National Unity Day: As India pays tributes to Sardar Patel, know the history
India is celebrating October 31 as National Unity Day to pay tributes to veteran freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who was also the country's first home minister whose contribution in convincing many of the princely states to join the Union of India after Independence remains especially notable. As the country remains grateful for Patel's crucial efforts leading to the integration of India, the day is celebrated as a homage to that “national unity”. The government in 2014 declared that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's birth anniversary on October 31 will be celebrated as National Unity Day or Rashtriya Ekta Diwas.
Declaring in 2014 that India will henceforth celebrate National Unity Day on October 31, the central government said in an official statement that this occasion “will provide an opportunity to reaffirm the inherent strength and resilience of our nation to withstand the actual and potential threats to the unity, integrity, and security of our country.”
Vallabhbhai Patel was dubbed “Sardar” (chief) for his leadership skills in leading the country through the struggle for independence and beyond, and most notably during the integration of the princely states and the India-Pakistan War of 1947.
Sardar Patel achieved the incredible feat of persuading almost every single one of the 565 self-governing princely states, that had been released from British suzerainty, to accede to the Union of India. For his commitment to the national integration of the newly independent country, Sardar Patel earned the sobriquet “Iron Man of India”.
On National Unity Day, a pledge is read out in government offices:
“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 own contribution to ensure the internal security of my country.”
By official order, all government offices, public sector undertakings (PSUs), and other public institutions are required to arrange the pledge-taking ceremony on October 31 to observe the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas.
The ministry of human resource development has also issued instructions to allow students of schools and colleges to be administered the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas pledge to motivate them to strive to maintain the unity and integrity of the country.