‘DNA of tolerance’ disappearing in India, U.S.: Rahul Gandhi

Screenshot from a video tweeted by Rahul Gandhi shows Congress leader during a virtual conversation with former U.S. diplomat and Harvard professor Nicholas Burns. Photo: Twitter/@RahulGandhi  

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in conversation with former United States diplomat Nicholas Burns on Friday, said the ‘DNA of tolerance’ that India and the U.S. had was disappearing and those responsible for divisions in society were now claiming to be nationalists.

Mr. Burns, who is currently a professor of practice of Diplomacy at Harvard’s John F Kennedy school of government, said the COVID-19 pandemic was an opportunity for the G-20 countries to work together on development of vaccines but world leaders proved to be disappointing,

Mr. Burns also talked about the current unrest in his country. He termed the killing of African-American George Floyd “horrible.”

“Our greatest, I think, American of the last 100 years is Martin Luther King Jr. He fought battles.. peaceful, non-violent battles. Of course, you know his spiritual idol was Mahatma Gandhi... King led us to become a better country. We elected an African-American President Barack Obama, a man I deeply respect. And yet you see race come back now,” he said.

“You see African-Americans being mistreated. This horrible murder of George Floyd, this young African-American man by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We have millions of Americans trying to protest peacefully, as is our right... as is your right in India, and yet the President [Donald Trump] treats them all like terrorists,” he observed.

In the backdrop of the anti-racist protests in the U.S., Mr. Gandhi noted that the DNA of ‘open tolerance’ in both the countries was disappearing. “Our DNA is supposed to be tolerant. We’re supposed to accept new ideas. We’re supposed to be open, but the surprising thing is that DNA, that open DNA, is sort of disappeared. I mean, I say this with sadness that I don’t see that level of tolerance that I used to see. I don’t see it in the United States and I don't see it in India”.

He said, “When you divide African Americans, Mexicans and other people in the United States, so you divide Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs in India, you’re weakening the structure of the country. But then the same people who weaken the structure of the country say they are the nationalists”.

While India and the U.S. shared a broad partnership earlier, now it was “transactional and episodic”, he added.

Mr. Burns, who was one of the key negotiators in the signing of the India-U.S. nuclear deal, said though the world was going through a tough time, countries with democratic traditions would bounce back.

In a screenshot from a video tweeted by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, former U.S. diplomat and Harvard professor Nicholas Burns is seen during a virtual conversation with Mr. Gandhi. Photo: Twitter/@RahulGandhi

In a screenshot from a video tweeted by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, former U.S. diplomat and Harvard professor Nicholas Burns is seen during a virtual conversation with Mr. Gandhi. Photo: Twitter/@RahulGandhi  


Expressing his disappointment over lack of cooperation between world powers on COVID-19, he said, “You know, this crisis was made for the G20. It was made for Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping and Donald Trump to be working together”.

He noted, “I would have predicted that countries would have put down their differences and worked for a vaccine together or how to distribute that vaccine in an equitable and humane fashion and it hasn't happened. Mainly because Donald Trump doesn't really believe in international cooperation. He's a unilateralist. He wants America to go it alone in the world. And Xi Jinping shows to compete with Trump”.

Indian Americans’ contribution

Recalling the contribution of the Indian American community in the U.S., Mr. Burns said that though the Republicans and the Democrats could not agree on a single thing, there was agreement on having better relations with India.

“I still think that finding a way for Indians and Americans and our governments to combine forces to promote human freedom, promote democracy, promote rule of the people in the world. I think that is a powerful idea that Indians and Americans can bring together to the rest of the world. Again, you know, we are not looking for a conflict with China, but we are waging in a way, a battle of ideas with China”, he pointed out.

Asked for this battle of ideas with China, Mr. Gandhi said, “We can't have an authoritarian perspective internally and then make that argument.”

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 7:29:57 PM |

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