrity. It is a day to remember his leadership, his tireless efforts in the integration of princely states, and his unwavering commitment to national unity, values that continue to inspire the nation.
The Historical Significance
In 2014, the Government of India made an official declaration to celebrate National Unity Day on October 31. This significant occasion serves as an opportunity to reaffirm the inherent strength and resilience of the nation, demonstrating its capacity to withstand both actual and potential threats to its unity, integrity, and security. Sardar Patel’s role in India’s history, particularly during the integration of princely states and the India-Pakistan War of 1947, is especially noteworthy.
The Iron Man of India:
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was a pivotal figure in India’s journey to independence and beyond. His remarkable leadership skills earned him the title “Sardar,” and he is most celebrated for his role in integrating the princely states into the Union of India after the British relinquished their suzerainty. Patel’s persuasive abilities led to nearly all of the 565 self-governing princely states acceding to the Union of India. His unwavering commitment to national integration and unity earned him the distinguished title of the “Iron Man of India.”
The Significance of National Unity Day:
October 31 is celebrated as National Unity Day in India to honor the legacy of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. This day serves as a tribute to the veteran freedom fighter for his pivotal role in persuading numerous princely states to unite with the newly independent India. The celebration of National Unity Day is a manifestation of gratitude for Patel’s tireless efforts in forging the unity of India.
Observance of Rashtriya Ekta Diwas:
As part of the official order, all government offices, public sector undertakings (PSUs), and public institutions are required to organize a pledge-taking ceremony on October 31 in observance of Rashtriya Ekta Diwas. This ceremony is a symbolic gesture of commitment to the principles of unity and integrity that Sardar Patel stood for.
Inspiring the Youth:
The Ministry of Human Resource Development encourages schools and colleges to administer the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas pledge to students. This initiative aims to inspire the younger generation to actively contribute to the preservation of India’s unity and integrity, following in the footsteps of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.