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Updated: April 5, 2013 04:19 IST

Don’t pin your hopes on miracle men, Rahul tells India Inc.

Smita Gupta
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Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addressing CII AGM in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addressing CII AGM in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt.

Rahul Gandhi is not that knight on a white charger who will rescue India, the Congressvice-president — and heir apparent — made clear to India Inc on Thursday. “If you think there is a guy who will come on a horse charging through and set everything right, that is not going to happen,” Mr. Gandhi told a gathering of top Indian industrialists at a meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Nor should the people expect any miracles from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said, a day after the latter — at the same forum — asked industry to keep faith in the government: “If you expect the Prime Minister to solve our problems, it’s not going to happen,” he said amidst a stifled gasp from the audience.

Indeed, Mr. Gandhi — in his marathon 75-minute long interaction — offered no road map, no plan, no solution. He only provided a woolly analysis of the situation in the country, of its many “complexities” that baffled and enraged foreign investors but one which apparently gave Indians an edge when they travelled abroad. He argued that if you can succeed in business in India then you will flourish anywhere, “even on the moon”.

He also made some undiplomatic remarks about China’s centralised hard power, comparing it unfavourably with India’s soft power: as evidence for the latter he cited the popularity of yoga in New York and of Amitabh Bachchan in Spanish nightclubs. China was the dragon, but India was no elephant — it was a beehive, humming with activity.

It was all about unleashing the energies of a billion people, he told industry leaders, not relying on one Rahul Gandhi. In 1991, when he was a student in the U.S., people thought elephants walked on the roads; today, thanks to India Inc, that image of India had changed.

Institutional mechanism

He was critical of government for not having a proper institutional mechanism in it to deal with industry. The system operates informally, where if you are “a friend of Montek [Singh Ahluwalia]” you may be heard, he stressed, adding, “Our political system is not responding [even] to you.”

Mr. Gandhi also regurgitated his pet theories that he trots out on every occasion, whether that is a public rally, party meeting or as on Thursday, at a meeting of captains of industry. The political system is “closed,” it is not responding to the aspirations of the people — whether they are poor, middle class or industrialists, he said. And despite the 73rd and 74th amendment, real decentralisation is still not taking places — Ministers are doing the work that village pradhans should be engaged in. The only new thing, he said, was that he was as concerned about the rich as he is about the poor.

For a man whose party sees him as a future Prime Minister, repeating these grouses in the closing months of a Congress –led government that has been in power for almost nine years at a stretch is brave, especially as it comes in the midst of a sharp economic slowdown. Industry captains might have expected some hope — a follow-up, as it were, to the Prime Minister’s more upbeat speech on Wednesday.

Mr. Gandhi’s interaction was also marked by a studied informality that made the suits gag: after his speech, he offered to answer questions as he paced up and down on the stage. In the end, he did not respond to the two questions posed, on the problems posed by different rules and regulations at the Centre and the States, and the other on whether government, civil society and business could do something about water which had arsenic or uranium in it. Instead, he continued with telling stories about the people he had met on his travels, on the need to devolve power, his experiments with trying to democratise the Youth Congress and his pet peeve — how 5,000 people decide everything in India, and the need to shift the focus from the individual to the hopes and aspirations of a billion Indians.

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I urge Rahul and the industrialists to visit China's industrial fair
held twice a year. They will get the true idea of what Chinese
entrepreneurship is about, never mind what forces shaped it. India
and Indians will not be able to match its ingenuity, creativity and
productivity in another 100 years. So what is the point in pointing
a finger at Chinese central model which delivers and so called
beehive model which does not? We need to import Chinese entrepreneurs
in thousands to improve the situation here if at all we are serious
about development and growth. Till we finally take a plunge in the
Chinese direction, we must continue with petty laggards such as Rahul
Manmohansingh, Mayavati, Mulayam, Nitish, Lalloo, Karunanidhi, and
how can forget Mamta? All these are like heavy shackles tied to the
feet of the Indian elephant. I pity the intellect of those
industrialists praising a person like Rahul for his woolly speech.
They would treat an employee like him as a chaprasi.

from:  prakash
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 16:05 IST

The Congress think tank should have better persons to write these stories and should give "The Scion" enough time to prepare well for these kind of Group Discussions. And not all attenders shoud be allowed to ask questions, only the questions which were sent already and approved by the think tank could be asked.I think that is what is happened really :D

from:  surendran
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 14:37 IST

Rahul Gandhi is not talking about miracles. He is simply begin pragmatic and optimistic. What can a coalition government do with no majority in parliament, not only in India but in any other democratically elected country.
So in the forthcoming elections give an absolute majority and then ask for performance and accountability.
I would rather give a chance to Rahul Gandhi than a Modi.

from:  Raja Ganapathy
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 13:18 IST

India needs leaders who doesn't mull over the problems but needs one
who not only chalks out the solution for problem but also executes
them. People make the nation and their leaders leads the people. One
cannot simply say don't always expect leaders to choose the right way.
We are talking about leaders, a team to lead the nation not an
individual. It is ironical that one of the leaders say don't pin hope
against us.

from:  Raven
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 12:51 IST

We must appreciate Rahul for his sincerity and openness in painting a bold and real picture of India Ina.Only few people expect Rahul to don the role of a Robinhood in Indian politics right now as time is not ripe for it.His long, tiresome speech also reveals the fact that India needs to be turned upside down and purged out and
out.It also tells us that Rahul is no novice or still wet behind the ears.But he is in no hurry to sit in the saddle of power at the centre. Rahul is wise enough to allow his opponents like Modi and other to exhaust their arsenals first.In a nutshell, his speech tells us that his 2014 elections agenda would include all the items figured in his speech and he is prepared to sit in the Opposition benches if
time demands.

from:  M.SOMASEKHAR PRASAD
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 11:36 IST

Solution to India's problems lies in splitting the problems into
pieces and solving them. In other words more federal form of govt,
revenue sharing with states, more power for state governments.

1. 40% of central revenue from a state should go to that state
2. 40% of central revenue from a state should go central government
3. Remaining 20% should go a trust fund which can support Union
Terrirtories and States with no resources to self sustain.
Failing states will realize their responsibility if this model is
thrust on them.
The thought that central government has more wisdom than state
governments isn't true anymore.

from:  Ganapathi S
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 11:18 IST

While the FM and PM are doing their best possible to attract foreign investment across
sectors to boost investment and business, Rahul's assessment- may be true, in his own
wisdom and according to vital information available to hiim- that if one can succeed in
business in India, he can flourish anywhere, " even in the moon", must have come as a
shocker. It would be interesting to know the response PM and FM to what the VPof the
Congress party has said .

from:  Shekar
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 10:07 IST

In other words, he is advising everyone to lower their expectations thus avoiding disappointment when he is foisted on the nation as the next PM. Well played sir, very well played ......

from:  Saravanan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 10:02 IST

Rahul Gandhi is the son of the most praised Rajiv Gandhi.His first
maiden speech does not live upto his father's reputation.. He has
asked many questions and has not answered to it.He has made a speech
that resembles a ceo of a company. He has not made anyone understand
the situation today and what Congress is planning to do to improve the
situation. Comparatively, modi has proved himself by designing Gujrat
in his tenure. The first speech of Mr. Gandhi proves his immaturity
and the lack of understanding the politics. Everyone knows that the
Prime Minister cannot shoulder all the responsibility and change the
whole nation in a day. But he can help in the progress of the
nation.That is what the public feels Mr. Singh lacks in.

from:  Archana
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 09:47 IST

If India wants to make it on its own, he is giving the right advice. Very often the
assumption of responsibilities out of sympathy for the unwilling and the semi literate
masses exacerbate problems for the society by making them permanent dependents
less willing to participate in development. Though initially it will be hard it is the only
way up. We have to trust our own people. But caste is always going to be the main
hinderance.

from:  nmantri
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 09:36 IST

Somehow I feel Rahul is laying bare the reality and the constraints in India. Though they are in power, Congress had to attend to the pressures of the allies and the opportunistic opposition. When all the people are selfish: each ally wanting benefits for his/her state and BJP stalling parliament - the ruling party was trying to move forward with compromises. (Not to mention compromises within the party - where politicians are not really the great leaders serving people: Naraynaswamy, Beni, Digvijay, Khurshid . In such a scenario the best way to improve is through institutional mechanisms. It will definitely improve the situation. Though it will be slow indeed. Rahul might not be the best but neither is Modi. But those are the options we have. And we have to work the best with what we have.

from:  Venkat
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 09:31 IST

The so claimed future of India has no clarity or plan of action. Just
reiterating the facts and stating one's views does not make someone a
viable leader. It requires a good analytical mind, creative thing,
positive attitude and fearlessness.The leader should try and show some
degree of positiveness however bleak the situation is, by citing
solutions to the problems. Sticking to just stories that have been
repeated endlessly just shows his lack of substance. We definitely
deserve better.

from:  rama krishna
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 07:01 IST


It is really fair to call a spade as spade.It needs a lot of courage to speak the TRUTH.

from:  Pandharpurkar Tilak Sharma
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 06:53 IST

It shows how unsuitable he is for taking on the mantle. Not that the mantle is now doing any good. And of course, his elocution skills.. deplorable. Ugh! How could anyone envisage him as a prospective future leader.

from:  Thiagaraj S
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 06:41 IST

Looks to me like Rahul just handed Modi the next prime
ministership.

from:  YL Chang
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 06:22 IST

also, don't pin your hopes on dynasties

from:  s subramanyan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2013 at 05:46 IST
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