Governance in India always about trying to control: Rahul Gandhi in conversation with Raghuram Rajan

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Updated: Apr 30, 2020 2:17 PM

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi then said that inequality is even visible the way Covid patients are being treated in the country.

Rahul Gandhi said southern states are doing a better job because they are more decentralised. (File pic)

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday made a veiled attack on the Modi government over its handling of the situation arising out of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. During a conversation with former RBI governor and noted economist Raghuram Rajan on reviving the country’s economy, Rahul said “when the system reaches a very high level of inequality, then it simply stops working”.

Lashing out at the government over alleged over-centralisation of power, Rahul said, “There is an element in our governance system which I think is completely different from the United States… Our idea is always one of control. The idea of governance in India is always about trying to control and I think that is one of the challenges that we are facing now,” Rahul said.

“The Covid disease cannot be controlled (like this), it has got to be managed,” he added quickly.

Rahul said what annoys him the most is the level of inequality in Indian society. Comparing India’s social demography with the United States, he said, “This has been the case in India for the last few decades. The level of inequality you see in India, you just cannot see that in the United States.”

Rahul said he always looks at ways to reduce inequality because “I think once a system reaches a very level of inequality, then it simply stops to work”.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, he said, “I like Gandhiji’s line, just go to the back of the line and see what’s going on at the back of the line. This is a very powerful thing for a politician, it’s underrated, but I think that’s where a lot of the insights come in.”

Rahul then said that inequality is even visible the way Covid patients are being treated in the country.

“It is visible in Covid also. I mean, the way India is treating its poor people, the way we are treating our poor people, migrants versus the way the elite is being treated, two completely different ideas, two completely different India,” he said.

Rahul also made a mention of the Panchayati Raj system which his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is credited with introducing. in order to take democracy to the grassroots, he said, “Panchayati Raj has had a huge effect, but I am sorry to say it is in retreat. So, a lot of the forward movement that had taken place on Panchayati Raj, we are sort of moving back to this bureaucratic DM based structure.”

He cited the example of southern states to say they are doing a better job because they are more decentralised. The northern states, he said, “are centralising power and they are taking away power from the panchayats and grassroots organisations”.

Rahul added that there is a trust deficit between the public and system and a sense of fear because nobody knows what next.

“One of the things I am finding during this Covid issue is that the real problem is the trust issue. People don’t quite understand what is going to happen next. So, there is fear in the system,” he said.

Without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party, he said there is divisiveness and hatred in society that disconnects people. “There is an infrastructure of division and an infrastructure of hatred and that causes a big problem,” the Congress leader said.

“There is a new model out, which is the authoritarian model, which is questioning the liberal model. It is a different way of doing work and it seems to be rising in more and more places,” the Wayanad MP said.

He said that there is a lot of social change required in India. A lot of problems are different in different states. Politics of Tamill Nadu, culture of Tamil Nadu is completely different from Uttar Pradesh. “One blanket solution for the whole of India won’t work,” he stated.

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