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Showing posts from August, 2015

The dye is caste in Gujarat

I think it was 1994 when I first met Japanese scholar Takashi Shinoda, an Indologist, during my routine visit to the Sardar Patel Institute of Economic and Social Research, Ahmedabad, at that time still known for some quality research. Once headed such academics of highest order such as DT Lakdawala and YK Alagh, the institute has since collapsed – at least this is what I learn from Gujarat’s academic circles, with whom I had developed good rapport before I was shifted to Gandhinagar to report on government affairs for the Times of India in 1997.

“Vulnerable” Gujarat Patidars, others agitate for reservation

As I was sipping morning tea the other day, an idea came to my mind: Why not ask the age of the young man who is said to be “leading” the current Patidar or Patel reservation stir, Hardik Patel – an agitation that has put Gujarat back on the national map after more than a year. In fact, ever since Narendra Modi left Gandhinagar to occupy the gaddi in Delhi, the view has gone pretty strong, at least in my media fraternity, that Gujarat has “lost its importance”. A few TV channels have even “withdrawn” their senior journalists from Gujarat, telling them that there is “no news in the state”.

Displacement-induced development

The year was 2012, when D Jagatheesa Pandian, a Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat, was state energy secretary. Accompanied with two journalist colleagues, I dashed into his room on finding he had no guests to entertain. A seasoned official who became Gujarat chief secretary two years later, Pandian welcomed us with a broad smile. One who had the longest stint at the state-owned Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), almost 10 years, Pandian, to most of us, was synonymous to GSPC’s oil-and-gas exploration. One who can claim to have made Gujarat number 1 in the use of gas by providing most of the over 3,000-km-long gas pipeline network, he was also known to us as Gujarat’s “gas man” for another reason – he took GSPC to the KG Basin off Andhra coast, apart from going “multinational” to Egypt, Australia, Yemen and Indonesia for “exploratory” exploits. It is quite another thing that, not only GSPC’s multinational ventures, even the KG Basin oil-and-gas fields, have been either abandoned o…