Q: A 182-metre-tall ‘Statue of Unity’ was unveiled in Gujarat. Is it a real tribute to and recognition of Patel’s role in integrating various princely States and ensuring India’s unity? What feelings does this statue arouse in the minorities?
A: Patel, the Iron Man of India, was the chief architect of India. We are not against building a monument for this great man of unity. But it is happening at a time when the unity and the inclusive nature of the nation is disappearing. The statue has also been heavily criticised by tribal communities living in the vicinity, who were displaced for the project. The voice of the poor should be heard. Patel was the unifier of the nation. In the present scenario, the idea of Hindu Rashtra has affected the minorities. Even though we are not directly threatened, we have a fear that our minority rights are in danger. Sardar Vallabhai Patel wanted everyone to be united and all India to become one. But now there is a huge effort at polarization on the basis of religion, caste and gender. Irrespective of caste and religion, all should stand united as a nation.
Bp Jose Chittooparambil