"...India exports brains. So it is such a sin to have so many children illiterate and locked out of school."

Despite having achieved independence from the British, India has still has not been able to achieve socio-economic equality, noted American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson said at an event at the Netaji Museum here on Tuesday. “In some sense the fact remains that India is free but not equal.”

Rev. Jackson worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King junior during the African American Civil Rights Movemen and is a former Democratic Party presidential nominee.

In terms of intellectual achievements in science and economy India was the leading force in the world, the reverend said. “India is number one in technology, in having most billionaires in one country, in economic growth and exporting talent around the world.” Scientific research in the USA is largely driven by Indian scientists; Microsoft is led by an Indian, Rev. Jackson said. “Some countries export oil as their major contribution, some export timber and agricultural products. India has been exporting brains India’s number one product are strong minds in the scientific field that can make a contribution to saving India and the world. That is all the more reason why the exclusion of some children from school and thereby leaving them no choice but to become illiterates is such a sin.”

He asserted that poverty was one of the root causes of terrorism, which is designed to instill fear in the minds of people. They are afraid of dying before the age of five, of never having access to education and of never having the opportunity to earn a livelihood. “Poverty breeds terrorism. It breeds fear. Terrorism is designed to make people afraid … The perpetual cause of terrorism is bred by poverty that is why there must be focus on the issue. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction because it kills en masse. It drives infant mortality, short life expectancy, it saps the spirit, weakens the body, it saps the resolve and it destroys dreams.”

“The unfinished business of the Indian liberation struggle,” the civil rights icon said, “… is freedom from poverty.”

India and the U.S., despite being the largest democracies in the world, suffer from the menace of social and economic inequality, he added.

Emphasising the need to “democratise the economy,” Rev. Jackson said until this goal was achieved, the task of those who were struggling for equality would remain unfinished.

On India’s struggle for freedom, he said that though the role of Mahatma Gandhi received much attention around the world, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s contribution was a “huge missing part of what happened.” India, Rev. Jackson said, was both by means of non-violent struggle and military resistance to occupation and both had a role to play in India’s independence from colonial rule. “Mr. Gandhi by his single strength proved that wars can be won with minimum weapons. But that minimum part was added by Mr. Bose.”

He emphasised the need to explore how Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, despite their different paths of action, had the same goal of liberating India from the chains of British colonialism.

Mandela’s struggle

Rev. Jackson also stressed the significance of Nelson Mandela’s role as a military commander of an armed group agitating against apartheid South Africa. “We must know about the role of Mandela as military commander, the role of Mr. Gandhi as an ally of Mr. Bose and how they complemented each other.” Both the Mahatma and Netaji believed that democracy should start from the grassroots and should provide equal rights to everyone, Rev. Jackson said.

Correction

>>American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson was not a former Democratic Party Presidential nominee as reported in “India free but not equal: Jesse Jackson” (Feb. 26, 2014). However, he had run for Democratic Party Presidential nomination.

The misattribution was also found in the caption of a standalone photograph – “Jesse Jackson is here” (Feb. 25, 2014, some editions) – showing him visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kolkata.