Aziz Tankarvi – India
Whilst collecting as much information as possible to include in this book about our community, it was suggested to us by some well-wishers of the community that, along with our historical background and other information, we should also highlight the problems we are facing today and the possible solutions to overcome them.
In the light of such a worthwhile suggestion, I had numerous interviews and discussions with intellectuals and social workers from among the Bharuchi Vahora Patels to identify what problems we have in various fields and what can or should be done to alleviate them in the best possible way for the betterment of our community.
Readers are requested to keep a couple of points in mind whilst going through this chapter.
The issues and the views included here are of those people who have great concern for the welfare of the Vahora community and whom I have been able to contact. Similarly, the solutions suggested here are only their guidelines. Our purpose is not to create any uncertainty and futile controversy, but to provide a basis for a constructive forum for the healthy discussion of ideas, keeping in mind the welfare and benefit of our community.
If you feel that the problems mentioned here do not exist, then ignore them. If you feel that the nature of the problem is not as described here, but it is different, then you may examine the problem in your own manner and come up with a solution that may be more effective than the one suggested here.
The issues raised here are not in the form of the last word, nor are they binding on the community. These points are intended to be a paradigm to start the process of consultation in the community. We need to study the state of affairs in each field, asses the present situation and make necessary changes for better results. To maintain a status quo may not be advisable. If we look closely at the existing condition of our society, identify the undesirable elements and try to resolve them, the society will remain progressive and healthy. If this process does not continue, the community becomes regressive and cannot cope with new developments and the fast changing world.
I do not expect each member of the community to participate in this process of consultation. But the people who are associated with a particular field and who are responsible for that field may come together, have discussions, identify the problems, determine the changes needed, prepare an action plan and implement it. If a few people take the initiative, more people will join them. I do hope that the leaders, social workers and people running public organizations and institutions will find these suggestions useful.
1. Identifying the problems
Problems are part of the process of development. We have to accept that the problem exists and then try to understand the nature of the problem. We need to identify the possible causes through discussions and find ways of removing these causes. In today’s world, if a community does not have a problem solving ability, it remains backward, becomes dependent on others and, in the course of time, its very existence is threatened.
First of all, we need to examine our attitude towards problems and our approach to them. If a problem remains unresolved, the community tends to live with it. They stop perceiving it as a problem. For example poverty. If most people keep living in poverty, they come to accept it as normal and natural. They think poverty is there and nothing can be done about it. They become victims of the poverty trap. There are many such problems in our community that are not perceived as problems by most people. No attempts are made to resolve them. This is an ostrich like attitude towards problems. The ostrich buries its head in the sand pretending that there is no storm. Similarly, many people ignore problems and live with an illusion that there aren’t any problems. For the welfare of the community, the pre-condition is a change in this attitude.
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:
Verily! Allah will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change their own state (13:11).
The great poet Iqbal says:
Khuda ne aaj tak oos quaum ki haalat nahi badli,
Na ho ehsaas jisko apni khud halat badalneka.
Allah has never changed the condition of the community,
which does not have an awareness to change its condition itself.
So, we must change our attitude and culture of ignoring problems and sweeping them under the carpet. The first stage is to admit that there is a problem and then make sincere efforts to resolve it.
2. Collecting Data
In order to understand the nature of a problem, we need accurate information, facts and figures regarding the community. This requires a survey of the Bharuchi Vahora Patel community. Our population, percentage in jobs, occupations, per-capita income, rate of education, families living below the poverty line. Figures relating to all this can be collected and tabularized. This will give us a true picture of our community. It will help us prepare an effective action plan. In the absence of such accurate data, projects are undertaken haphazardly, which does not yield value for money. This leads to a huge waste of community resources – time, effort and money.
3. The problem of communal riots and our community
We wish that there is always an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity in our district, state and country and that various communities live in harmony. But unfortunately, there are elements in society who spread hatred and create a divide amongst people. Anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat are a fact of life. This is obviously a major problem for us as a community.
Allah has given us permission to defend ourselves in case of an attack on our faith, our lives, our properties and honour.
We do not want to oppress others, but we must not let others oppress us.
Protecting our faith, life, property is our human right, recognized by the United Nations.
The Indian constitution also guarantees this right to us.
Communal riots in Gujarat are a social evil and we need to work with others who are equally concerned about this problem to take sensible and constructive steps to get rid of this deep rooted evil. It is a problem which affects us all, Hindus and Muslims alike, and we must make joint efforts to defeat the forces of evil. It is no use sitting with our arms crossed thinking that it does not affect us as a Bharuchi Vahora Patel community. We must all make whatever contribution we can to cleanse the society of this damaging and destructive evil.
(a) First of all, let us collect accurate information regarding each riot so that we understand the pattern of anti-Muslim rioting. Since the creation of the Gujarat state in 1960, how many riots have taken place, which areas were affected, what caused these riots, the loss of life and property, how many court cases were filed, what was the outcome of these cases. This kind of information will help us understand the nature of the conspiracy, prepare a plan for self-defence and tackle this wicked design.
(b) An anti-Muslim mind-set is the root cause of communal riots. Islamophobic organizations are active in Gujarat. We need to keep an eye on their ideologies and activities. Identify their activists and their members. Collect information regarding their background. Be aware of their anti-Muslim conspiracies. Find out what they are up to.
(c) Keep a watch on the media. Take note of anti-Muslim reports, editorials, articles, cartoons, comments, rumours and provocative writings. Prepare a file for media monitoring, study every attempt at demonizing Muslims. As soon as an anti-Muslim article is published, send a reply using strong but decent language.
Collect information regarding the background and present activities of anti-Muslim columnists and the authors of reader’s letters. Publish articles exposing them as communal minded, anti-Muslim, backward, prejudicial and traitors. Destroy their credibility as writers and thinkers.
Do all this within the limits of the laws. If an article is intended to spread hatred and provoke people against Muslims or is likely to cause a riot by inciting people to resort to violence, seek legal advice and file a case against the writer and publishers.
(d) Make a note of the role of the police during a riot. If possible, make a video of their handling of the incident. If a police officer is found to be partial, complain to their superior officer. Give petitions to the District Collector, make a representation to your MLA and MP.
(e) In doing all this, do not break the law or take the law in your hands. Explore all legal avenues to seek justice against any harassment or violence against Muslims. Take offenders, including unjust police officers, to court. To meet the legal expenses and lawyers’ fees, raise a permanent fund. The victims of riots are poor people. They cannot afford legal costs. They may not know how to follow procedures. They are not in a position to make an application or hire a lawyer. They may be illiterate.
Create an organization of Muslim lawyers to handle cases relating to riots. Their fees must be reasonable and paid from the common fund.
Create a network in which every victim of a riot gets moral, legal and financial support from the community.
(f) As soon as the riot is over and peace is restored, appoint a fact finding committee. This committee should visit the affected areas, take photographs, interview the victims and their families and prepare a detailed report based on facts. Make a file and send copies to the state Government, human rights section of the United Nations and to all human rights organizations in the country.
There was an anti-Christian riot in Dang, Gujarat, when churches were set on fire. Christian social workers took photographs of the damage caused, prepared a report including media coverage and sent files to human rights organizations all over the world. This had the desired effect on the authorities who were compelled to act.
(g) Communal riots in Gujarat are not an exclusively Muslim problem. The other minorities, the poor and the backward classes of people are also affected. All these groups should come together and prepare a common plan for self-defence.
(h) Christians in Gujarat face a similar problem. The slogan used is “pehle kassai, baad mai Isai” (first butchers (Muslims), then Christians). Muslim leaders and Christian organizations should evolve a common approach to this problem.
(i) Many non-Muslim people are secular minded and liberal. They condemn violence against minorities and undertake relief work. They even fight court cases on behalf of Muslim victims. Muslim leaders and social workers should appreciate their efforts and work in close co-operation with them. Unfortunately, this does not happen. Tista Setalvad, for example, has received very little support from the Muslim community.
(j) After every riot, some individuals and organizations come out to collect funds and capitalize on the misery of Muslims. All that they do is distribute food and clothes among the victims and build a few houses. This is needed. But these organizations should be forced to stand by the victims during court cases, fight cases on their behalf and prepare and implement a long term plan to combat anti-Muslim violence. Piecemeal efforts made by many organizations do not produce any long lasting results.
4. Economic structure
History shows that Bharuchi Vahora Patels are hardworking, industrious and self-dependent. The Gazetteer published in 1877 notes:
“Bharuchi Vahora are skilled, hard working farmers. Their women are active, vocal and good-looking. They are skilled in embroidery and weaving and help their men in farming.”
(a) The terms skilled and hardworking indicate the work ethic of the community. Most Vahora were engaged in farming and women also worked on the farms and ran cottage industries. There was a culture of earning one’s livelihood through hard work.
Today we need to examine our attitude towards work. If we find laziness, unemployment or a desire to make easy money, we should treat this as a problem and try to create a work ethic in which every able-bodied person is inspired to work hard and be self-sufficient.
Maulana Hasan Bhadkodravi has discussed this problem of our community in his book entitled “Hard work: The key to economic progress” (1996). He shows an Islamic solution to the problem of poverty. He quotes a hadith (saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him)) and comments:
“The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) liked to see his ummah (community) hard working, industrious and skilled.”
Maulana Hasan gives examples to explain that tawakkul (trust in Allah) does not mean doing nothing or believing that Allah will provide a livelihood without any effort on our part. Along with ibadah (prayers), a pious Muslim must earn a halal (lawful) livelihood for himself and his family. The learned writer cites the following example:
Prophet Isa (Jesus) (peace be upon him) asked a man, “What is your occupation?” He replied “I am engaged in prayers.” He asked, “How do you make a living for yourself?” He said, “I have a brother who supports me.” Isa (peace be upon him) said, “Your brother is a better worshipper than you.”
Hakim Luqman advised his son:
“Dear son, always make a lawful earning because, if a person becomes dependent on others, his faith shrinks, intelligence dims and humanness disappears. People look down upon him.”
In short, the society should create an environment in which everybody works hard, takes responsibility for oneself and leads a respectful life. People should feel ashamed of begging and living off others.
(b) Allah has blessed Bharuchi Vahora Patels with agricultural land. Our ancestors were successful farmers. Today, our farming is ruined. People should seek expert advice to improve their farming and increase production. They should develop ancillary occupations such as poultry and animal husbandry. Farmers should form co-operative societies to get better prices for their products.
(c) The Indian economy is growing fast. A lot of construction work is going on in our areas. There is a huge demand for bricklayers, joiners, electricians, plumbers and painters and decorators. Our young people should undergo training to become builders. They should not feel shame in doing honest work. At present, most of the construction work is done by workers brought from outside. With people becoming affluent, more and more people are owning scooters and cars. There is a growing demand for motor mechanics.
We should open more technical institutions to train young people in various trades and skills. There should be co-ordination among the existing technical training centres.
(d) Most people pay Zakat (Islamic donations) in our community. A committee of Muftis should be formed to create a well-organized system of collecting and distributing Zakat funds.
We can set up a central office where all Zakat is deposited. This office should have information regarding orphans, widows and other needy families who can be supported from the Zakat fund. At present, the receivers of Zakat do all their shopping at private shops. The profits go to private businessmen. Instead, shops owned and run by the community should be opened. Prices should be fair. This way the profit made can be pumped back into the poor fund.
Able-bodied poor persons can be given capital from the Zakat fund to start a business. They can also be given occupational training. This will make people self-sufficient and less dependent on Zakat.
The central Zakat fund can also provide money to Islamic institutions according to their budgetary needs and the number of poor students they have. This will obviously restrict their number of admissions and expenditure. A fair distribution of funding among Islamic institutions will be ensured. If this system is set up, there will be no need for safirs (fund raisers) to go from place to place to collect money. This will save a lot of time and effort on the part of Islamic institutions. It is obviously a more dignified way of maintaining and monitoring our Islamic institutions.
(e) We should also become self-sufficient in arranging Qurbani (Islamic sacrificial offerings). People can be given loans to buy and rear animals. These can then be bought from them for Qurbani. At present, the skins of Qurbani animals are donated to masjids or madrasas. They sell them to private agents. Instead, a tannery can be founded and run by the community at the district level where the production of leather goods can be undertaken. At present, Muslims are merely buyers and consumers of meat. They have no share in raising animals or in the industries associated with cattle-feed, leather or animal bones.
(f) The community should have a network of co-operative societies. There were co-operative societies in the past but they were closed down due to corruption and mismanagement. A co-operative movement can be revived by honest, skilled, dynamic social workers.
(g) Bharuchi Vahora Patels settled abroad provide considerable financial help to people at home. Instead of spending this money on food, clothes, entertainment etc, it must be wisely invested. If foreign-aid leads people to live lazy, easy lives, it does not help in the long run. Anyway, over dependence on such help is not advisable. The second or third generation of relatives abroad may not be so keen to support their poor relatives in India. This being so, this source of income may soon dry up.
(h) Most villages spend foreign aid on projects which are unplanned and ill-advised. A survey of the needs of the Vahora community must be made and priorities must be decided. Only the most essential and useful projects should be undertaken and completed.
Farming has no longer remained a major source of livelihood in our community. Our young population is less likely to be engaged in farming. At the same time there is no provision for vocational training and acquisition of skills which can make them self-employed. Our work culture is such that people consider manual labour and certain type of skilled jobs as inferior and taboo. They remain jobless and become a burden on their families in particular and the society in general. Some families do receive financial help from their relatives who are settled in the UK, USA, Canada and the Middle East. This money is not properly utilised by the recipients. It is spent on building big houses, buying cars or motorbikes, clothes and expensive wedding celebrations. This money from abroad has promoted a culture of laziness and dependence on others. It is a common sight to see young people sitting idly in the streets, watching and talking about cricket matches, using latest mobile phones, roaming on motorbikes and throwing lavish parties.
Due to the lack of job opportunities at home and impressed by the life style of the NRIs visiting their homeland, the craze to go abroad has increased amongst the younger generation. There is nothing wrong in trying to go abroad for better opportunities. But even that requires some education and training so that they will find suitable jobs as soon as they land in a foreign country.
UK, USA, and Canada have now adopted points systems to attract highly educated skilled workers. Very few Vahora young people qualify in this category.
Jobless young people become victims of bad habits. Smoking is common. The abuse of drugs, tobacco, Gutkha and gambling are found in some Vahora villages. The craze of fashion and Bollywood films is increasing day by day.
6. Islamic Education
The Ulemas (Islamic scholars) of our community have created a network of Islamic institutions. There are a good number of madrasas and Darul Ulooms. But there is a lack of co-ordination and the same standard of Islamic education is not maintained. I have received some suggestions regarding Islamic education. These can be considered and Ulemas can decide on them, keeping in mind the spiritual and temporal welfare of the community. These may not be the final solutions. I am presenting these views only for the consideration of Ulemas.
Madrasas form the basis of Islamic education. Madrasa education must be well organized and fully effective. We need to carry out a survey of all madrasas in our community and find out the total number of madrasas, children, Muddarris (Islamic teachers), their salaries, madrasa buildings, facilities, source of income to run madrasas, expenditure, examinations etc. This type of comprehensive survey is needed for quality control.
The suggestions we have received to improve the madrasa education and make it more effective areas follows:
(i) All the madrasas run by Bharuchi Vahora Patels should offer a common curriculum designed by the Darul Ulooms. The course must be graded according to the age-level of the child. Assessments must be done following the standard prescribed by the Darul Ulooms. This will ensure a uniform standard in all our madrasas.
(ii) Darul Ulooms should offer a training course for Muddarris. Such training can be pre-service and in-service. All madrasas should only appoint trained Muddarris.
(iii) The madrasa curriculum must include the Arabic language. Children can easily learn basic Arabic in about five years, if a proper methodology is adopted. If Arabic is taught effectively, there is no need to teach Urdu. Children can learn about Islam through Arabic and Gujarati.
(iv) The number of students receiving education at Darul Ulooms should be limited. About 98% receive basic Islamic education at their local madrasa. Thus the madrasa is the most important institution. All efforts must be made to improve the quality of madrasa education.
(b) Darul Uloom
Ulemas have worked very hard to establish Darul Ulooms for our community. There are Darul Ulooms for girls as well. The curriculum of Islamic education is obviously designed by Ulemas. However, we have received suggestions regarding other aspects. These are practical suggestions and the people in charge of Darul Ulooms can consider them if they think these are appropriate from both an Islamic and worldly viewpoint. The intention is to increase the impact of Darul Ulooms in the society.
There should be an umbrella organization of all the Darul Ulooms run by Bharuchi Vahora Patels. This can form a central committee consisting of representatives from all Darul Ulooms. The organization can undertake the following activities:
(i) If there is harassment from a Government department or anti-social elements to any Darul Uloom, the organization can deal with the problem and resolve it. Joint action can be taken.
(ii) Extend financial or any other help to a Darul Uloom in need of such help.
(iii) Exchange of good practices and experiences between the Darul Ulooms.
(iv) Exchange mutual visits of students and teachers to increase interaction.
(c) There is a suggestion regarding the financial structure of Darul Ulooms. At present, the students buy their necessities such as soap, toothpaste, hair-oil, perfume, towels, clothes, shoes etc from private shops.
Darul Ulooms can establish and run a co-operative store to sell such items. They can also undertake the manufacturing of these items. This can include the setting up of a bakery, dairy, soap factory, garment factory etc.
Every student needs kafnis (long shirts), trousers, caps, etc. For this they buy cloth from various shops and take it to private tailors. A Darul Uloom garments factory manufacturing Islamic dresses for men and women will save time and money.
For the kitchen, Darul Ulooms can produce grains, vegetables and fruits. It can have a poultry farm. It can also breed animals for meat. It can have a small oil-mill.
Skilled persons can be employed for farming and for running the factories. The idea is that Darul Ulooms have a huge purchasing power and if they become the producers and suppliers, they will keep the profits. This will make them self-sufficient. At present, a large chunk of each Darul Uloom’s budget is pumped into the private sector and the Darul Ulooms remain as consumers.
It is not necessary to have production and supply facilities in each Darul Uloom. This can be centrally organized and individual Darul Ulooms can utilize it.
This arrangement should not disturb the teachers and students who are not directly involved in it. The organizers should appoint paid honest and experienced managers and workers for this purpose.
Regarding this suggestion, some people may argue that this will turn Darul Ulooms into a factory or shop. This is not the case, because the Darul Uloom is not directly involved in production or sale. It is creating facilities for Halal businesses, which is an act of deen (religion). In his book “Self-help: The key to economic development” the learned writer Maulana Hasan Bhadkodravi explains the importance of doing business by quoting this saying of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him): Undertake trade or business, because livelihood has ten portions out of which nine are trade.
If Allah wills, in this age of ruthless capitalism, Darul Ulooms can become instrumental in creating a fair, halal production and sale network. This will make the society free from the clutches of black-marketeers, profiteers, hoarders, adulterators and exploiters.
(d) There is a suggestion regarding the role of the Darul Uloom. A Darul Uloom is a university. In addition to imparting Islamic education, it can undertake the following additional activities of providing useful services to the madrasa sector:
(i) Design courses for madrasas, prepare textbooks, charts, posters and other teaching aids to teach aqaid (beliefs) and ibadah (worship) to madrasa children.
(ii) Undertake inspections of madrasas and provide guidance to improve the quality of education.
(iii) Conduct examinations in madrasas, to ensure a uniform system of teaching and assessment in all madrasas.
(iv) Run pre-service training courses for Muddarris. This can include methods of teaching, child psychology, classroom interaction etc.
(v) Deeni taleem (Islamic education) is absolutely essential for one’s salvation. But the student will have to lead a worldly life after he leaves a Darul Uloom. Not all will find jobs as Imams or Muddarris. These jobs are based on demand and supply trends. So, it is the responsibility of Darul Ulooms to prepare their students for a Halal livelihood. This requires training in job-oriented courses.
Similarly, Alimas (female Islamic scholars) will become wives and mothers in the future. They should be educated and trained for that role. In addition to their Alima course, the curriculum must include literacy, numeracy, child care, home economics and handicraft.
In short, the student who spends seven or more years at a Darul Uloom must be trained for an occupation which will enable them to earn a Halal decent livelihood. They should not become a parasite or a burden on others. In the past our religious leaders had introduced book-binding, watch repairing, cap making as vocational training in Darul Ulooms. There is no demand for these services today. So Darul Ulooms should offer training in the trades which are useful in our time. This will make the Darul Uloom education more balanced, make the student a good Alim and at the same time prepare them for a career.
(vi) Darul Ulooms should run vacation classes for high school and college students. This will strengthen the education they have received at their local madrasa, and they will experience the Islamic environment of a Darul Uloom.
(vii) Darul Ulooms offer a Fatwa service to the community. In addition, it can also offer a mediation service. People can bring their family or property disputes to Darul Ulooms where they can be resolved in an Islamic way. This will save people from expensive court cases and litigation.
The point is that Darul Ulooms must re-think their role and broaden it to have a greater impact on the community.
7. Firqabandi (Religious factions)
Bharuchi Vahora Patels are Sunni Muslims and they practice the Hanafi School of thought. Although they are all Sunnis, they are divided into various religious groups and over the years this division has caused many conflicts and problems for the community.
The differences started in the 1950s. Initially, there were only two firqas (factions), namely Barelvi and Deobandi. But in the course of time, people have divided into further minor firqas, thus breaking the community into small groups. Bharuchi Vahora Patels should seriously think about these divisions and the forces responsible for creating and promoting such divisions and conflicts. If some people are dividing the community in the name of religion for their selfish motives or to satisfy their ego, they must be exposed and put right.
Firqabandi causes a rift in the community and even among the members of the same family. It creates an atmosphere of hatred and suspicion. It adversely affects matrimonial ties in the community. If this problem remains unresolved, it will destroy the whole fabric of the society.
8. Secular Education
Secular education is essential for the development of the individual and society. Certain branches of knowledge are inevitable to sustain the community. Imam Ghazali (1058-1111), one of the greatest Islamic Jurists of Sunni Islam, emphasises the importance of these sciences in his Ihya-i-Ulumu’d-Din (The Revival of the Religious Sciences) in the following words:
“Those sciences which are essential for the progress of the society are praiseworthy, such as medical science, arithmetic etc. It is a Farz-e-Qifayah (joint obligation) for the community to learn this. Similarly agriculture, administration or management, industries, horticulture and the ancillary sciences are Farz-e-Qifayah. If no member of the society learns this, the sin is on the whole community.”
I have received the following suggestions regarding secular education in our community.
(i) The Bharuchi Vahora Patel community needs a centre for educational and vocational guidance and counselling at the district level. This centre should undertake an educational survey of the community to collect data relating to the rate of literacy, dropouts and higher education and the quality of education in our schools etc.
The centre can also offer additional services to provide information relating to the courses available, institutions, fees and preparation for careers.
(ii) There should be an organization composed of primary / secondary / higher secondary schools / colleges run by our community. These schools should tackle their problems jointly and exchange good practices in teaching and administration for mutual benefit. Together they can plan and implement school improvement programmes.
(iii) At present, our community does not have institutions of higher education. We can prepare plans to create this facility. Meanwhile, the centre mentioned above can collect information regarding the courses available at Indian and foreign universities. The Centre can also help students get admission to the institutions of their choice.
The high achievers in the community must be honoured. Scholarships must be provided. A survey should be undertaken to find out how many professionals are needed in the community and suitable plans should be drawn to meet the need of the community in those identified fields.
(iv) For those who cannot go for higher education, technical courses must be provided. A special institution must be set up at the district level for this purpose. It must be fully resourced and a high standard must be maintained. At present, there are isolated institutions for technical training. These can be amalgamated to form a central institution.
(v) The progress of our children in education depends on the achievement culture in the community. We should create an environment in which the child feels motivated and is set high expectations. It is observed that our children have low self-esteem and they lack self-confidence. Through workshops, meetings and proper guidance we need to raise their achievement motive.
9. Health Care
Private hospitals in India are very expensive and the treatment is unaffordable for most people. In these circumstances, the Welfare Hospital in Bharuch is a boon for our community. Instead of duplicating such hospitals in other towns, we need to strengthen the Welfare Hospital and fully resource it for treatment of serious diseases.
We are a small community. If we establish too many hospitals, they cannot be maintained in the long run. There must be dispensaries in Vahora Villages to treat common illnesses. For major illnesses, we must create ambulance facilities to move patients to the Welfare Hospital.
Before creating facilities for health care, we need to make a survey of our needs and plan health centres accordingly.
In addition to the Welfare Hospital, there are other hospitals in our community. If we do not want to close down these existing hospitals, they can be converted into specialized hospitals – one for maternity, another for paediatrics, yet another for orthopaedics etc. This will be cost effective and more efficient.
10. Social Workers
We need sincere, efficient social workers in the community. Our society is becoming more and more individualistic. There are very few people committed to community service. We need to create an atmosphere to inspire more people to volunteer for community work.
There are large number of retired people in our community. These pensioners should be requested to undertake social work during their free time and give the benefit of their knowledge and experience to the community.
The community needs selfless and efficient people who can provide leadership in various fields. The leader should not be imposed from the top nor should he be a self-appointed leader. People should accept only those individuals as leaders who have a clean record of social work and community services. We have received a comment that in our community sincere, honest, educated people do not come forward to take up leadership. There are lots of good people in our community who have been marginalised. We need to find out why good people are not willing to take up leadership roles. We must create an atmosphere in which efficient people will be encouraged to lead the community.
Leadership requires training. We must organize leadership training programmes for young people. This can include the study of the personalities of great leaders and their styles and practices.
The present leaders should also train young people to prepare the second line of leadership.
People should be encouraged to assess and judge their own leaders not on the basis of how much power they enjoyed but how much welfare work they did for the community. True leadership is not about pomp or power. It is about social service and constructive work.
12. Role Models
In our community there are people who have made remarkable achievements in their respective fields. They should be brought before the young people as role models. Unfortunately, the tendency in our community today is to ignore talented people or belittle their achievements.
Deepak Bardolikar, a prominent poet and writer now living in Manchester, UK has rightly pointed out:
“The community that does not acknowledge and honour its own talented people ceases to produce any more outstanding people amongst them.”
13. Community organizations
There are many social organizations and institutions in our community. Most of them are without any significant impact on the society. We have received the following suggestions regarding community organizations:
Organizations must be transparent and run in a democratic manner. The community must assess and evaluate each organization and decide whether it is in the interest of the community to support it or not.
The criteria for the evaluation of an organization are:
(i) It must be set up only if it is needed and is relevant to the present situation. No organization should be formulated at the whim of an individual.
(ii) It should have a written constitution that must be available to any member of the community.
(iii) It must be run according to its constitution.
(iv) Its structure must be democratic and encourage wider participation.
(v) Its office bearers must be elected and not self-appointed.
(vi) It must not be authoritarian or autocratic with a concentration of power in one individual or a family.
(vii) It must be free from misappropriation and corruption.
(viii) It must be free from nepotism and cronyism.
(ix) The positions of the office bearers should not be hereditary.
Only those organizations that meet the above criteria should be supported by the community.
14. Vahora Bulletin
We need a bulletin to make people aware of the affairs related to our community. This can publish relevant news items, reports of community events, social issues, creative writings, views etc. Negative and destructive viewpoints must be kept out. The bulletin must be serious, constructive and balanced.
15. Bharuchi Vahora Patel Development Centre
A Bharuchi Vahora Patel Development Centre is needed for the planning, co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation of our social activities. This centre must have qualified paid staff and resourced with computers, books, a seminar room etc.
The centre can conduct surveys to collect information, analyse it and prepare appropriate action plans for implementation.
It may not be possible to involve every member of the community in this process. But the centre can identify some people to form a think-tank and provide indicators for the uplifting of the Bharuchi Vahora Patel community.