From the year 2014, Rashtriya Ekta Diwas or the National Unity Day is being celebrated on October 31. Every year this day celebrates the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Vallabhbhai Patel was born on October 31 in Ninad of district Kheda. And he was brought up in the countryside of the state Gujarat.
Later he became a successful lawyer, a good organizer, and an influential leader of the Indian National Congress. Sardar Ji was also a freedom fighter.
He successfully led the Satyagrahas of Kheda, Borsad, and Bardoli in Gujarat against the British Raj. Patel got appointed as the 49th President of the Indian National Congress while promoting the Quit India Movement.
Gandhi Ji gave him the title of ‘Sardar’ for his excellent organization skill in the Bardoli Satyagraha.
Initially, as a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel dreamt for the independent ‘Akhanda Bharat’ ( which means that Undivided India).
But for the ‘divide and rule’ policy of the British, ultimately, Undivided India got divided into two parts, i.e., India and Pakistan.
And on that eve of Independence, India’s sovereignty was at risk because approximately 565 self-governing princely states were going to be released from the British Bondage. At the same time, there was no idea of an entire country.
In this time, Sardar Patel Ji sensed the urgent need for the integration of the princely states. He followed an iron-handed policy and made it clear that no princely state would remain independent and in isolation within India.
It was complicated and problematic to amalgamate the princely states to reform self-governing India.
But Sardar Patel handled this crisis very efficiently and integrated the princely states with his diplomatic skills and foresightedness.
Sardarji took charge of the states department in July 1947 and appealed to the Princes’ patriotic and national sentiments and invited them to join the formation of a democratic constitution for the national interest.
He persuaded the Princes to surrender their defense, foreign affairs, and communication to India’s Government.
So, by his tactics, he succeeded in breaking the separatist Princes’ union. On August 15,1947, all 562 princely states ( except Junagarh, Hyderabad, and Kashmir) acceded to India.
After Independence, he served the country as the First Deputy Prime Minister and India’s first Home Minister.
After that, he carried the threefold process of assimilation, centralization, and verification of the states. These were amalgamated to form a union, that union merged with India’s Union.
Later, he handled the Junagarh and Hyderabad crisis with his great diplomatic tactics. He also managed to defeat the Nawab of Junagarh and the Nizam of Hyderabad.
And as a result, these two states also got amalgamated into the Union of India.
Thus, by Sardar Patel’s calculated methods, the princely states got absorbed into the Indian Union. Moreover, the solidarity of the nation got secured without any civil war.
He requested India’s people to live together by uniting (Ek Bharat) to create a foremost India (Shersth Bharat).
And for his massive contribution to unification and integration of Indian princely states into the Indian Union, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is known as the ‘Iron Man of India’ and
he is also remembered as the ‘Patron Saint of Indian Civil Servants’ as he established the modern Indian services system.
In the year 2018, the Government of India unveiled a 182 meters tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, called the ‘Statue of Unity,’ the tallest statue in the world.
It is situated on the bank of the Narmada river in the Kevadiya colony, facing the Sardar Sarovar Dam near the city Vadodara.
Now every year, Rashtriya Ekta Diwas or the National Unity Day is celebrated on October 31 through several organized events like ‘Run For Unity ‘ (a marathon race), National Unity Pledge, Ekta Parade, etc. for increasing awareness about Sardar Patel’s contributions.
But this year, for the worldwide Covid-19 outbreak, the Day was celebrated virtually by oath-taking ceremony, speeches, and webinars.
Moreover, we must perceive the hard works and sacrifices in exchange for which we have today’s United Modern India. So, at the stage and anyhow, we must keep ourselves united for the sake of ‘unity in diversity.’
Written by Dyuti Banerjee.