Newly elected Congress Party President, Rahul Gandhi was on a 2-day visit to Singapore to connect with the Indian diaspora living in Singapore, ahead of the elections to be held in May 2019. In this short trip, he met Prime Minister Lee and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. He held various discussions with Temasek CEO Ho Ching and its board as well as entrepreneurs of Indian origin. The Congress president also had an interactive session with students of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
Addressing a host of issues, concerns and controversies, Rahul came across as a confident, sensible leader with well thought out strategies and an inspiring vision for a new India. He articulated his plan for a modern India outlining a comprehensive plan for Education, Healthcare, IT and connecting the small and medium industries with technology and finance to boost the economy and generate jobs. His idea to focus on the skills of Indian artisans and develop them as industries by connecting them to the whole world is a welcome thought not only to revive the cottage industries but to rightfully give the rich Indian art its rightful place on the world map.
With a global power shift moving towards to the east, he spoke about India’s place in the world political map. “There are two opposing visions of the world right now – American and Chinese. For me, India represents the third vision. Historically, India is a country that has imbibed and embraced diversity. We stood united amongst our differences as Indians. India was a place where everyone felt at home regardless of their religion, caste, and language and now it’s being challenged. We have to become an inspiration again to the world so that these two worlds do not collide. It’s a new paradigm that needs new rules, cooperation, where we need to reorient ourselves from the 20th century and rebuild ourselves.”
It was with a lot of wit and positivity that he handled an irate author and a die-hard Congress fan holding opposing views about the role of Congress post-independence. “You are both going to extremes. I mean give me something in the middle. He’s (author) saying I am the cause of every single problem. And you are saying I’m the cause of every single solution.” said Rahul. “Let me tell you what the truth is. India’s success is huge because of India’s people. However, anybody in this room who thinks that the Congress party is not part of that success…thinks liberalisation wasn’t a success…green revolution was not a success …needs to write a new book.”
A humble, sincere politician without the apparent theatrics of his opponent, full of charm, wit, humour and intelligence, Rahul Gandhi has come a long way. While his critics may tear him to pieces, his vision may need to be more concrete, his political journey may still be full of hurdles – but he surely deserves a chance.