“Boss when are you getting married?’’ Peals of laughter. “Boss, when are you going to be PM?’’ More laughter. This time, even derisive laughter. And it came from people not in the immediate vicinity.
Short on specifics. Confused, and confusing. Empty grandstanding with zero accountability. Once the hush and applause in the hall died down, these harsher judgements flowed on TV and online. But to be fair, it wasn’t entirely a copout.
It was with the deliberate and rehearsed informality of a cool young professor, teaching a complicated idea in everyday lingo, that Rahul Gandhi took to the task of presenting himself again before the Indian public through the elites of industry.
Addressing an 800-strong audience at the CII in New Delhi — with one eye on the live TV audiences out there — he plumbed for a sort of neo-Gandhian model of governance and geopolitics. With compassion and decentralisation as its cornerstones. A model of inclusive, bottom-up, grassroots-led growth energy that, if harnessed, “will create monsters of the size you’ve never seen before’’.
Rahul spoke in aphorisms, like a management guru, or televangelist, prowling around the podium. Quotable quotes came faster than in a Deepak Chopra talk. “We’re not an elephant. We’re a beehive.’’ This was apropos of the India-China debate, of how we should be approaching the comparison.
So China is a dragon, all centralised power and no complexity, whereas India is a potential model of not a lumbering giant but of a quietly buzzing, collective home of soft power. A warm embrace instead of an intimidating handshake, as he demonstrated onstage, to much applause.
More quotes. “Look at Japan. A gentleman sitting here in Bihar, 3,000 years ago, fundamentally changes their lives. Because he listened.’’ He spoke of how this spirit of inclusion is not an obstacle to growth, but a spur.