India’s global reputation as a peaceful and harmonious nation is being ruined by forces that are dividing the country, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said today. Gandhi, 47, who was in the US on a two-week-long tour, concluded his visit by addressing about 2,000 supporters at a hotel ball room near the iconic Times Square. During the visit, Gandhi interacted with think-tanks students, politicians and academicians in the US to discuss his vision for India. During his address to a gathering of overseas Indians, Gandhi said: “India has always shown the world how to live in harmony. For thousands of years, India has had a reputation of peace and harmony. This is being challenged.” “There are forces in our country that are dividing it. And it is very dangerous for the country and it ruins our reputation abroad,” he said.
Gandhi said during his US visit he interacted with many people from the Democratic and the Republican parties who asked him what was going on in India. Asserting that India’s reputation in the world is very important, Gandhi said the world was transforming and the people were looking towards India. “Many countries in a violent world are looking towards India and saying maybe India has the answer for the 21st century. May be India has the answer for peaceful co-existence in the 21st century. So we cannot afford to lose our most powerful asset,” said the Congress leader.
India’s most powerful asset is its 1.3 billion people living happily, nonviolently and peacefully, he said. “And the world respected us for that. India is a country that belongs to all its people,” he said. Sharing his experience about the trip, Gandhi said the most of the people he met in the US asked him “what has happened to the tolerance that used to prevail in India”. “I must tell you, I was very surprised because before I could even tell them what I was feeling, before I could even tell them what I was worried about, they told me exactly the same thing,” he said. “We discussed everything in India. There is a divisive politics going on in India. But the real challenge facing India is out of 30,000 new youngsters coming in, 450 are getting a job. You can imagine as this process continues, what the result will be,” Gandhi said.
Asserting that the original Congress movement was an NRI (non-resident Indian) movement, Gandhi urged the diaspora in the United States to come forward with their ideas for another movement of transforming the country. “Mahatma Gandhi was an NRI. Jawaharlal Nehru came back from England. Ambedkar, Patel, Maulana Azad, everyone of them went to the outside world, saw the outside world, returned to India and used some of the ideas that they had got and transformed India,” Gandhi said. “And wherever I went, you made me feel proud to be an Indian,” Gandhi said as he praised the Indian community’s contribution to the country’s progress. “So, I would like to start by telling you, that you are actually the backbone of our country,” he said. He said his Congress Party represented a philosophy that is thousands and thousands of years old.