Tuesday, March 21st, 2023 18:57:22

Rahul Gandhi’s US Takeaway

Updated: October 5, 2017 3:57 pm

The Congress men in India were having ecstatic orgasm as reports of their Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s address to academics and students at the prestigious Berkley University said that it was a very substantive speech and it went down very well with the select gathering.

More reports worth celebrating followed as Rahul continued to address crème de menthe in the US, some senators and republicans in Washington, Princeton in New Jersey and the NRIs at Times Square.

It must be conceded that the Pappu in India had definitely incarnated into a politician with some insight into the current state of the country. And what more needs to be done. But one wishes he had stuck to the positives and not talked about negatives. He is an opposition leader and he is within his rights to highlight and orchestrate faults and wrongs of the ruling party but is it ethical to do so in foreign lands? How does it help, it only degrades and defames the country!

Rahul might believe he was being critical of Narendra Modi, but in effect he was tarnishing the prestige of India, which he has to concede has been sky-rocketed by Modi.

He ‘elucidated’ his audience with these black pearls of wisdom, “ I need to tell you what can go dangerously wrong. Our strength so far has been that we have done all this peacefully. What can destroy our momentum is the opposite energy.

“Hatred, anger and violence and the politics of polarisation which has raised its ugly head in India today. Violence and hatred distract people from the task at hand.

“Liberal journalists being shot, people being lynched because they are Dalits, Muslims killed on suspicion of eating beef, this is new in India and damages India very badly.

“The politics of hate divides and polarises India making millions of people feel that they have no future in their own country. In today’s connected world, this is extremely dangerous.

“It isolates people and makes them vulnerable to radical ideas.”

It is not relevant here to discuss whether all that he said was factual or exaggerated, but what we need to analyse is how much potential his negativity has to make the US investors and especially Lockheed and Boeing who are to manufacture fighters and other aircraft in India, rethink their decision to relocate in India.

Once they move here, huge number of jobs will be available. And that is crucial. He himself said in his speech, “the central challenge of India is jobs. Roughly 12 million young people, 12 million, enter the Indian job market every year. Nearly 90% of them have a high school education or less.

Pakistan will liberally cite him and raise the bogey of human rights violations in the valley. Chinese media is already charging India of arrogance.

Dynasts Link with Assassinations

Rahul Gandhi and his advisers should have done their homework better. He could give better example of Dynasties, which would have made the scholarly audience do some profound thinking. Akhilesh Yadav, MK Stalin, Anurag Thakur and Abhishek Bachchan would have been totally unknown to his audience.

South Asia has had many dynasts who are well-known the world over–Bhuttos in Pakistan, the Bandaranaikes in Sri Lanka, in Bangladesh the heirs of Mujib-ur-Rahman and Gen. Ziaur Rahman.

Strangely all these families have suffered assassinations and were part of  with the exception of the Bhuttos, in their country’s freedom  movements. But three of them were assassinated.

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi’s father Aung San, had fought the British, and is called the father of “modern Burma.” He too was assassinated.

Our own Indira and Rajiv Gandhi were assassinated!


It is a pity that after being very positive and substantive he reverted to decrying Modi, his pet aversion. In his defence     of what all Rahul said in  his University of California, Berkeley speech and the question-answer session, a senior political columnist said, he didn’t come across as transcending what the BJP would call the Lakshman Rekha.

“Yes, he was critical of the Prime Minister — but within the marquee of democratic debate that permits contrarian views and policy perspectives. Or else where’s the need for the Opposition as an institution of import. And value.”

But that’s exactly the point. Rahul was not speaking in Parliament or addressing a public meeting in India. As an opposition leader he could attack, criticise or disparage the BJP or Modi per se. But when he addressed audiences in the US was he representing India, the country, or he was acting as a representative of the opposition?

One supposes when abroad, he being a senior political leader who could be prime minister and a scion of the family who ruled for over 47 years, Rahul cannot be anything else than a leader of India. And one who considers all ramifications before speaking. To his credit for major part of his

Berkley address, he was very positive, responsible and substantive. Where he differed from the Government policy, he suggested alternatives which merited thinking about them. For instance he said:

“India needs to turn a colossal number of small and medium businesses into international companies. Currently, all the attention in India is paid to the top 100 companies. Everything is geared towards them.

Banking systems are monopolised by them, the doors of government are always open to them and laws are shaped by them. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs running small and medium businesses struggle to get bank loans. They have no protection and no support. Yet these small and medium businesses are the bedrock of India and the world’s innovation.

Big businesses can easily manage the unpredictability of India. They are protected by their deep, deep pockets and connections. But the real innovative strength of India lies with the millions of small firms and young entrepreneurs that run them…..Jobs in India are going to come instead from small and medium scale industries.

Of Rahul’s Promotion of Dynasts

This is how India is run, Rahul Gandhi said, out of the blue, justifying his likely take—over of the Congress party’s presidency, and also to be anointed prime minister, while addressing an erudite scholarly audience at the prestigious Berkley University. To substantiate his point, he named some dynasties–Akhilesh Yadav became chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, and he also took over the Samajwadi Party from his father, Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s son Stalin is the heir-apparent, super star Amitabh Bachchan’s son Abhishek is also an actor.

Why then after me, he asked and then answered himself, when dynasty is the norm. He failed (deliberately) to mention that Dynast Akhilesh Yadav was rejected by the people and he lost his chief ministership. His heredity did not help. Abhisekh, notwithstanding his father being the tallest in the Indian cinema, has failed to click.

The irony is that in reality the Nehru/ Gandhi Dynasty of which he is the scion, has not been hankered after by the Indian voter after Rajiv Gandhi. During the prime ministerial 10-year term of mauni Manmohan Singh, his mother was the power but she was not de jure prime minister. How could Rahul while illuminating the academics with his pearls of wisdom, ignore the fact that in 2014 his heredity failed to prevent his party from its most ignominious defeat ever—reduced to be a rump of 44 MPs.

It is unbelievable that Rahul, despite repeated defeats in elections, the campaigns for which he, a Dynast, led, had the gall to tell the intellectuals and professors including political scientists, that Dynasty and Dynasts are the norm in India.

One wonders what the thinkers, scientists, analysts and other men of letters must have thought, why Rahul was complaining for being attacked for being a scion of Nehru/ Gandhi dynasty. They can hardly help him.

Or he plans to tell his Indian voters that he told the best brains in ‘amarika’ that he was a dynast but they did not mind it. It did not occur to him that it hardly mattered to them whether he was a dynast or a dinosaur to thm.

IN fact he should be grateful that his audience comprised scholars and men and women who spent most of their waking time browsing tomes in libraries and politics is not their cup of tea. Otherwise they could have picked up holes in his claim that dynastic succession was a norm in India, in most spheres of life. A columnist rightly said that he ‘spoke it in a manner as if dynastic succession was an accepted fact in India, almost a virtue and ‘repeated it three times: “that’s how India runs… that’s how the entire country is running… that’s what happens in India” and added, “the real question is if that person is a capable, sensitive person”.’

How laughable that after drilling in the minds of his audience all the justification for a Dynast to become prime minister, he put forward his claim. ‘The Congress second-in-command thinks for certain that he is a capable and a sensitive person to lead the party and “absolutely ready” to become prime minister of the country.’

“I am absolutely ready to do that (be declared as prime ministerial candidate) but we have an organisational election process that decides and the process is currently ongoing. That decision is something the Congress party should take,” he said. To a supplementary query from the moderator whether he was open to becoming prime minister in future, he said “sure”.

Did Rahul consider the audience at Berkley to be fools, worse imbeciles?  While claiming natural rights of a dynast, he glossed over the fact that India of 2017 had rejected dynasts in politics. And instead India today has all the three persons holding three top constitutional posts President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who are self-made persons. They have risen through the ranks and made it big. None of the four top ministers in government had any political lineage.

BJP president Amit Shah also has risen from the ranks of a humble party worker.

Whatever made him rake up something which even he with his limited ability to grasp nuances in Indian politics must know that Dynasts now are as extinct as Dinosaurs. Did he want to announce his candidature, then it would have been better to do it here, may be at 24, Akbar Road, the HQ of his Party. Or did he want endorsement of American intellectuals? One can never know his mind. But it is interesting to cite what Mint had to say about Dynasts.

“The logic of dynastic politics is the logic of patronage. The dynast trades economic largesse and access to the machinery of the state for long-term fealty.

“Economist Mancur Olson has described it as stationary bandits versus roving bandits. Dynasts are the former. They have incentive to develop their constituencies because they are in for the long haul. The benefits of the development they deliver will be reaped by their descendants in the form of continued loyalty to the dynasty. In contrast, roving bandits—non-dynastic politicians—face a temporal mismatch between effort and payoff. They are thus less likely to work towards long-term development goals.

“That is how it is intended to work in theory, at least—the silver lining to the violation of the egalitarian spirit of a liberal democracy. In practice, however, that is not quite how it works out. A growing body of empirical research shows that dynastic politicians consistently underperform non-dynastic politicians.”

Aren’t we reminded of the scams and disregard of all ethics under the last rule of Dynasts?

A gentle reminder to Rahul that Mundra Bank set up by the government with a fund of Rs25000 crore to help hawkers, kiosk owners and small shopkeepers. Aren’t they small  entrepreneurs?

Rahul advisers could have bring back from the US a basketful of positive takeaway. But they have been guiding Pappu here, they are more comfortable with the Pappu, than Rahul Gandhi, senior political leader.

Politicians are guilty of puffery, near lies, and these are generally ignored. But, Rahul Gandhi told a whopper that cannot be ignored, said Tavleen Singh. At one of the intimate little gatherings he addressed in some American university, he said India’s reputation had been ruined abroad ever since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. It used to be a land of ‘tolerance’ and ‘harmony’ in Congress times, and it no longer is…..Anyone reading ‘list of the incidents of communal violence that occurred in those long decades of Congress rule……dare(not) speak of it having been an era of ‘tolerance and harmony.’

To sum up Rahul could comeback more mature and statesman like if he had stuck to statements like, ”Finally, listening to India is very important. She will give you all the answers that you seek.

“India’s institutions for over 70 years have built a profound understanding of our country. We have experts in every single field.”

According to reports  from the United States, Rahul Gandhi  made quite an impression there, at least in academic, policy and journalistic circles. No wonder.

Congress circles are overjoyed that their young leader is doing well in the US and is getting positive press in India. Ajay Maken got so excited that he attributed the victory of the National Students Union of India in the Delhi University Students Union election to Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Berkeley!

Between the criticisms and cheers that Rahul has been receiving, the stark truth is that Rahul Gaye Amarika will make no difference at the hustings in 2019.

By Vijay Dutt





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