By Lizzy Okoji
Abuja, Oct. 31, 2020 Mr Abhay Thakur, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria has said that unity in diversity is critical to sustain democracy in diverse and populous countries like India and Nigeria.
Thakur made this known on Saturday in Abuja in an event to commemorate the National Unity Day of India and the 145th birth anniversary of Sardar Patel, who was instrumental to India’s independence.
According to Thakur, Oct. 31 has been a special day for India since it was set aside by the government of India in 2018 to honor Patel , a day also acknowledged by the United Nations.
He said that Patel’s philosophies, thinking and ideas hold a lesson for all large countries particularly large democratic counties in the world including Nigeria.
Thakur also said that Patel’s philosophies have been instrumental to the unity enjoyed in India today despite diverse religions, ethnicity and culture which is key in every populous nations.
“Today is a very special day for India because for the last several years it has been marked as the national unity day.
“And in large diverse countries like India and Nigeria, an essential cohesion of purpose and a united approach towards national issues is important and very important to spirit of unity among populist countries.
“And particularly even more so in very diverse countries.
“India is the largest democracy in the world and Nigeria is the largest democracy in Africa and I did not elaborate on the numerous positive reasons which require that we celebrate and mark unity in diversity from time to time.
“As for Sardar Patel, today we are observing his 145th birth anniversary and one of the most important contribution he made was to ensure that India with its 562 princely states when the British left India in 1947 were integrated into India.
“Without the use of force, using the power of persuasion, of the importance not staying together and approaching very sensitive issues for results.
“And that is why we say the he is the man of India who despite many challenges united India from among its princely states.
“In many ways he was also respectful of the diversity of India because today we have provinces which respect different languages, particular but also cultures, religion and so on.
“Again, he had a high sense of balance and judgment where he ensured that why unity was pursued diversity was preserved.
“So this is something that was his unique contribution and today what we see in India owes a large part of it to Sardar Patel, his thinking, his philosophy and his ideas.
“And I think he is not only an Indian figure but his approach and his form, yet inclusive approach holds a lesson for all large countries particularly large democratic counties in the world including Nigeria,” Thakur said.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the #EndSARS Protest, Thakur said India would continue to support the growth and sustained democracy of Nigeria as both countries have long standing relationships.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had addressed the nation on the situation on the way forward and India will continue to stand by Nigeria.
“India is a great friend of Nigeria, we have long standing relationship, we have stood by each other through thick and thin, we have supported each other on numerous issues in the multilateral fora.
“And the partnership dates back to our independence and freedom struggles.
“Mahatma Gandhi was influenced a lot by Africa, India always stood by Nigeria and Africa for their struggle for independence and today in global fora we look at each other as great friends.
“And I think President Muhammadu Buhari has already spoken in details, he has addressed the nation on the way forward.
“And we stand by Nigeria in its times of need as it may be and also as steadfast and a constant partner,” Thakur said.
Mr Panneer Elvis, President of the Indian Cultural Association in Nigeria told NAN that Patel would always be remembered in India for his teaching on non-violence which has been key to the unity of India.
He also urged Nigeria as a close friend of India to emulate Patel’s teachings and philosophies on unity and non-violence at this time.