National Unity Day is celebrated in India on 31 October. It was introduced by the Government of India in 2014. The day is celebrated to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who had a major role in the political integration of India.
Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel (31st October 1875 – 15th December 1950), endeared as Sardar, was an Indian statesman. He served as the first Deputy Prime Minister of India from 1947 to 1950. He was an Indian barrister and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress who played a leading role in the country’s struggle for independence and guided its integration into a united, independent nation. He was one of the conservative members of the Indian National Congress. In India and elsewhere, he was often called Sardar, meaning “chief” in Hindi, Urdu, and Persian. He acted as Home Minister during the political integration of India and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.
As the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India, Patel organised relief efforts for partition refugees fleeing to Punjab and Delhi from Pakistan and worked to restore peace. He led the task of forging a united India, successfully integrating into the newly independent nation those British colonial provinces that formed the Dominion of India. Besides those provinces that had been under direct British rule, approximately 565 self-governing princely states had been released from British suzerainty by the Indian Independence Act of 1947. Patel persuaded almost every princely state to accede to India.
- His commitment to national integration in the newly independent country was total and uncompromising, earning him the sobriquet “Iron Man of India”.
- He is also remembered as the “Patron saint of India’s civil servants” for having established the modern All India Services system.
- He is also called the “Unifier of India”.
Father of All India Services
He was also instrumental in the creation of the All India Services which he described as the country’s “Steel Frame”. In his address to the probationers of these services, he asked them to be guided by the spirit of service in day-to-day administration. He reminded them that the ICS was no-longer neither Imperial, nor civil, nor imbued with any spirit of service after Independence. His exhortation to the probationers to maintain utmost impartiality and incorruptibility of administration is as relevant today as it was then. “A civil servant cannot afford to, and must not, take part in politics. Nor must he involve himself in communal wrangles. To depart from the path of rectitude in either of these respects is to debase public service and to lower its dignity,” he had cautioned them on 21 April 1947. He, more than anyone else in post-independence India, realized the crucial role that civil services play in administering a country, in not merely maintaining law and order, but running the institutions that provide the binding cement to a society.The present-day all-India administrative services owe their origin to the man’s sagacity and thus he is regarded as Father of modern All India Services.
There is no alternative to this administrative system… The Union will go, you will not have a united India if you do not have good All-India Service which has the independence to speak out its mind, which has sense of security that you will standby your work… If you do not adopt this course, then do not follow the present Constitution. Substitute something else… these people are the instrument. Remove them and I see nothing but a picture of chaos all over the country.Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
In his twilight years, Patel was honoured by members of Parliament. He was awarded honorary doctorates of law by Nagpur University, the University of Allahabad and Banaras Hindu University in November 1948, subsequently receiving honorary doctorates from Osmania University in February 1949 and from Punjab University in March 1949. Previously, Patel had been featured on the cover page of the January 1947 issue of Time magazine.
After suffering a massive heart attack (his second), Patel died on 15 December 1950 at Birla House in Bombay. In an unprecedented and unrepeated gesture, on the day after his death more than 1,500 officers of India’s civil and police services congregated to mourn at Patel’s residence in Delhi and pledged “complete loyalty and unremitting zeal” in India’s service. In homage to Patel, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru declared a week of national mourning. Patel’s cremation was planned at Girgaum Chowpatty, but this was changed to Sonapur (now Marine Lines) when his daughter conveyed that it was his wish to be cremated like a common man in the same place as his wife and brother were earlier cremated. His cremation in Sonapur in Bombay was attended by a crowd of one million including Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajagopalachari and President Rajendra Prasad.
Statue of Unity
The Statue of Unity is a colossal statue of Indian statesman and Independence activist Vallabhbhai Patel. Patel was highly respected for his leadership in uniting 562 princely states of India with a major part of the former British Raj to form the single Union of India. The Statue of Unity is the world’s tallest statue, with a height of 182 metres (597 feet). It is located in the state of Gujarat, India, on the Narmada River in the Kevadiya colony, facing the Sardar Sarovar Dam 100 kilometres (62 mi) southeast of the city of Vadodara and 150 kilometres (93 mi) from the city of Surat. Kevadia railway station is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the statue. The project was first announced in 2010, and construction of the statue started in October 2013 by Indian company Larsen & Toubro, with a total construction cost of 2700 crore (27 billion; US$422 million). It was designed by Indian sculptor Ram V. Sutar and was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 31 October 2018, the 143rd anniversary of Patel’s birth.
Patel was a selfless leader, who placed the country’s interests above everything else and shaped India’s destiny with single-minded devotion. The invaluable contribution of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in building a modern and unified India needs to be remembered by every Indian as the country marches ahead as one of the largest economies in the world. His enduring fame rests on his achievement of the peaceful integration of the princely Indian states into the Indian Union and the Political unification of India.