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India growing but concentrating wealth towards ‘very few people’: Rahul Gandhi

Drishti Mail, New Delhi: India was no longer running a free and fair democracy, said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in an interaction with students of Harvard University and expressed concerns regarding its economic growth that had “only concentrated wealth in the hands of the few”.

“Whenever you talk about economic development, you have to ask the question: in whose interests is that economic development taking place? Right next to the figure of growth in India, you have the figure of unemployment in India. So India is growing, but the way it’s growing is by concentrating wealth towards very few people,”said Gandhi, answering a question on the growth of the Indian economy.

“We are operating on a debt sort of model and we are no longer producing. The real challenge in India is how do we set up a production economy that is able to give large numbers of people jobs. We have two or three businesses that are pretty much entire businesses,” he said.

“…We have Mr Adani — everybody knows he is directly connected to the Prime Minister. He owns all our ports, all our airports, our infrastructure, agriculture, mines, and power. That level of concentration—you will get growth, but you won’t get any distribution,” Gandhi claimed.

He claimed that India’s institutions, such as its media, legal system and Election Commission were no longer free and neutral, and this was why he had undertaken the Bharat Jodo Yatra to get his message across to the people of the country.

“You need infrastructure to fight an election. You need free media to fight an election. You need a fair legal system. You need a fair Election Commission, and you need access to finances,” said Gandhi in the interaction with visiting students last week.

Gandhi alleged that his social media handles had been shadow-banned and were “under control”, and that 90% of India’s media is now controlled by three people. These restrictions had compelled him to “walk 4,000 kilometres” for the Bharat Jodo Yatra as it was the only way for him to get his message to the people of India.

“I’ve got a shadow ban 24/7…my Twitter’s under control, my YouTube is under control and I’m not alone,” he said.

He also said that much of India’s growth in recent years had been based on its natural resources and consumption, rather than manufacturing, which was the only industry that could employ the country’s large population.

On his learnings from the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Gandhi said that he had realised that the conventional concept of a politician had “fallen in on itself” and needed to be completely reimagined.

Gandhi said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government is not treating India as a Union of states, but as a nation with “one ideology, one religion, one language”.

The Congress’s vision of India as a Union was based on constant negotiations and conversations between its people, based on democracy, freedom, human rights and a neutral institutional framework while the BJP’s conception of India, is of a nation with “one ideology, one religion, one language” that has no room for negotiations and conversations, said Gandhi.

“We feel if you end the negotiation in India, the conversation between the Union India collapses, India tears itself apart. So you can see that Manipur is burning, and you can see Jammu and Kashmir is burning. You can see Tamil Nadu has a problem…,” he said, adding a “full-scale civil war” is going on in Manipur.

Gandhi further said that India’s partnership with the United States was not contradictory to its relationships with countries like China, Russia and Iran.

When asked about the contrast between individualistic Western philosophies and Indian philosophy, he said that the concept of life and death, which was central to Judeo-Christian philosophy, was immaterial in Indian philosophy. Rather, it emphasised existence based on the flow of energies and connections.

He also emphasised the importance of action rather than just words in communicating with the people and said that though people only remembered a little of what he said during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, they all knew that he had walked 30 km a day for 150 days.

Gandhi said that he had increasingly begun to appreciate the importance of ‘love’ in his political life and how it allowed him to connect with people. According to him, while taking ideas like these to “hardcore political fighters” is not easy, they can be “infused” into organisations.

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