Worried Patels in UK say violence over quota is no solution
The two lakh-strong Patel community in Britain is closely following the agitation in Gujarat, with many sympathising with the demands raised by Hardik Patel - the man behind the protests - but also expressing serious concern over the violence and its effect on India's image abroad.india Updated: Aug 27, 2015 21:07 IST
The two lakh-strong Patel community in Britain is closely following the agitation in Gujarat, with many sympathising with the demands raised by Hardik Patel - the man behind the protests - but also expressing serious concern over the violence and its effect on India's image abroad.
CB Patel, a prominent community leader and publisher of 'Gujarat Samachar' and 'Asian Voice' publications, told HT: "There are some genuine grievances but we are against violence. I have spoken to many Patels in the US too. We are all worried. Maybe Hardik Patel was wrong, but the police also needs to be tactful."
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He added: "Today I am genuinely very worried, not only because of my family name, but for India, the development path does not deserve such death, destruction or deviation... I must add that Patels and other communities which are protesting are as nationalist and loyal citizens of India as anyone else."
Patel, who set up the Patidar Samaj in Britain in 1973, said the violence would not only affect India's image abroad and foreign investment, but has also worried the third and fourth generation of Patels who were born and raised in Britain.
"My grandchildren will be ashamed to call themselves Patels if the surname is associated with violence. The Patel agitation is a symbol of the paralysis of caste-based reservation policies in India, which have not benefited Dalits and others," Patel said.
According to Patel, the ideal solution would be to "create a formula to elevate the age-old disadvantage based on socio-economic criteria as it has happened in several Western democracies for the removal of discrimination and create equal opportunities".
There are 200,000 Hindu Patels and nearly 25,000 Muslim Patels in Britain; many are based in the east Midlands town of Leicester, which is twinned with the city of Rajkot. A large number also reside in Wembley and Harrow areas of London.
Another senior Patel community leader, who preferred anonymity, was critical of chief minister Anandiben Patel, who, he alleged, did not act with the sensitivity required while dealing with the situation across the state.
Most of the Patel community in the UK is well off, according to economic indicators, working mostly in the retail, pharmacy, medicine, dentistry, IT and financial sectors. 'Patel' is one of the most common surnames in Britain.