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The 142nd birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was celebrated with great fanfare as the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day) on October 31st, 2017 at G D Goenka University. This was the fourth edition of the event at G D Goenka University and the auspicious occasion was attended by the Honourable Vice Chancellor Prof. (Dr.) Shrihari, Registrar Dr. Nitesh Bansal, Dean Academics Prof. (Dr.) Shantha Kumar, Dean Student Welfare Prof.(Dr.) Tanuja Kaushik, deans of various schools, faculty, staff and hundreds of students.

Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel (1875-1950) stands out amongst the constellation of the nation’s leaders as a bright shining star. His life and work have inspired generations of Indians. His was the legacy of unifying 562 princely states into the newly freed India to create the motherland as we now know and revere. Without him the modern history and the idea of the Indian nation would have been vastly different.

He was the son of a farmer and yet unlike his brothers he chose to focus on his studies. In 1897, Vallabhbhai passed high school and started preparing for law examination. He overcame tremendous hardships and saved money bit by bit to go to England to pursue a degree in law. He completed his law degree in 1913 and came back to India to start his law practice. While practising law in Ahmedabad, he attended a lecture by Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi’s words deeply affected Vallabhbhai and he soon became a staunch follower of the charismatic leader. His effort to bring together the farmers of his area brought him the title of ‘Sardar’. He actively supported the non-cooperation Movement launched by Gandhi. Patel toured the nation with him, recruited members and helped collect funds for the freedom movement. He was arrested many times for his role in leading the Salt Satyagraha and later the Quit India movement. During the painful negotiations around Partition with the British and the Muslim League, he represented India.After India achieved independence, Sardar Patel became the first Home Minister and also the Deputy Prime Minister. He played a very crucial role in post-independence India by successfully integrating around 562 princely states under the Indian Dominion.

Rashtriya Ekta Diwas celebrations at G D Goenka University began with an address to the gathering about the inspiring life and legacy of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. This was followed up by playing a recorded speech by the great leader on the theme of national unity. His idea of India was that of a strong and united nation where every Indian enjoys rights and fulfills his or her duties to the nation.

The idea of India was elaborated upon by a performance by the students. The act drew inspiration from the colours of the Indian flag; Saffron, white and green.

Saffron stands for sacrifice. The play urged Indians to let go of divisiveness, of our social ills, of all things that seek to separate us. We are Indians first, above all. White stands for peace. The performers urged all Indians to embrace our diversity and promise ourselves that we will peacefully coexist, side by side, and honour and love our motherland by giving respect to each other. Green stands for the prosperity that we seek for every Indian. The play focused on how every Indian needs to put his/her energies in nation building and participate in the nation’s holistic development. To commemorate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Iron Man of India, the key message from the performance was that as Indians we need to re-dedicate ourselves to the nation as patriots.

The entire gathering, led by the Honorable Vice Chancellor Prof. (Dr.)Shrihari took the Unity pledge followed by singing of the national anthem Jana GanaMana. The Run For Unity commenced shortly thereafter and saw the enthusiastic participation of hundreds of students, faculty and staff led by the Honorable Vice Chancellor.

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