Addresses a packed audience at Iconic Times Square in New York
“The divisive politics was ruining India’s reputation abroad and NRIs in the tradition of the great NRIs before them, should stand up to those dividing India now,” the Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi told a gathering of over 2,000 Non Resident Indians from around the nation at the iconic Times Square in New York City on Wednesday, September 20th, 2017. Gandhi’s call came in an outreach program at the end of his two-week long tour of the United States.
The leader of the oldest and the largest pa5rrty in India spoke on a range of issues including the Indian economy, India’s healthcare system, and the job market. Gandhi, at the event organized by the Indian Overseas Congress, also spoke about the Congress Party’s vision for India’s future and how the NRI community in America could par-take in building that future.
India’s reputation as a country of peace and harmony is in danger abroad because of divisive forces at work at home, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said in a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, and urged NRIs to stand up against “those dividing the country”.
The son of late Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi restated his vision for the country based on the principal themes of jobs, agriculture, education and healthcare, while appealing to the community to come to India and work for the country and the congress party, telling them that non-resident Indians had always played a critical role in India’s progress.
He reminded NRIs as to how Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Abdul Kalam Azad, Sardar Patel and B R Ambedkar were all non-resident Indians, who had brought to India their learnings when hey returned and transformed the country. “You need to get involved, you have tremendous knowledge, tremendous understanding.”
Everywhere he went, Gandhi said, he heard the same concern, from San Francisco, where he began his tour, to Los Angeles to Washington DC to New York. “What has happened to tolerance that had prevailed in India? What is going on in your country,” he said people would ask him. “India has a reputation for peace and harmony…this is being challenged…there are forces that are dividing the country…This is dangerous for the country and ruins our reputation abroad,” he added.
Rahul Gandhi spoke about what he termed as the biggest challenge in India – empowering the youth. “For every 30,000 youngsters entering the job market, only 450 get a job. India cannot give a vision of a future if they cannot give the youth a job. Congress party has a vision, by focusing on building the small and medium businesses and entrepreneurship and creating ‘millions and millions of jobs in India.’” Rahul Gandhi also spoke about universities in India which, he said, need to be connected to the economy and businesses across the world.
Gandhi also praised Sam Pitroda, who was an adviser to his father Rajiv Gandhi and to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as another NRI who through his work on telecommunications helped transform India.
Pitroda, who has taken over the NRI mission of the Congress as the chairman of its Overseas Department, organized Rahul Gandhi’s US visit. “He (Rahul Gandhi) is not what the media makes him out to be…Others should not define him,” Pitroda said, adding “People see it for themselves.”
Pitroda said that the party’s immediate goal was to increase its 18 overseas units to 30 and set up chapters in every major US city. The BJP has grown itself in the diaspora through social media. “Use social media responsibly,” Pitroda exhorted the audience, telling them to stay away from fake news and divisive messages.
Gandhi’s visit to New York City coincides with the U.N. General Assembly’s annual high-level session, during which global leaders convene for meetings in the U.N. and elsewhere in the city. Shudh Parkash Singh, president of the Indian National Overseas Congress wing in the U.S., told IANS he was organizing the meeting for Gandhi so “NRIs can know first-hand what his (Gandhi’s) vision is, what his ideology is and Congress is. We wanted him to have meetings with people, face-to-face, in order to turn around (his) image projected by the BJP through managed media. They are out to destroy his image and we are trying to do the opposite.” Singh said the event is financed entirely by the INOC, supplemented with contributions from sponsors and advertisers in a brochure published for the event.