Rahul Gandhi says divisive forces ruining India's reputation

India's reputation being ruined by divisive forces: Rahul Gandhi
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday that India's most important asset was the peaceful co-existence of its 1.3 billion people but this was now being challenged by forces in the country that are dividing its people.
"It is very dangerous for the country and it ruins our reputation abroad," he said in his address to the Indian  National Overseas Congress at the Marriott Marquis at Times Square here, in remarks that were seen as a veiled criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"India has always shown the world  how to live in harmony. For thousands of years India has had a reputation of peace and harmony. This is being challenged," he said.
"Many, many people in the Democratic party and the Republican party asked me what is going on in your country?  We always believed that your country worked together, we always believed your country was peaceful. What is going on in your country?" he said.
"And that is something we have to fight. India’s reputation in the world is very important. The world is transforming and people are looking towards us. China is rising, we have a relationship with the Unites States . Many countries in a violent world are looking to India and saying maybe, India has the answer to the 21st century. Maybe India has the answer for peaceful coexistence in the 21st century. So, we cannot afford to lose our most powerful asset. Our most important asset is that 1.3 billion people lived happily, non-violently,  peacefully and the world respected us for that . This is something that as Congress people every single one of us has to defend. 
"India is a country that belongs to all its people. Doesn't matter who they are  I can see my Sikh brothers, people from different states. India does not belong to any one of you. India belongs to this entire room and India belongs to every single one of us and that is what the Congress party is," he said.
Among those present at the event was former Telecom Commission Chairman Sam Pitroda, who helped usher in the telecom revolution in India in the 1980s, and former Union Minister Milind Deora.
The event was one of Mr. Gandhi's last engagements during a tour of the United States during which he, among others, addressed students and faculty members at University of California, Berkeley and Princeton University, New Jersey and interacted with think tanks, policy makers, political leaders and journalists.
At the Times Square event, Mr. Gandhi spoke about the difficulties then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had to face in introducing computers in a big way in India in those years.
"Ideas take time to travel into India. But, when an idea is good, India understands it very quickly, and uses it and shows the world how it can be used," he said.
Mr. Gandhi told the gathering, consisting mainly of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs), that the original Congress movement was an NRI movement, pointing out that leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehtra, Bhimrao Ambedkar, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel were all NRIs.
"Every single one of them went to the outside world, saw the outside world, returned back to India and used some the ideas they got and transformed India. I’ll go even further, the biggest success in India, our friends in BJP said nothing happened, but one of the biggest successes in India, the milk that most of India drinks, it was a man called Mr. (Verghese) Kurien, he was an NRI. He came from the United States and he transformed India. Sam is another example. There are thousands of examples that we have not recognised. So before I even get into the depth of my speech, I want to tell you that I went from San Fransisco to Los Angeles to Washington to New York, I addressed people in Berkeley,in Princeton, and wherever I went, you made me feel poud to be an Indian," he said.
"Everywhere you look in this country, there is an Indian person working for America, working for India, living peacefully and building this country and our country. So I would like to start by telling you, that you are actually the backbone of our country. Some people view India as a geophraphical construct. They view India as a piece of land. I don’t view India as a piece of land. I view India as a set of ideas. So for me, anybody who has the ideas that make up India is an Indian.
"We have many religions in our country. We have many different languages in our country. Every single one of them lives happily together, and the reason they have been able to do so are the ideas of the Congress party. Sam Pitroda just said that the Congress is a hundred and thirty years old. Yes, it is true, the Congress organisation is more than a century old. But, the Congress idea in India is thousands of years old. We don’t represent an organisation, we represent a philosophy that is thousands and thousands of years old. I’ll tell you a little but about what this philosophy is. What did Gandhi actually fight for, what was our freedom movement about, what did Mr. Kurien do? What did Sam Pitroda do? What do thousands of NRIs do? They stand up for the truth. It doesn’t matter what is standing against them, when they believe in something and they are convinced that is the truth they stand up for it and pay the price for it. That is the Congress idea," he said.
"I had lots of conversations in my trip. I met lot of people from the administration, I met people from both democratic and republican parties, I met many friends, NRI friends.And I must tell you, I was very surprised because before I could even tell them what I was feeling, before I could even tell them what I was worried about, they told me exactly the same thing. And the single biggest thing most people told me, What has happened to the tolerance that used to prevail in India? What has happened to the harmony in India?" he said.
Mr. Gandhi said the single biggest challenge India is facing today was of providing jobs to its youth.
"I’ll give it to you in numbers. 30,000 youngsters come into the job market every single day. Today, only 450 of them are getting a job. I’m not even talking about the unemployed.
"This is the biggest challenge in front of our country. And, this challenge is going to be addressed by building a unified approach by bringing people together.
"We discuss everything in India. There’s a divisive politics in India but the real challenge facing India is that 30,000 youngsters looking for a job and only 450 getting a job. You can imagine as this process continues what the result will be. India simply cannot give its youngsters a vision if it is unable to give them a job. 
"The Congress party has a vision to solve this problem. And I will tell you little bit about this vision. Currently, the entire focus is on 50 or 60 really large companies. We believe that if you are to create millions and millions of jobs in India, it has to be done by empowering small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs," he said.
He said the second major challenge was in the agricultural sector. "I’ll give you another number, 40% of India’s vegetables rot. Agriculture can simply not be ignored. There are people from Punjab here, you will understand exactly what I am saying.
"Agriculture is a strategic asset. We need to build agriculture, we need to develop a cold chain, we need to put food processing units close to farms, and we need to empower Indian agriculture. We need to empower our farmers," he said.
"Healthcare is going to transform. And I said this in my speech in Berkeley, today all the information in healthcare is in the doctors' memories. Tomorrow all that information is going to be in computers. India has the world’s second largest population. We do very large number of surgeries, heart surgeries, eye surgeries, we have a great understanding of how to do these things. There is a huge opportunity for India in healthcare and we can become the healthcare centre of the world but we have to plan for it today. And I am not talking about simply health tourism, I’m talking about about constructing whereby in the future large parts of medical processes are carried out in our country.
"I can give you a similar vision for the IITs. I went to Berkeley, I was in Princeton yesterday. US universities are networks, knowledge networks. Information travels within them, they are connected to businesses, they are connected to economy. Our IITs are tremendous institutions but they are not networks. If we connect  our IITs to our industries and businesses across the world, they will start to compete with the best businesses in the world. these are things that can be done.
"I want to go back to the beginning of my speech. You need to get involved. You have tremendous knowledge, You have tremendous understanding, you work in different fields. I invite you to come and work with the congress party and discuss the vision going forward. We want to take your help. Sam Pitroda single handedly transformed the telecom industry.  We don’t want one Sam Pitroda. We want atleast 10-15 Sam Pitrodas to transform India, Because there’s a lot of work to be done in India." he added.


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