Rashtriya Ekta Diwas or National Unity Day is celebrated annually on October 31 to pay tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, an Indian freedom fighter and independent India’s first deputy prime minister and home minister. He was instrumental in making a united India from the 565 semi-autonomous princely states and British-era colonial provinces. For his efforts towards a united India, Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary is now celebrated as National Unity Day in the country. People mark the day with activities such as runs for unity. On this day, locals are encouraged to remember the inherent strength and resilience of the nation.
History of National Unity Day (Rashtriya Ekta Diwas)
The Iron Man of India, also known as the Loh Purush, Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel was born on October 31, 1875. He is also popularly known as Sardar Patel and was one of the most known Indian politicians after Independence when the British withdrew from the deeply divided country. Under Jawarharlal Nehru’s term as Prime Minister, Sardar Patel served as the First Deputy Prime Minister of India.
Sardar Patel is most popularly known as a founding father of the Republic of India. This is because he played a significant role in integrating the independent provinces into a unified India just after the partition of India and Pakistan. He also acted as Home Minister during the political integration of India and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.
In 2014, Rashtriya Ekta Diwas or National Unity Day was introduced by the government of India. The official statement for Rashtriya Ekta Diwas was provided by the home ministry of the country. It cites that the National Unity Day “will provide an opportunity to re-affirm the inherent strength and resilience of our nation to withstand the actual and potential threats to the unity, integrity and security of our country.”
For his efforts towards a united India, Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary is now celebrated as National Unity Day. This is also known as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas. To celebrate the day, the ‘Unifier of India’ was honored with the Statue of Unity which is actually the world’s tallest statue! Dedicated to Sardar Patel, the statue is approximately 597 feet in height. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi inaugurated the event on October 31, 2018.
On October 31, 2019, an event called ‘Run for Unity’ was also held to spread awareness about Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s contribution to Indian history. To commemorate his 144th birth anniversary, thousands of people participated in the run which began from the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in Delhi. The almost one-mile run took place at the India Gate C-Hexagon-Shah Jahan Road. Today, Rashtriya Ekta Diwas is remembered as the unsung efforts of the ‘Iron Man’, who shaped the country and the idea of Hindus and Muslims residing in the same country together.
National Unity Day (Rashtriya Ekta Diwas) timeline
Sardar Patel is born on October 31, 1875, later becoming popularly known as a founding father of the Republic of India.
National Unity Day is introduced, the government of India citing the day “will provide an opportunity to re-affirm the inherent strength and resilience of our nation to withstand the actual and potential threats to the unity, integrity, and security of our country.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicates a massive 597-foot statue to Sardar Patel as the ‘Unifier of India,’ making it the world’s tallest statue situated in Gujarat, India.
To commemorate Sardar Patel’s contribution to history, thousands of people participated in an almost one-mile run on his 144th birth anniversary.
National Unity Day (Rashtriya Ekta Diwas) FAQs
Why is National Unity Day celebrated in India?
Since 2014, every year on 31 October ‘Rashtriya Ekta Diwas’ or the National Unity Day is observed to pay tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – an Indian politician who played a pivotal role in India’s freedom struggle and then during the integration of the country.
Who is called Iron Man in India?
Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel (31 October 1875 – 15 December 1950), popularly known as Sardar Patel, was an Indian politician who was given the nickname of Iron Man in India. This is because Patel persuaded almost every princely state to accede to India. His commitment to national integration in the newly independent country was total and uncompromising.
How is National Unity Day celebrated?
An event called ‘Run for Unity’ is held to spread awareness about Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s contribution to Indian history. In 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah flagged off the run to commemorate the 144th birth anniversary of Vallabhbhai Patel in the national capital.
National Unity Day (Rashtriya Ekta Diwas) Activities
Run for unity
Since 2019, thousands of people ran for unity in honor of Sardar Patel and his vision for a unified India. If you can’t make it to a run in the city, gather friends and family to go for a jog near your street. Even if you’re Indian living overseas, it’s the perfect time to not only get some exercise but to gather people of all different religions and cultural beliefs and run in unity. The essence of the run is the message.
Read up on the history of India
India has a rich and interesting history which is important to have at least some knowledge about. India’s Independence in 1947 was a vital point in the world’s history, as the British officially left. Not only this, when the British withdrew, India was partitioned into two independent countries - India and Pakistan. The time was both a proud and also challenging time for Indians, which caused deep divides between people and families. Make sure to brush up on some important historical facts.
If you’re Indian, invite friends or family over and celebrate all there is to love about India. If you’re not Indian and have Indian friends, perhaps today is a great time to wish them well on the day and spread a message about the meaning of unity and patriotism.
5 Interesting Facts About Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
A leader in India
Sardar Patel was the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India.
The ‘Iron Man’ wasn’t actually interested in politics initially and it was only after meeting Gandhi in 1917 that he was motivated to quit his job and join the Independence struggle.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel advocated Swaraj or self-rule and organized peasants in Gujarat in non-violent civil disobedience against the British.
For the rights of minorities
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel worked extensively for the rights of minorities and women, and against untouchability and caste discrimination.
A love so deep
His wife Jhaverba passed away when he was only 33 years old, but he loved her so deeply he never remarried.
Why We Love National Unity Day
It’s a reminder of true vision
A true visionary, Sardar Patel is credited for the unification of India post-independence. India is more unified today because of his vision, despite the colonial rulers’ wish that it is to be disintegrated into smaller states after Independence. We can all take inspiration from a leader with a sincere and dedicated vision for his country.
We are inspired by the importance of unity
Rashtriya Ekta Diwas is all about unifying the people of India. But, we can all get inspired by Sardar Patel’s drive to remove distinctions between us as human beings. In fact, one of Sardar Patel’s most popular quotes mentions this. He said, “We have to shed mutual bickering, shed the difference of being high or low and develop the sense of equality and banish untouchability.”
The way of non-violent disobedience
Like many great leaders who believed in non-violence as a way to stand up against the oppressors, Sardar Patel also maintained this notion during the Independence struggle and beyond. He believed that ‘non-violence has to be observed in thought, word and deed’ and the ‘measure of non-violence is the measure of success.’ That’s a leader which any person can be inspired by.
National Unity Day (Rashtriya Ekta Diwas) dates