National Unity Day or Rashtriya Ekta Divas is celebrated on October 31 since 2014. The day falls on the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – the man because of whom we have a unified India instead of a patchy India.
Why is National Unity Day celebrated?
The day is celebrated to mark Sardar Patel who was referred to as ‘Iron Man of India’ crucial role in persuading over 500 princely states to join India. He was associated with the Indian National Congress and was the first Deputy Prime Minister of India.
On the same day in 2018, PM Narendra Modi unveiled the world’s tallest statue (182m) of Sardar Patel which is referred to as ‘Statue of Unity’. It is located on the banks of the Narmada River near Sardar Sarovar Dam, Gujarat.
The day is seen to consider ways of keeping up with the country’s unity. On this day, the public authorities and civil society individuals likewise spread mindfulness about Patel’s commitment to Indian history.
Patriotic programmes in schools, colleges and workplaces are organised across the country in celebration of the day. Employees working in state and central government offices also pledge to preserve the unity, integrity and security of the nation.
President pays homage to the ‘Iron Man of India’
First Citizen of India, Ram Nath Kovind paid homage to Sardar Patel on his birth anniversary at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The officials of Rashtrapati Bhavan paid floral tributes to a portrait of Patel. The President also visited Sardar Patel Chowk in New Delhi.
PM addresses the nation on ‘Rashtriya Ekta Divas’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually addressed the nation on Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary, said that the country has got freedom from age-old laws in the last seven years.
Modi said, “In the last seven years, the country has got freedom from all the decades-old hereditary laws. It has led to uniting India. Be it Jammu and Kashmir, the North East or a village in the Himalayas, every part of the country is heading towards development today. However, we must always remember that the passengers of a boat have to take care of the boat as well.”
Talking about Patel’s ideals, Modi said, “Sardar Sahab would see India as a living entity. That is why his idea of one India meant equal opportunities and a right to dream alike for the people. As such, we need to build a nation where women should have equal opportunities, the Dalits, underprivileged, tribals and every citizen of the country should feel equal.
He added, “There should be no discrimination in facilities like electricity and water. This is what India is doing today. India is not only a geographical entity but a country full of ideals, culture and concepts — the land where more than 130 crore people live.”
As the farmers’ protest carry on, Modi said, “Our co-operative organisations, too, strengthen our small farmers. The more we focus on small farmers and come out to help them grow, the more we’ll be able to win their trust.”
Home Minister presides over a parade at Statue of Unity
The celebrations at the Statue of Unity were headed by Union Home Minister, Amit Shah. An ‘Ekta Parade’ was organised that included police jawans and personnel from the Border Security Force, ITBP, CISF and CRPF from across the country.
While farmers protest is ongoing, Union Home Minister said, “It was Sardar Sahab who strengthened the voice of farmers and laid the foundation of cooperation in the country during the Independence movement. He also stressed the contribution of every citizen towards the country’s development.”
“This ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ year is also a year for us to pledge. Imagine, a small child takes a pledge that he will not waste food, that will benefit the country in a big way. These pledges will be effective in taking the country forward,” Amit Shah added.
He said, “Kevadia has turned into a site of national solidarity and unity. The statue of Sardar Patel sends out a message to the entire world that India’s future is bright and no one can break the unity of the country.”
He also said that there were attempts made by many to wash away his contributions, the Union Home Minister said that the present government has stopped such efforts and has conferred the Bharat Ratna and built a statue as a sign of respect towards him.
He added, “PM Modi has dedicated these 7 years to the 60 crore poor people of India. For 70 years since Independence, they never found themselves at the centre of development. But now, things have changed. They have electricity, toilets, gas cylinders, drinking water and health cards.”
Several sportspersons who have won medals at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games were part of the celebrations. Two school bands, St Mary’s School in Naroda, Ahmedabad, and St Xavier’s School in Jamnagar, also participated in the parade.
A dance group from Ganjam in Odisha presented an act depicting the Independence struggle.
Congress Leaders pays tribute to the Iron Man of India
Congress Leader, Rahul Gandhi paid tribute to Sardar Patel and said that at a time when all the pillars of democracy are being “weakened”, it is important to remember Patel’s contribution.
“Today, when all the pillars of our democracy are being weakened, we have to remember the contribution of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He was also an important voice among the Congress leaders who built these pillars,” Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra remembered Patel’s contribution to the cause of farmers and said, “his struggle inspires us to stand like a rock in the fight for justice against the oppression of the farmers”.
Run for Unity
Gujarat National Law University at Gandhinagar organised a 6km long unity race on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel. A blind student studying LLM also completed the unity race.
The employees and students alike participated in this race and swore together before the race that he would dedicate himself to maintaining the unity, integrity and security of the nation, vowing with sincerity to contribute to ensuring the internal security of the country.
The run was organised to maintain the spirit of brotherhood among the citizens and inculcate the sacraments in the new generation to maintain the security, national unity and integrity of the country.