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Run for Unity - Vadodara

“We are running to unite the people, unite the villages and unite the nation,” said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, as he flagged off the ‘Run for Unity’ in Vadodara on December 15, 2013. Over 40 lakh people from 1100 locations from all over India participated in the run which was held to mark the 63rd Punya Tithi of the Iron man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The main aim of organising the Run for Unity was to integrate the youth with the message of unity.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi while flagging of the run paid rich tributes to Sardar Patel and emphasised some of the qualities which the iron man of India stood for. “Sardar Patel devoted his life to unify the nation. He integrated the common people in the freedom struggle and made efforts to rid the nation of the colonial mind-set. He undid the mindset of divisiveness and united the nation. When we remember Mahatma Gandhi we remember truth, non-violence, sacrifice, simplicity, Satyagraha; when we remember Sardar Patel we remember Ekta, Surajya and Kisan (unity, good governance and the farmer),” he said.

A stand out message given out by the Gujarat Chief Minister during Run for Unity was that India’s diversity is its strength. ‘Akhandata Me Ekta, Hindustan Ki Visheshta’ (Unity in diversity, this is India’s strength), he said. He elaborated further that, “Our diversity is not something that is on paper. It is the manifestation of our strength. It is not only our identity but also our tradition.” Citing this Chief Minister Modi emphasised that there can be no bigger inspiration for unity than Sardar Patel. He called on the citizens to approach the Statue of Unity movement as an apolitical movement and strive to root India to its three pillars of unity, good governance and people’s participation. Chief Minister Modi flagged off the 21 km, 15 km run and 5 km at Vadodara. The ‘Run for Unity’ generated a phenomenal response all over the nation. Former Deputy Prime Minister of India, L.K. Advani flagged off the run in Ahmedabad.

The event was earlier planned for only 565 locations, symbolic of the 565 princely states that Sardar Patel united. However, enthusiastic response from volunteers and participants from all over the country ensured that the event was held in over 1100 locations.

The event comes in the backdrop of the Statue of Unity which is a fitting tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust’s (SVPRET) Statue of Unity is aimed at building the world’s tallest statue of Sardar Patel at a height of 182 meters which is set to pip, Christ the Redeemer (39.6 meters), Statue of Liberty (93 meters), and Spring Temple Buddha (153 meters) to be the world’s tallest statue. On October 31, 2013, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Former Deputy Prime Minister of India L.K. Advani laid the foundation stone of the statue at Sadhu bet in Narmada district of Gujarat.

At the foundation stone laying ceremony, both leaders resonated that Sardar Patel is known for rooting India to democracy as he integrated all the princely states. Truly so, Once Mahatma Gandhi remarked to Sardar Patel, “The problem of States is so difficult that you alone can solve it,” with respect to the unification of the 565 Princely States. Regarded for ensuring political unity of the nation soon after independence, Sardar was indeed the unifier who carved out a place for himself by integrating all 565 Princely States as the Republic of India and this too with remarkable speed. He dealt with every king in a manner in which he alone was capable of. Statue of Unity comes as a humble dedication to this inspiring visionary from India.

Sardar’s contribution to India has been relentless and remarkable. One of his remarkable contributions was to put in place a Constituent Assembly and also involve leaders like BR Ambedkar to head the drafting team of the Indian constitution. India will remain forever indebted to Sardar for instating robust mechanisms such as our constitution which has been the very pillar on which India has governed till date.

While laying the foundation stone for the statue, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi categorically stated that the Statue of Unity will not just be the world’s tallest statue but also stand out for various other significant reasons such as educating the citizens, imbibing in common man the historical importance of Sardar Patel and his vision, enthusing nationalism among all, and spirituality. Armed with this, he affirmed that Statue of Unity will be a source of inspiration for all.

In essence the statue will help us to remember the inspirational Sardar Patel. When we remember Sardar, we remember the common man as he fought for the rights of common man. One striking example is that through his service, he ensured that the common man must never suffer. The Bardoli Satyagraha contributed to Sardar being recognised as a national leader in the Indian independence struggle. Widely respected by everyone in the State, Sardar led the farmer’s struggle and restored the confiscated lands and properties of the villagers from the British, as well as cancelled revenue payment not only for the year, but cancelled the 30 per cent tax raise. It is pertinent to note that the women of Bardoli had bestowed upon him the title of Sardar which means chief or leader. True to his title, he enthusiastically served for the rights of the farmers and ensured he got people to identify with the vision of Mahatma Gandhi. Thus the Statue of Unity comes as a perfect dedication from the Government of Gujarat.

The Run for Unity was a curtain raiser to the Statue of Unity Movement, considered the largest country-wide drive to honour the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The movement aims to revive and reinforce Sardar Patel’s values of unity, good governance and grassroots development. Promoting the concept of ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat,’ the Statue of Unity movement encompasses the following activities: Write for Unity (WFU): An Essay writing competition on Sardar Patel and his ideals of unity and good governance in 1.67 Lakh secondary and senior secondary schools across the country, Photo Collage: A photo collage of elected representatives at grassroots level from over 2.5 Lakh governing bodies (Gram Panchayats and Wards). This will be showcased in a museum inside the statue complex. Locality Meetings which includes collection of 700 tons of used farm iron tools from over 5 lakh villages, collection of soil samples from all village panchayats and obtaining signatures of 2 crore people on the ‘Suraaj Petition’ ( good governance petition) in support of a developed India.

Statue of Unity – A Nation Unifier

“Sardar Patel is the architect of modern India. Overcoming various obstacles he integrated the entire nation and today, if we can celebrate our unity, it is due to the efforts of Sardar Patel. At a height of 182 metres, the Statue of Unity would be among the tallest statues in the world, celebrating and paying tributes to the Iron Man of India.” – Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The Statue of Unity is Gujarat’s homage to one of the greatest sons of India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. At 182 meters, the Statue of Unity as it is officially called, will be the largest statue in the world, almost double the world famous Statue of Liberty.

The name ‘Statue of Unity’ was decided to be befitting to this great man who had singlehandedly united nearly 550 princely states within Union of India, and provided good governance as an able administrator in diverse fields like modern farming and empowerment of tribal communities. The statue is a tribute to this great architect of modern and united India. The statue is expected to be the source of inspiration for the upcoming generations and also remind the great works of Sardar Patel.

The ‘Statue of Unity’ has become an ideal which has inspired several nation building initiatives. The ‘Run for Unity’ was one such initiative which turned out to be wildly successful, with over 29 lakh participants across the country. Post the wildly popular ‘Run for Unity’ mega event, a very unique and patriotic initiative was launched.

In order to celebrate the Iron Man’s legacy of having united the nation, Chief Minister Narendra Modi was determined that the ‘Statue of Unity’ have the imprints of every village in the country. On December 28, 2013, the Chief Minister flagged off a caravan of trucks, which fanned out in different directions on a massive pan-India ‘iron tools collection’ drive from seven-lakh villages for constructing ‘Statue of Unity’, to commemorate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s stellar contribution in uniting India at the time of Independence. These trucks carrying about three-lakh empty kit boxes would visit the villages to collect specimen of soil and scrap-iron farm implements on the basis of prior intimation already sent to 1.87 village panchayats. The soil and scrap iron thus collected will be used in the Statue of Unity project, billed to the world’s tallest statue, to be constructed near the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) dam on an island in River Narmada.

The volunteers accompanying the trucks are carrying the message of ‘unity despite disparity’.

The statue will be located at Sadhu Bet, an island situated 3 km away from the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat. The Sardar Sarovar Dam is gravity dam built on the river Narmada and is a part of Narmada Valley Project. The height of the statue is 182 metres which makes it the tallest one in the world. It is also one of the largest projects of the country. Tourists have to embark in a boat to reach the statue.

The agency involved in building the statue is of great repute. Turner Construction of US is known for building many famous and giant structures such as Burj Dubai, the Yankee Stadium of New York etc.

 
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