EXCLUSIVE| In Osho’s land, Union minister’s daughter talks of dinosaur fossils & Geology lessons

| Updated: 14 November, 2023 7:25 pm IST

NEW DELHI: As Madhya Pradesh elections are around the corner, Union Minister Prahlad Patel’s daughter Pratigya Patel shared insights into her father’s life, highlighting her family’s connection to Jabalpur ahead of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections in an exclusive interview with The New Indian.

The New Indian team uncovered a side of Prahlad Patel’s children that isn’t focused on politics. The three kids of union ministers have chosen peaceful lives, pursuing careers in arts and architecture instead of getting into politics. In an interview, our Executive Editor Rohan Dua learned about the Patel family’s dedication to promoting small towns like Jabalpur.

Rohan: Pratigya, with the election just around the corner and your father transitioning from the Lok Sabha election to this one, could you share what you do and how excited you are as far as your own spending time is concerned?

Pratigya: “Currently I am pursuing my masters in MFA from Shiv Nadar University. My specialisation is in Economics but my practice is shifting towards multimedia and installation.”

Rohan: Are the two daughters very attached to the father?

Pratigya: “All three of us are and it has to do with the way he has made time for us and it’s a quality that I’ve learned from him that you know you actually make time for things that matter. He makes time for his people, his region that he might have his election in, or his old constituencies as well. People know him and people actually value him for that.

“That comes from the kind of way he carries himself or with the integrity he carries himself the way. He got himself in politics because he wants to serve people and I still see that in him even at the age of 63 and it’s remarkable the way he still wants to update himself and learn.”

Rohan: I believe that you all also borrowed the learnings from your own father who holds a degree in Geology. What are the impressions that you have got?

Pratigya: “He once took us to the Lameta Ghat and it has rock formations from creation time so you know he would take us and teach us about these rock formations. How different are they? What is their composition? How they actually aid or supplement the ecosystem and how they look overall.”

Rohan: So, he would take all three of his kids?

Pratigya: “Yes, a lot of family friends as well, and then, nearby Jabalpur, there are a lot of dinosaur fossils as well and he would teach us about that. He would teach us about soil composition.”

Rohan: You taught all of them about the fossils.

Pratigya: “Yes, even soil composition through farming as well.”

Rohan: Because he has done Geology himself…

Prahlad: “The thesis my elder daughter has written on Narmada, I don’t think in the world anyone has written a book on it. It is really phenomenal. The title would be ‘Sacred Caves of Narmada’ and she has covered ‘Parikramas’, geological formations, and architecture.

“She is a conservationist and did her masters from SPA (School of Planning and Architecture). The kind of information that book is going to be very very interesting because there’s a lot of data, a lot of oral traditions and a lot is going to be covered.”

Rohan: Could you share how growing up in Jabalpur, despite not being as bustling as metropolitan cities, has influenced your values, given the town’s rich culture, legacies, and folklore?

Pratigya: “I think it’s the way we have been brought up, to be honest. Not everybody or everyone from this city might agree. I was born in Delhi but he chose that kids should be brought up surrounded by family and that’s the kind of value that I see lacking in most cities and even in my practice and the way I carry myself I avidly talk about them.”

Rohan: Which are the things that you talk about?

Pratigya: “Mostly, with disciplines or old stories like I tell people this is what my father has taught me. This is how I carry myself because I’ve seen my father carry himself like that and the same goes with my mother and the way they respect each other it’s remarkable. I really idealise that sort of relationship and the respect they have for each other.”

Rohan: What are the beautiful things in Jabalpur that you like?

Pratigya: “The culture.”

Rohan: What are those? What are the three or four major sites?

Pratigya: “So the sites are Chausath Yogini Temple. I love that temple. Beautiful architecture then Bhedaghat- the waterfall.”

Rohan: From where we came…

Pratigya: “Yes, the third is the Ghugwa. You have to look at it because these huge marble hills and it’s so beautiful. You have to travel through them. It’s so serene and quiet and you know locals of ‘parikrama vasis’ might be singing. The kind of ethos the city has.”

Rohan: How many years have the three kids spent here? 20 years?

Pratigya: “More than that. We shifted here in 2001.”

Rohan: Was it your father’s decision that you must stay in Jabalpur?

Pratigya: “No, he has never imposed any decision on us. From what we have studied to carry ourselves. His requirement for us was to travel as much as we can and learn as much as we can. One thing he would tell me is to study society. One it can be done through academics and the second is through living with people or being with people.

“Third, he said you do both so that you have a more rounded understanding of where you are coming from, and the same was his views on politics. He simply said one day when we were in school that if you go without studying and proving yourself, they will tell you since you had nothing to do you got into politics and that should not be your Hallmark.

“You have to work hard and you have to prove yourself well. We are carrying ourselves very differently for our community, which is “backwards,” so he says that should not be the case.”

In Jabalpur, The New Indian team also met Union Minister Prahlad Patel’s wife Pushpalata Singh Patel who shared the pride of being married to a man who became the youngest MP, making his entry into the Limca book of records.

She said, “When I married him, he had already contested in two elections. When he fought in 1989, he became the youngest MP and got his name mentioned in the Limca Book of Records. Then he fought in 1991 but since it was the time when Rajiv Gandhi died, he lost. Then we got married. After that, he fought from Shivni constituency twice. Following he contested from Chhindwara, then Balaghat and now twice from Damoh.”



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