India has to basically compete with China and it is not doing as well, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said and noted that the performance of the two large and populous Asian countries will fundamentally reshape the world.
Interacting with students at Princeton University, Gandhi said there were two large migrations taking place — “one is completely free and the other is centrally organised.”
“The systems respond differently. They (India and China) are two huge countries that are transforming from agricultural countries to urban modern countries. And that’s a huge chunk of the world population,” Gandhi said.
“And how these two countries do is going to fundamentally reshape the world. It’s not my place to sit here and say that China should be democratic or not. They have chosen their path and we have chosen our path,” he added.
Gandhi said there was cooperation as well as competition between India and China.
“We have to basically compete with them,” he said, adding “frankly we are not doing that well”.
Referring to the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, he said China was entering spaces with a particular vision of the world. “It’s very clear. And from their perspective it’s a powerful vision,” Gandhi said.
“Does India have a similar vision? What does that vision look like? How much cooperation is going to be between us and them? These are basically the fundamental questions going forward.
“But the thing to realise is that China is moving with tremendous power and we have to work with that,” he said.
Gandhi said the strategic relationship with the United States is important but balance is also important in terms of all other countries.
Answering a query, he said centralisation of the political system is one of the biggest problems in India and “laws in the country are made by bureaucrats and ministers”.
“We sit in Parliament, we have conversations. We don’t make laws in Parliament. Laws are made by bureaucrats and ministers. After that you say debate is of poor quality, of course it’s poor quality.”
He said that India’s strength has always and historically been the ability to embrace people and allow them to flourish inside our system.
“To me the big challenge in India is the politics of polarisation, where you pit one community against another and you create spaces for other people to come in. There is a belt of 100 million tribal people.
“Today, they do not feel comfortable with the vision. There are a number of states in India which don’t want a single vision forced down their throat. There are minority communities, they don’t feel that they are part of the vision,” said Gandhi.
He said whether it was education, healthcare, growth, jobs it is placed on top of the “structure of harmony.”
“If we alienate our own people, that opens up space for people to do mischief. I don’t need to name who those people are. India needs to carry every single person along.”
Gandhi said the single biggest achievement of the Congress party was giving everybody in India a vision.
Gandhi said that a large part of his work involves creating an “alternative vision” for the next 10 years that will focus on jobs, education and healthcare, on which he thinks not much has been spent.
“We were in power for 10 years. We had a vision that began in 2004. By 2012, we felt that vision had run into trouble. So large part of what we are going to do is going to work on the vision for the next 10 years. That will focus on how to solve the job problem. It will focus on agriculture, education and healthcare,” he said.