Rahul Gandhi to “learn” microcredit from Bangladesh : start building the “future leader” image

Posted on August 3, 2008. Filed under: economics, India, microcredit, Politics, Rahul Gandhi |

Rahul Gandhi has found out from his two day tour, that on an average, the levels of rural poverty in Bangladesh is much lower than in India. He has tasted tea from a roadside tea-stall giving his “Z” security minders the slip. These are two significant observations that indicate what this visit was all about.

From a realistic viewpoint, it is impossible to get an idea of how microcredit runs in Bangladesh, in two days, talking through interpreters without knowing the local dialect and almost nothing of the local culture, surrounded by conscpicuous heavy security, and guided by officials of the organization that leads the program, and a very small sample size of cases.

Rahul Gandhi could have learnt more from experiments going on in his own backyard in India, and would have gained more socially relevant experience – as there are specific social conditions that substantially differ between Bangladesh and India. The only excuse that perhaps Rahul can give is that he will try to apply his “learning” to “uplifting” the state of Muslim women in UP.

But what were the real reasons behind this visit. This is an indication that the Congress old-guard has started the long drawn process of building up the image of Rahul as the future “benevolent despot” from the Nehru dynasty. The visit portrays Rahul as a sympathetic towards Muslims, towards a “small neighbour”, towards the “rural poor” (who dominate the Indian Ocean rim), and a “gracious big brother” who can manage to give the right amount of diplomatic flattery. Rahul’s spontaneity towards tea, showcased by the media, gives the proper “human/one of us” touch. I have to give it to the Congress bosses – it was a well managed show! We can hope to see more of Rahul in such visits, whose frequency will gradually increase.

It would be good to see him break out of his North Indian shell, learn a few of the Indian languages other than Hindi (which he doesn’t speak like a native speaker – amazing, given the degree of  chauvinism shown by some native Hindi-speakers to all other Indian languages as well as anyone who does not speak Hindi “properly”), show depth and understanding of Indian history and culture like his great grandparent (but not share the latter’s penchant for spontaneous blunders such as the unilateral declaration of accepting a referendum for Kashmir in 1948 – what about referendums for other disputed territories like Balochistan, Sind or regions ceded in the east to Pakistan- which then had substantial populations reluctant to join Pakistan but subsequently ethnically cleansed by the “peaceful towards non-Muslims” Islamic elite of Pakistan?) – and hopefully restrict his spontaneity to tea only.

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