Any celebration of Ahmedabad’s heritage as an icon of peace and unity (of Hindu, Muslim and Jain traditions) must be understood in light of the city’s profound anti-Dalit and anti-Muslim violence.
In July 2017, in recognition of its ‘universal value’, Ahmedabad became the first Indian city to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage City. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and citizens alike wasted no time in expressing their pride and joy. The mainstream media has echoed their justification of the syncretic Jain, Islamic and Hindu heritage of the pols (neighbourhoods) in the walled city, as well as the proximate connection to Gandhian politics as accounting for Ahmedabad’s universal value.
Ahmedabad’s inclusion is part of UNESCO’s race to rectify its racism, since a vast majority of UNESCO heritage sites are in Europe.