From Pegasus to Bharat Jodo Yatra: 5 points from Rahul Gandhi's Cambridge speech
Rahul Gandhi's lecture at Cambridge university’s Judge Business School was on 'Learning to Listen in the 21st Century'.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday addressed a lecture on the topic 'Learning to Listen in the 21st Century' at Cambridge University. Speaking at the university’s Judge Business School, he exhorted the need to encourage a global democratic environment instead of a restrictive one.
Rahul will also interact with representatives of the Indian Overseas Congress (IOC) UK chapter and address an ‘Indian Diaspora Conference’ during his week-long visit to the UK.
5 highlights from Rahul’s Cambridge speech:
1. Rahul alleged that the Israeli spyware Pegasus was being used to snoop into the phones of several political leaders, including his own. He added that intelligence officers had warned him to be ‘careful’ about conversations over phone, which were allegedly being recorded. "I myself had Pegasus on my phone. A large number of politicians had Pegasus on their phones. I have been called by intelligence officers who told me, 'please be careful about what you are saying on the phone because we are sort of recording the stuff,” he said.
2. Claiming that Indian democracy was under attack, he said the opposition was under ‘constant pressure’ of being slapped with unreasonable criminal cases. Rahul added that the fundamental factors in a democracy - Parliament, free press, judiciary - were facing restrictions.
“I have got a number of criminal liable cases for things that should under no circumstances be criminal liable cases…Everybody knows and it's been in the news a lot that Indian democracy is under pressure and under attack," the Congress MP said in his address.
Describing a picture of himself being held by police, Rahul said that leaders of opposition parties were ‘jailed for merely standing and discussing issues in front of the Parliament House’. “That's happened 3 or 4 times…relatively violently. You have also heard of the attacks on minorities and the press. You get a sense of what is going on,” he said.
3. Rahul also recollected incidents from his recently concluded 4,000-km Bharat Jodo Yatra across 12 states. Explaining the power of listening and non-violence, he narrated a ‘face-to-face encounter with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’. Despite being warned by the security personnel of terrorist attacks, he continued the walk. An unknown man, who approached Rahul and asked him whether he had actually come to listen to the people of the valley, pointed to a group of ‘militants’ standing nearby.
“I looked at them and thought that I was in trouble…nothing happened, we just carried on…they did not have the power to do anything, even if they wanted to, because I came into that environment to listen, with no violence in me at all,” he said while showing pictures from the Congress-led yatra.
The idea of Bharat Jodo was born out of the need to connect to people and draw attention to prejudice, unemployment and growing inequality in an increasingly stifled atmosphere, he added.
4. He also touched upon the diverse ideologies of the US and China since World War II and the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Talking about the massive shift of production to China and decline in manufacturing in countries like India and the US, he said the issues of inequality and anger need to be addressed urgently.
Sharing that he was initially amazed by the individual freedom and openness in the United States of America, he said that the situation changed post the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Rahul Gandhi also stated how his ID was not checked at an airport shortly after the assassination of his father Rajiv Gandhi. “Anybody can come to America and dream the American dream. Inside America, they will trust you and protect you. Outside of the country, they can sometimes do bad things," he said.
5.Admitting that he is not an expert on China, he shared what he understood from his conversations with senior leaders. The country “idolises harmony” through organisation around the Chinese Communist Party, he said. “China looks at energy, flow, and processes and then tries to shape them. If you use this metaphor, you can see what the Belt and Road is."