National Unity Day or Rashtriya Ekta Diwas is observed on October 31 every year in India. The day marks the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. At the time of independence, Patel played a key role in convincing several princely states to align with the Indian Union. The day celebrates Patel’s efforts and contributions to the country.
All about Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel:
- Vallabhbhai Patel was born in Nadiad, Gujarat, on October 31, 1875.
- His childhood was spent away from books, in the ancestral fields at Karamsad. He was already in his late teens when he passed out from the Middle School at Karamsad and went to the High School at Nadiad, from where he matriculated in 1897.
- Vallabhbhai must have inherited these attributes from his father who, it is said, had fought in the Mutiny under the Rani of Jhansi and was subsequently taken prisoner by Malhar Rao Holkar.
- Patel practised law at Godhra, Borsad, and Anand in Gujarat, after passing the bar examination. He earned the reputation of being a fierce and skilled lawyer.
- However, an attack of plague, which he contracted while nursing a friend, made him leave the town and after spending some time in Nadiad, he moved on to Borsad in 1902, a town in the Kheda district where at that time the largest number of criminal cases in Gujarat were recorded.
- In 1911, at the age of 36, two years after the death of his wife, Vallabhbhai Patel journeyed to England and enrolled at the Middle Temple Inn in London. Patel finished at the top of his class despite having had no previous college background. He completed the 36-month course in 30 months.
- Returning to India, Patel settled in Ahmedabad and became one of the city’s most successful barristers.
- On Gandhi’s call, Patel quit his hard-earned job and joined the movement to fight for exemption of taxes in Kheda at the time of plague and famine (1918).
- Patel joined Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement (1920) and travelled around West India to recruit 3,00,000 members. He also collected more than Rs 1.5 million for the party fund.
- In 1930, the British arrested Sardar Patel during the Salt Satyagraha and put him on trial without witnesses.
- During Quit India Movement (1942), the British arrested Patel. He was imprisoned with the entire Congress Working Committee from 1942 to 1945 at the fort in Ahmednagar.
- After Independence, he became India’s first Deputy Prime Minister. On the first anniversary of Independence, Patel was appointed as the Home Minister of India. He was also in charge of the States Department and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
- The invaluable services of Sardar Patel were available to independent India for just 3 years. The Ironman of India died on 15 December 1950 (aged 75), after suffering a massive heart attack.