Message from Patidar Summit in Gandhinagar – the community is 'job giver' not 'job seeker'
The Gujarat government facility at Mahatma Mandir in the state capital of Gandhinagar is currently playing host to a Global Patidar Summit 2018, a community-centred business event that aims to further develop the economically and politically powerful community of Patels.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, while inaugurating the summit in the presence of a large number of his cabinet colleagues, inferred complete government support to the event which has been organised by a philanthropic community organisation Sardardham Vishwa Patidar Kendra (SDVPK).
Congress leaders from the Patidar community like Paresh Dhanani also attended the event while Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to give it a miss.
The event, however, comes at a time when the Patidar community stands divided with youth leader Hardik Patel demanding reservation benefits in educational institutions and government jobs. Hardik had joined hands with the Congress in the recent elections that saw the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sliding to below the three-figure mark in the polls.
The Patel players in the industry have come together to work employment generation, entrepreneurship and skill development among the Patidar youths. They have unveiled a 'Mission 2026' looking at employment, skill development, business linkages and entrepreneurship promotion for the community members. The organisers have claimed that delegates from 32 countries would be attending the event.
Reports have quoted SDVPK president Gagji Sutaria saying – “To harness youth, we have decided to form a body of 10,000 industrialists and employ 10 lakh youth by 2026. We want to encourage 10,000 girls and boys to join the administrative services.”
He added – “The association will create entrepreneurship and business opportunities for some 10 lakh Patidar youth.”
The SDVPK has reportedly committed an investment of Rs 100 crore to set up a training centre and a hostel.
The community associations that have come together for the initiative include Umiya Career Development Council, Sola and Leuva Patel Pragati Mandal, Nikol in Ahmedabad, Shree Kanam Pradesh Patidar Seva Samaj, Vadodara, Umiya Career Development Council, Mehsana, Kadva Patidar Samaj, Gandhinagar, Unjha Kelvani Mandal, Unjha, Sardar Patel Seva Trust, Bhavnagar and Samast Patidar Samaj, Surat.
The SDVPK plans to hold this event every two years.
In his inaugural address, Rupani gave a call to all communities for ‘Service to the Nation through service to the society’, to reduce the differences between different societies and to reduce the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
Rupani said the Patidars, while being known for their honesty and hard-working enterprising spirit, inheriting the qualities required for farming have switched over to industries and self-employment, befitting the changing times.
Ten Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for setting up new industries, self-employment, competitive examinations and other fields were signed on the occasion in the presence of Rupani and the Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel.
This business event assumes political significance in the present scenario in Gujarat where a section of the Patidar community has been fighting for reservation benefits over the last two years.
“This event in a way is a counter to what Hardik and his team have been demanding. The organisers and supporters are in a tacit way trying to convey that the Patidar community has been in a position of 'job givers' through the enterprises the Patels have set up in globally and they would not want the tag of 'job seekers',” says an observer based in Ahmedabad.
There is a joke in Gujarat that the authorities at the US visa offices reject the applications where the applicant's surname is Patel. This is because the motels in America have come to be known as 'Potels' with the Gujarati Patels acquiring a large number of them.
“This event is of no significant value except being a socio-economic statement on behalf of a section of the community. What is being talked about has been an age-old practice among Patels and they do not need to be taught business skills. The community has always tried to help members establishing enterprise either at the village level or at the bigger level. A new Patel entrepreneur gets orders from other Patidars in business without saying. It is just that the normal practice has been covered with jargons like 'global linkages' etc.,” said a youth member from the Patidar community.
It is being pointed out that the community members have enough business and entrepreneurial skills at hand to multiply their businesses. All they need is a conducive atmosphere to do so.
The Gujarat government in the run-up to the recent polls had decided in September to set up a commission for the educational and economic upliftment of the upper castes after negotiating with the Patidars agitating for reservation. This Unreserved Class Welfare Commission was to be modelled on the lines of other community-based welfare boards and corporations.
Observers say that the Rupani-led BJP government will be trying every thing to ensure that the Patidars return to the party support base en-block before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls because his own future as the state chief minister hinges on what he delivers in these polls. The BJP had won all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 polls under the Modi wave.