The birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, October 31, is celebrated as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day). The celebration of Ekta Diwas was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. The Ministry of Home Affairs had noted in their official press release announcing the observance of Rashtriya Ekta Diwas that the “occasion 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.”
Often referred to as the “Bismack of India”, Patel’s name is noted in the pages of Indian history for being the man who cajoled and convinced a large number of princely states to join the Indian Union. Ekta diwas is an attempt by the government to celebrate Patel’s efforts in unifying India.
Patel was made the minister in charge of the state’s department on June 27, 1947. Noted for his administrative pragmatism, Patel was deemed to be perfect for the job of persuading the states. As his secretary, he chose the ferociously intelligent, VP Menon who would go on to do the groundwork of traveling to the various courts and holding one-to-one negotiations with the rulers. The final touch was then given by the then Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, who had been particularly approached by Patel, Nehru and Gandhi to aid them in the process of unification and not leave India in a state of Balkanisation. Patel, Menon and Mountbatten would go on to bring under the fold of the Congress government, over 550 states, knitting them together into what India looks like today.