FIVE WAYS TO CELEBRATE GUJARAT'S FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY
- Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
There are perhaps five hundred ways and more, by which one can celebrate Gujarat's 50th birthday.
But Gujarat and all of us, who do well, if we would give top priority to the following:
1. Celebrate Heritage:
Let us highlight the fact that we belong to an ancient culture which boasts of Lothal and Dholavira. Recent excavations have brought home the fact that our lineage is very rich;
dinosaurs are believed to have roamed the lands around Balasinor. Let's get back and celebrate our roots!
2. Celebrate Minorities:
Gujarat would never have been the same, were it not for the contributions of the Mughals, very especially of a great ruler like Ahmed Shah. Whether it is the Siddi Syed Mosque,
or for that matter, the step-wells across the State, there has been an immense contribution to art and architecture by the minorities. A good part of the "mithai" that we so happily
consume, be it the jalebi or the halwai are mid-Eastern in origin; bangles and jewellery are part of our decor. We owe much to the minorities!
3. Celebrate Adivasis:
The Adivasis constitute about 9% of our State and they have greatly been responsible for preserving our eco-systems. The whole eastern corridor still forested would have
been nothing, if not for them. Unfortunately, over the years through mega-projects, we have alienated them and pushed them to the brink. They are the original inhabitants
of our land. Let's recognize their rights!
4. Celebrate Workers:
May 1st is Worker's Day all over the world. Unfortunately, the closure of our textile mills has meant immediate unemployment for thousands of workers.
We see large groups of daily labourers standing at "nakas" waiting for their daily bread. Unjust wages and systematic exploitation have been their lot.
It will be a great day to help forge unity among the working class!
5. Celebrate Water:
We need to realise that a large percentage of the people of our State have no access to clean drinking water. The people of Saurashtra are thirsting for water!
Village women have to trudge several miles for a pail of water. We need more viable solutions to respond to their cries of the poor be it 'jal, jungle, jamin'
or 'roti, kapada aur makaan'. Instead of cosmetic illuminations, we could better divert the funds towards the genuine needs of the people.
We definitely need to celebrate "Swarnim Gujarat" but do we have the courage to do it in real ways?
(* Fr. Cedric Prakash sj is the Director of "Prashant", the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
29th April, 2010
PRASHANT (A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad – 380 052