India a ‘beehive’ of energy,Rahul Gandhi tells leaders of industry

Rahul identified health,education and infrastructure as the three big deficits for the economy.

Written by ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Published: April 4, 2013 12:02:54 am

Comparing India’s energy with a beehive,Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi told industrialists his diagnosis of the problems the country faced,but offered few solutions for them.

In his first meeting with India Inc,Rahul identified health,education and infrastructure as the three big deficits for the economy. He also said the aspiration level in India has spread to even the poorest sections and challenged corporates to find ways to connect with these.

In what is being seen as a veiled attack on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi,Rahul highlighted the dangers of exclusion — be it of women,Dalits,poor or the minorities. “When you play the politics of alienating communities,you stop the movement of people and ideas. When that happens we all suffer. Businesses suffer and the seeds of disharmony are sown and the dreams of our people are severely disrupted,” he said,adding that faster economic growth was possible under the UPA as the government tried to reduce communal tensions and fostered harmony.

The seats at the special plenary session of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) were taken far before the Rahul’s arrival. Besides industrialists,diplomats from several nations were also present.

Rahul dismissed as “irrelevant” talk about him being a prime ministerial candidate,as well as questions on his marriage. In the hour-long interaction where he also took two questions from the audience,Rahul spoke about some personal experiences,such as traveling on the Gorakhpur Lokmanya Tilak Express,that helped shape his belief system.

He repeatedly returned to his pet theme of inclusive growth,saying that harnessing the energy of those left behind will make business feel like riding an energy wave. “Millions of Indians are brimming with energy. We are now sitting on an unprecedented tide of transformation. This tremendous movement of people and ideas are going to define this country in the 21st century,” he said. He also complimented corporates for their achievements despite the complexity of India.

Rahul invited the industry to “unleash opportunities” and help build a “brave empowered India” by creating jobs and investing in infrastructure as the political system has become “clogged” and is not responding.

Pointing out that there can be no movement of people and ideas if roads have potholes or break down in six months,he said the government cannot build all the infrastructure alone. “It has to be built jointly,and together we will find the models where capital is used efficiently and without delays. And it is critical that the business environment for the creation of this dynamic infrastructure is stable and predictable,” he said.

Rahul emphasised on the need to build knowledge infrastructure in the country as “a large part of our education and training are based on defunct ideas”. He also invited industry to help impart skills. “Our problem is not joblessness. It is lack of training and skill,” he said,adding that the country’s knowledge,education and skills must meet global standards.

But while his speech was termed “inspiring” by much of his audience,Rahul chose to stay away from more contentious issues such as corruption,economic growth or environmental sustainability.

“It was a very good speech. His ideas are brilliant. Industry has to see how it can work with the government. We should work in unison for greater progress,” said Adi Godrej,president,CII.

But others such as former Infosys director T V Mohandas Pai said,“He spoke from the heart on many challenges …but (what) I would like from him is a solution.”

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