“Every Indian should now forget that he is a Rajput, a Sikh, or a Jat. He must remember that he is an Indian and he has every right in his country but with certain duties”. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s quote reflects his vision for a united and inclusive India after gaining independence from British colonial rule. It emphasizes that every Indian should prioritize their identity as an “Indian” above regional or caste affiliations. He stressed the importance of unity and civic duties to build a strong and harmonious nation after India’s independence.
Sardar Patel left a lasting legacy by integrating pieces of an immensely complicated jigsaw into a cohesive whole that is India as we know it today. He is, indeed, the ideal of national unity. To celebrate this remarkable individual, 31st October- his birth anniversary- has been observed as National Unity Day since 2014. On 31st October 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the world’s tallest statue – the ‘Statue of Unity’ to the nation. National Unity Day connects the present generation with India’s history and the struggle for independence. It reminds people of the sacrifices and steps made by leaders like Sardar Patel to accomplish a united, independent India.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s vision of unity in India was rooted in the idea that a united and integrated India was crucial for the country’s progress, stability, and strength. Sardar Patel was instrumental in the integration of over 562 princely states into the newly independent India. This integration was crucial in shaping India’s territorial boundaries and ensuring the unity of the nation.
His vision promoted an inclusive approach to nation-building, recognizing the rich diversity of India’s people and cultures. He desired to create a nation where all citizens, regardless of their background, had a place and a role to play. While advocating unity, Patel also respected and preserved India’s cultural and linguistic diversity. His vision was not about homogenizing the country but about forging unity amidst this diversity.
In addition, another illustrious contribution made by Sardar Patel was the creation of All India Services. He has envisioned these services as the ‘Steel Frame of India’ that would further safeguard the country’s unity and integrity. He considered the officers of the Services as partners in administration and expected them to maintain the highest standards of integrity and honesty.
Today’s politicians can take a page from Sardar Patel’s playbook to orchestrate a symphony of unity in India. Much like a conductor harmonizing various instruments to create beautiful music, politicians should transcend divisive notes and blend the diversity of the nation into a melodious anthem of progress. By recognizing that every citizen is a vital player in this grand orchestra of India, they can produce a harmonious nation that resonates with unity, diversity, and shared purpose, creating a masterpiece for generations to come.
Sardar Patel’s vision of unity in India was not just about the physical integration of territories; it was about fostering a sense of belonging and shared responsibility among all citizens. His vision has left a lasting influence on the nation’s identity, and it continues to be honored and revered as a cornerstone of India’s strength and stability.
His love for the nation was nicely portrayed by Maulana Azad when he said: “He made his choice out of two courses that come before a man, namely would he live for his country or himself? Sardar chooses his country.”