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Rashtriya Ekta Diwas – National Unity Day

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By: Kakchingtabam Ruhinikumar Sharma

The year 2021 marks the 146th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who was the first Home Minister of independent India and played a crucial role in the integration of princely states into the Union of India.
The National Day of Unity or Rashtriya Ekta Diwas is observed annually on 31st October to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel also known as the ‘Iron man of India’. As the name suggests, National Unity Day is marked to create awareness about the contribution of Sardar Patel to the making of modern India and honour his legacy.
The commemoration of Sardar Patel’s birthday as National Unity Day was commenced in the year 2014, since it would serve as a “reminder of the strength” of the country as well as highlight the resilience of the Indian state against the dangers posed against its “security, unity, and integrity” said in a communiqué issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
A colossal 182-metre tall statue of the leading freedom fighter, the tallest in the world was unveiled in 2018 near Vadodara, Gujarat, on the banks of the Narmada river to perpetuate memory of the Iron Man of India.
What is the Legacy of Sardar Patel?
Like many of the stalwarts of freedom movement, Sardar Patel, too was a staunch adversary of the British and had joined the freedom struggle to help India gain independence from its colonial yoke. After the independence of India in 1947, he became the first home minister of the country. He was the chief architect of the integration of the princely states. He drafted an instrument of accession, along with VP Menon, for the rulers of the 562 princely states to sign and join the Indian Union. Some of the native or princely states which resisted joining India such as Hyderabad, Junagadh and Jodhpur, was accomplished by employing a combination of coercion, military force and political skill to integrate them into the Union of India. Manipur also became a part of India after the signing of a merger agreement on 21st September, 1949 which have been described as coercive by many.
Among the programmes associated with national Unity Day include among others -Run for Unity and Ekta Parade along with taking of RASHTRIYA EKTA DIWAS PLEDGE which run as “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 internal security of my country”.
It should be our endeavour to see that the idea of India’s Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan is turned into reality as a fitting tribute to Sardar Patel who championed the cause of a strong, united and able India that is Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat.
(The writer is a teacher of History at the Ideal Girls’ College, Akampat)

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