Priyanka Chaturvedi, Mumbai, September 21:
Many questions were raised by the naysayers about Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s visit to America as an outreach initiative. As the world gets more interconnected through various platforms it becomes imperative to begin conversations with a vast majority of Indians staying overseas. Congress VP realised the need to reach out and connect with India’s extremely influential and vast diaspora and set that idea in motion by appointing Sam Pitroda to head the Indian Overseas Congress. The hugely inspirational Sam Pitroda is credited for bringing the IT revolution to India along with the then Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi’s focus on helping India fulfill its global aspirations—the need to create jobs, skilling our work force, finding new areas and opportunities of employment generation and providing an impetus to India’s entrepreneurial spirit is evident from his various meetings and interactions in the US. In his ‘India at 70’ address to the students of University of California, Berkeley he emphasised “India has triggered a massive process of human transformation. The nature of India’s transformation has now reached a stage where it’s moment is so powerful that it’s failure is no longer an option. Our success impacts the world but should our country fail, it will shake the entire world.” The need to take everyone along in India’s growth story along with respecting India’s core philosophy of peace, brotherhood, non-violence and tolerance is the only way for the country to move forward.
These exchanges in the US also lay down a clear roadmap for the Congress party and like minded allies on the issues it will take to the people in the 2019 elections against the BJP government. The BJP has failed to live up to all the economic parameters that would indicate India’s growing supremacy in the world. The falling GDP growth numbers, shrinking IIP, falling exports, widening CAD gap, the disaster called demonetisation that led to slowing down of the economy drastically and causing huge job losses, the flawed implementation of GST, a tax reform that could have been truly revolutionary is now leading to more complication in the tax system. The much touted Make in India, Skill India, Start Up India have also not inspired enough confidence and ended up as just marketing props for the government. The biggest problem however continues to be the growing joblessness. They say numbers don't lie and these indicators give a clear idea as to how the BJP government continues to fail the country: The labour bureau data shows that job creation is at the lowest in 8 years. Private investment is also not driving growth. In the last three years, Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) as a percentage of GDP was the lowest at 26.9% in 2016-17, this has been lowest since 14 years. The worst hit are medium enterprises where the bulk of the jobs are. Outstanding credit to medium enterprises declined from Rs 1,19,268 crore in July 2015 to Rs 1,00,542 crore in July 2017 — a shrinkage of 16 per cent! Inflation has hit a 5-month high with Retail Inflation (CPI) rising to 3.36 % in August from a year earlier and the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) rose to a 4 month high to 3.24 % from a year ago. The increase of petrol and diesel prices, it has dealt a devastating blow to the savings of the common people by increasing Central Excise duty 11 times in past 3.5 years - 133.47% on Petrol and 400.86% on Diesel.
If one was to combine the economic indicators plus the growing intolerance towards another point of view and the sharp hate-filled schisms being further accentuated for political gains, makes the entire nation susceptible to not growing to its full potential. In the times we live in, as the world looks at the largest democracy to take the lead on the world stage, let us not divert our focus from economic growth which the current government has clearly failed to do. We have proved to the world if we could do it then, we can do it now but for that we must remember this important point that Rahul Gandhi made in his Berkeley address : ‘For everything everyone says about India, there is no democratic country in human history, and I repeat that, there is no democratic country in human history that has raised as many people out of poverty as India has. It is never being done. And we have not done it with violence, we have not done it by killing people, we have done it peacefully together.’
Hence it doesn't’t surprise me when BJP President, their cabinet ministers, spokespersons and all their allies went out of their way to attack his speech. Truth, as always, when spoken with courage of conviction always hurts. BJP’s reaction to the truth of Rahul Gandhi’s words is telling!
(Priyanka Chaturvedi is Congress spokesperson and views expressed are her own)