Unemployment leading to anger, hate & unrest, says Rahul Gandhi
In a rare interview
with Editor-in-Chief Neelabh Mishra, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi
singles out unemployment & steady exodus of people from rural areas to
cities as the biggest challenge
It was a hot, May
morning when the Congress Vice President invited us for a chat. We scrambled.
Photo Editor Pramod Pushkarna had just returned from his morning walk. Editorial
colleague Vishwadeepak, a night bird, had just woken up. But we made it on
time. At the appointed hour Rahul Gandhi walked in dressed in a casual off
white shirt and blue jeans, followed by two playful canine companions, who sat
down quietly at his feet as we began the conversation. They would look up every
now and then, demanding a pat or a light touch from him. He exuded warmth and
playfulness, a smile lighting up his face occasionally. But for the most
duration he was thoughtful, replying to questions without hesitation and with a
bluntness that caught us by surprise. What did he think of India and its
challenges 70 years after Independence? Here are replies to some of the
questions we put up to him.
What in your view are
the big challenges facing the country today?
The biggest challenge is dangerously clear: not enough jobs
are being created. Today, China has become the most efficient job producer in
the world- over 12 million new jobs each year for the last five years. Neither
the West nor India has developed a response to this challenge. Young people are
asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi what happened to his promise his countless
promises, almost every second sentence of the Prime Minister is a feverish
promise of creating two crore jobs a year? Yet all the PM has given India is
the highest level of unemployment we’ve faced in the last five years. One or
two lakh jobs per year, is simply not enough to meet the aspirations of our
Doesn’t growth in
joblessness put us at some kind of risk of social unrest as we are witnessing?
Not some kind of risk, it puts us in a very alarming state
of vulnerability. In the last 40-50 years, both India and China have witnessed
a massive population shift from rural to urban areas.
People from villages have been migrating in large numbers to
towns and big cities, hoping for a better life and better job opportunities .
This transition is a terrifying experience because once people arrive in the
city, they find that they have no access to jobs, education or healthcare.
They have left their village behind; their social groups,
solidarity networks and friendships are gone. They have no way of going back
because their home and their agriculture have been destroyed in order to pave
their way to the city. All that was familiar to them is lost. Imagine the
tremendous anxiety and fear that these internal migrants face it’s shattering.
The ideology that drives PM Modi, the RSS and BJP uses this
anxiety and insecurity to spread anger and hatred. They convert this anxiety into
hatred against Muslims, Dalits, other minorities and marginalized people
forcing two people brothers with common interests and dreams to go into combat with
each other. But anger and hatred will not convert into jobs, or solutions. Once
this engine of hatred starts, you cannot control it.
The PM has clearly demonstrated that he is not interested in
halting this hatred, rather he feeds off it. In his speeches, he tells the
people that India was the greatest country 5,000 years ago. With great vigour
he speaks of mythical flying chariots, ancient plastic surgery and genetic
science. Our PM repeats again and again that the future is in the past. But you
cannot build a nation on memory alone. We need imagination to move forward. Where
is the imagination for India now? I see neither a vision nor compassion
anywhere in this present government.
But was the UPA
government able to cope with this challenge?
The UPA built an architecture to ease the pain of this
transition by creating a safety net of protection around every citizen,
designed to peacefully take the country forward. It had components such as
MGNREGA a job guarantee of a minimum 100 days in a year. A young man who
uprooted his life to transition to the city was not abandoned, left without
hope or opportunity with the safety net of MGNREGA supporting him. Right to Food
was to provide food security for everybody so no child in our country lay down
at night hungry. Right to Education gave people a future: the hope that their
children would have access to good quality education. Right to Information was
to ensure transparency and freedom of access.
Ultimately the aspirations that our own policies unleashed overran
the ability of the architecture to deliver creating and stabilising such large
infrastructure takes time but directionally it was the way forward. I am happy
to see that over the last three years despite their loud and critical speeches,
the BJP government may have changed some of their names, but it has not been
able to shut down the UPA’s flagship programsMGNREGA, UID, RTI, RTE, RTF.
What is your vision
for the Congress Party?
The Congress Party sees politics as a process. It is a
consensusmaking structure that allows conversations to thrive by bringing in a
large number of voices. It is designed for listening. It is perhaps the only
party that has changed itself continually according to the needs of the times.
A party that gave the country bank nationalisation also liberalised the economy
two decades later.
We were successful because we listened to the people. This
is at the core of the Congress culture, we listen to the people and make
The BJP talks but they cannot think. Worse, they refuse to
listen. For a people so entrenched in the past and so frightened of the future,
they don’t realise that gradually people will run out of patience for their
hollow words and unfulfilled promises.
What is your idea of
development? What should be a balanced approach to it?
The current government has a very narrow, personal idea of development.
For them giving benefits to a handful of people and business cronies is
development of the whole country. For me inclusiveness is a priority. I take
inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi. The welfare of the last man is the only
parameter for me.
But how will the Congress deal with damage that has already
been done and change the current narrative?
I am a believer. I believe in the resilience of our country.
The idea of India is at its core about forgiveness and embracing difference.
And that is the fundamental idea of Hinduism too. Gandhi’s credo was I embrace
and I forgive. He did not hate anyone, not even the British. He refused to give
in to anger. People ask me what is Congressiya? A true Congressperson is
someone who cannot carry hatred or anger, and loves and respects the plurality
of our nation. Hate can only distract India from the real task at hand.
Courtesy: National Herald