Rahul Gandhi comes into his own at Berkeley

Congress VP Rahul Gandhi’s UC Berkeley address reveals a statesman who understands the chemical properties of words and dimensions of deeds. He believes India is at a crossroads under the Narendra Modi government, where she could either nonviolently fulfill her potential as the engine of the world, or in attacking her own diversity be diminished in immunity and unity feeding global security.

Rahul Gandhi speaks of the aboriginality of India’s homespun liberals. He likens liberals to Andaman’s tribals, who due to their indigenous knowledge survived the horrific tsunami of 2004, while settlers and tourists did not.

Mr. Gandhi described how tribals knew to retreat when the sea went out in the minutes before the towering waves cannibalised the islands. It seemed almost a parable that the settlers and tourists ignored their counsel in favour of catching fish stranded on the beach, and soon perished. Mr. Gandhi maintains Indian liberals, like the tribals, are possessed with the prescience that something has gone dangerously wrong in the system after the Modi wave despite its lofty promises. Indian liberals are raising the alarm that we in India must beat a hasty retreat in 2019 lest the buildup of hate and the saffron brigade’s march of violence and majoritarianism wipe us out.

Many of our countrymen may be tempted by the easy answers of the BJP/RSS and the maya of their material pledges to adopt their treacherous roadmap. Mr. Gandhi recommends we should chart our trajectory together using the fertile and fraught liberal ideology. Unlike the Sangh’s dangerously simplistic answers which encourage resource-grabbing competition between communities, the Congress’ liberal peace is collaborative and characterised by an argumentative democracy and receptiveness to noisy narratives from every section of society.

Like his father, Rahul attributes the survival of India, despite the bleak forecasts of the twentieth century that she would be torn to pieces by her own diversity, to nonviolence. Swayed neither left nor right by political fashions, he evokes Indira Gandhi’s determination that India should stand straight and tall! The national commitment to nonviolence has treated Indian diversity with the dignity it deserves and is responsible for 29 multi-lingual, multireligious and multicultural states to be willingly bound together in federation. Ahimsa has enabled India to transcend her condition at independence where 400 million of us fed our starving frames on the conviction that we would thrive together! Mr. Gandhi is firmly opposed to Modi’s authoritarian tilt towards “expert” unilateral decisionmaking.

In stark contrast to the West’s attitude that an individual has an idea, the hubris of which has spurred it to spurious and violent grand experiments, Rahul Gandhi speaks of India’s Gandhian mindset that “ideas have people.” He says, ‘The common conception in the West is that people have ideas. But there is an alternative way of looking at the world, which is the notion that instead of people having ideas ideas have people. So, instead, if I have an idea, an idea has me. This notion is the basis of ahimsa or non violence as taught by Gandhi.’ He expressed pride and gratitude that our pioneers’ believed nonviolence the only means by which the right ideas galvanise communities. This makes India the only democracy in the world to raise 100 million out of poverty, without deploying fear and coercion!

Rahul Gandhi cautions India’s silent, liberal majority against reciprocating BJP’s hate and violence as it would only act as a force multiplier of their bad ideas. He urges love and compassion as weapons of persuasion. Despite nonviolence being the only idea humanity can truly rally behind to come out of the twenty-first century unscathed, it is under vicious attack in the country of its origin. Every time BJP and their sympathisers shoot liberal journalists, commit casteist atrocities, lynch minorities for their dietary choices and livelihoods, their loved ones take up their resistance to fascism. Yet Mr. Modi’s politics of hate must not continue, as it makes people believe they have no future in their own country, rendering them vulnerable to radicalisation.

Mr. Gandhi recognises India’s non violence has been harnessed into hard economic power. Congress, within one generation, increased India’s literacy, expanded healthcare, raised life expectancy, and attained food security. Our acceptance of diversity and daring dexterity allowed India to assume a dominance in information technology while alleviating poverty. While micromanaging BJP leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee preached focusing on the basics, PM Rajiv Gandhi was already championing computerisation and laying foundations for the IITs to become Silicon Valley’s mitochondria! Congress’ liberalisation unshackled India from the hindu rate of growth and enabled rapid lift off!

Mr. Gandhi critiques Modi’s Model of Development which, being fixated by the fortunes of the top 100 companies, has it being complicit in their predatory capture of the market and the banking system. Meanwhile, Medium and Small Enterprises, the bedrock of India’s job creation, struggle obtain credit and enjoy little protection from government-made calamities like being force fed a punitive and hasty GST regime and being purged in their millions overnight by demonetisation at the cost of 2% of our GDP. Mr. Gandhi appeals to PM Modi to refrain from reckless ad hoc decision making and respect the knowledge coded into India’s institutions and processes.

It is chillingly obvious the Modi Model of Development is not delivering, given the government only creates 500 jobs a day while 30,000 youth join the job market every day. Not to change course would be to fail to lift 35 crore people out of poverty by 2030, and to unleash the fury of 17 crore betrayed and jobless youths. Mr. Gandhi remains confident that if India is steered correctly and faithfully, we can achieve the requisite growth of 8% over the next decade and a half and avoid violent economic dislocation. Make In India’s attempt to ape China’s fear-controlled factories must be abolished in favour of creating jobs in a democratic environment where small businesses can flourish.

Despite the best attempts of BJP’s propaganda machinery, Rahul Gandhi demonstrates his readiness to help those who throng around him to lead themselves. His passion for nonviolence, liberalism and democracy make him deserving of the people’s mandate.