National Unity Day or Rashtriya Ekta Diwas is celebrated on October 31 since 2014. The day is observed with patriotic events to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – the man who played an important role in the unification of India. He is popularly known as the “Iron Man of India”. Patel was a lifelong member of the Indian National Congress (INC) and fought against the British during India’s freedom movement. In Independent India, he became the first Deputy Prime Minister of the country.
In the months preceding and following Independence, Patel had played a crucial role in persuading over 500 princely states to accede to independent India. Despite facing several hurdles, Patel managed to integrate these regions largely without violence.
To honour his contribution to India’s independence and unity, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2014 declared that National Unity Day will be celebrated on Patel’s birth anniversary, every year.
National Unity Day 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,” MHA had said in an official statement in 2014.
On Patel’s birth anniversary in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a 182m-tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel called ‘Statue of Unity’. Tallest statue in the world, it is located on the banks of the Narmada river in Kevadia, facing the Sardar Sarovar Dam near the city of Vadodara, Gujarat.
The day is observed to ponder upon ways to maintain the nation’s unity. On this day, the government officials and civil society members also spread awareness about Patel’s contribution 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.