Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday hit out at the Narendra Modi government, saying there was a contradiction in pushing for start-ups and intolerance.
Rahul Gandhi interacts with NMIMS students
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi today hit out at the Narendra Modi government, saying there was a contradiction in pushing for start-ups and intolerance.
"There is a contradiction in saying ‘I want start-up and I will be intolerant.’ Start ups require a free movement of Ideas. Intolerance curbs a free movement of ideas," he said while interacting with students of the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies here.
His remarks came even as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launched Mr. Modi's ambitious Start Up India mission in New Delhi this morning.
"If I tell you, ‘sorry you are a woman and your place is in the kitchen, I am curbing your ideas and our creativity.’ To me there is a connection between being intolerant and imposing a vision on this country and economic progress and start-ups. People who run start-ups by their very definition are creative people," he said.
"You can’t build the economy on one hand and be intolerant on the other hand. You will see that you will fail in the economy," he said.
Mr. Gandhi said there was a difference between his party's philosophy and that of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
"We feel everyone in India should have an opinion. Everyone should have access to every single thing that is there on offer. For me, I see everyone as an Indian. I don’t see the differences in people and don’t tell people to live their life in a particular way. I would consider it arrogant. I want everyone to live the life the way they want," he said.
"For me there are only Indians. Everyone is allowed to do what they want. I want that movement of ideas. That is where our power is. That’s how we will do better than China. You are taking away India’s most valuable resource when you are intolerant and taking away free movement of ideas. You are taking away India’s soul," he said.
Mr. Gandhi said the ruling dispensation, particularly the RSS, has a very clear idea of what the world should look like.
"There is no sense of discussion. They have a vision for India, which everyone is entitled to have, which in my opinion is a rigid vision. And what experience I have, this country requires flexibility, it requires openness, it requires movement of ideas to succeed," he said.
Mr. Gandhi said there was a lot in the system that needed to be changed and there were a lot of people trying to change it. "And change is not as easy as it looks, at least from where you are sitting," he said.
He told the students that they must realise that things were connected with each other and learn not to draw clear boundaries and label people.
"So I’d say if you want to lead institutions, you want to be flexible, you want to do well, from my experience think about these things.
Don’t put labels on people. Don’t put labels on things. The universe does not have labels. Labels are human inventions," he said.
He spoke about the decentralisation of power in India and the fact that the country's strength in the world had never been military but from the strength of its ideas.
He also mentioned the various steps the Congress-led UPA Government had taken in its ten years in office to develop the country, especially agriculture, and improve the lot of the farmers, which in turn benefitted the entire economy.
He said it was critical that India freed its entrepreneurs, especially the small and medium entrepreneurs and gave them access to credit and freedom from red tape.
To a question, he said he thought politicians should not be involved in the administration of cricket.
Responding to another question, he said he was worried that many schools and colleges did not allow students to challenge and question.
On national security, Mr. Gandhi said then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had, after the November 26, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, consulted experts across the board to fashion India's response to the situation.
He said India had also used the United States and other countries to put pressure on Pakistan and isolate them internationally.
"Now the way they are being handled is ad hoc. I feel like going to Pakistan for a wedding. Pakistan slaps me back. Should we talk or not talk. Maybe we should, maybe we shouldn’t. The problem is that the people who know about these things, and we have the best experts on counter terrorism, on diplomacy, I have worked with them, are not being consulted.
"You have an attack in Pathankot. Who is dealing with the attack? The NSA deals with the attack. It’s not his job. NSA’s job is strategy not tactics. There are people who are masters of tactics. It’s their job. If you let the people who don’t know what to do, do it, you get into a problem. These things are not one-offs. It has a long history. There are professionals who are dealing on this. The Government of India has to rely on them. They have to feel they are listening to us. This is my main issue with the way the government is handling these issues. It’s an event based thing, it is not a strategic thing," he said.