Apart from being the Congress' heir apparent and the vice president of the party, Rahul Gandhi is well-known in India for his weird foot-in-mouth statements. However, Gandhi, who is currently on a US tour, seems to be impressing quite a few people with his well thought out and sensible comments.
On Tuesday, September 19, Gandhi interacted with a few students on the Princeton University in New York and discussed an array of topics such as India-US relations, Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, the hits and misses of the Congress government, and India and China's position in the world.
Speaking about India, he said that job creation remains one of the most important challenges in the country, and admitted that Congress could not do much about the issue, while it was in power. However, he did explain that the Modi-government too has not really been able to deal with this concern and unemployment rates are still quite high in the country.
Gandhi also spoke about Trump and Modi and said that jobs are the reason that the two leaders reached the position that they are in now. "Why Mr Modi and Mr Trump rose is because of jobs. [A] lot of people don't have jobs and they [Modi and Trump] can see [that]," India Today quoted Gandhi as saying. Explaining his point, he said that those who did not have jobs believed that electing Modi and helping the BJP come to power would lead to job creation, something that Congress had failed to do.
"The Congress party was unable to provide them job and now Modi is failing to provide them jobs," Gandhi added. He also appreciated the Modi government's Make in India initiative, but noted that it was not targeted at the right areas.
Touching upon the relations between the United States and India, Gandhi said that there was "a lot of synergy" between the two nations. He also said India and the US have a lot of potential when it comes to creating jobs and boosting the education sector. "So I think a lot of synergy between the two countries. Also historically India has maintained balance (in relationship). So India has had a relationship with China and has had a relationship with Russia. It has had a relationship with the US and both the countries. To me the strategic relationship with the United States is important," he explained.
While he may not have delved deeper into the US-India relations, he spoke at length about what India and China's position in Asia could bring to the world.
"There are two large migrations taking place - one is completely free and the other is centrally controlled. The systems respond differently. India and China are two huge countries that are transforming from agricultural countries to urban modern model countries. And that's a huge chunk of the world population," the Press Trust of India quoted him as saying.
Gandhi also explained that while India and China may have their own ways of functioning and may believe in different things, what they do has an effect on the whole world and is "going to fundamentally reshape the world." Taking a sensible stance, he explained that neither he nor anyone else should really decide whether China should be democratic or not and like India made its choice to be a democratic nation, China made their choice.
"But there is cooperation and there is competition between the two most populous countries of the world. We have to figure out how to get our jobs. We have to basically compete with China," he added.
Before the Princeton University, Gandhi spoke to the students of University of California Berkeley and also met policy experts in Washington DC. The experts told the Hindustan Times that they found the Congress vice-president either "very impressive" or "much more substantive than imagined" or as someone who "spoke very cohesively."
"Most of us were pleasantly surprised," an expert told HT on condition of anonymity.