Rahul Gandhi
File photo of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressing a press conference | PTI
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Former Congress president and current Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi recently held a video chat with former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan to discuss the economic impacts of the coronavirus-induced lockdown. This, Congress sources say, was the start of a series of interviews and conversations that Rahul Gandhi will conduct with leaders and acclaimed achievers from various walks of life.

The conversation received a lot of traction on both social and print media, and was even carried by mainstream national English news channels, most of which are not very kind to Rahul Gandhi. Therefore, when I read senior journalist T.N. Ninan’s article in ThePrint titled Rahul Gandhi’s chat with Raghuram Rajan makes it look like Congress doesn’t have solutions, I was perplexed. What surprised me even more was that a lot of ‘influential commentators’ seemed to agree with Ninan’s point of view.


Also read: The 10-point checklist on how to be an autocrat — and here’s how Modi fits the bill


Seeking wisdom is not weakness

For starters, the entire conversation between Rahul Gandhi and Raghuram Rajan was smooth, focusing on the economic situation during the ongoing pandemic and offering specific solutions with numbers. Ninan does not seem to find fault with any of that but has an issue with Gandhi asking most of the questions and Rajan responding to them. This, he writes, is “an odd position in which to place the putative leader of the largest opposition party, as someone who seeks wisdom rather than providing answers or solutions.”

I found this very strange because how can seeking wisdom be construed as a sign of weakness? Is it not true that a ‘wise person is hungry for knowledge?’ Even Lord Ram, after killing Ravan, asked Lakshman to seek wisdom from their dying opponent. Only the foolish and egoistic believe that they alone know everything.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus crisis a global emergency on 30 January — the day India reported its first positive Covid-19 case. All through February, Rahul Gandhi warned the Narendra Modi government on the health as well as financial distress that the Covid-19 would bring, but the government, including health minister Harsh Vardhan, hurled personal attacks at him. Now, in hindsight, we know Gandhi was 100 per cent correct.

In a knee-jerk reaction, Prime Minister Modi, who gave people two days for a voluntary ‘Janata Curfew’ to bang thalis, gave just four hours’ notice to a country of over 1.3 billion before shutting it down for three weeks. Government data itself shows millions of poor migrants were stuck. The human suffering of these poor citizens could easily have been avoided if the Modi government had just paid heed to the warnings, consulted experts and “sought their wisdom”. India had a nearly two-month window in January and February to prepare itself, even as China and Iran were struggling with the novel coronavirus. Even now, our testing for the coronavirus still remains low compared to other countries because the Modi government just did not procure enough testing kits initially.


Also read: Don’t stop at Raghuram Rajan. Here’s a list for Rahul Gandhi’s interviews


What would ‘PM Rahul Gandhi’ do

The lockdown has led to an economic catastrophe. A study suggests that for the first time since 1979, the Indian economy may contract. In such a scenario, if one is to pit Rahul Gandhi as the face of the opposition, he can give a broader idea of how he wants the macroeconomic situation to improve. He can envisage his economic goals for India, voice his concerns and articulate a broad vision but the specifics must come from the experts. In this case, it was Raghuram Rajan.

Let us assume Rahul Gandhi as the PM who wants to lay out a roadmap for the automobile sector. For two-wheelers, he will need to consult the Bajajs and the Munjals just like he would consult the Mahindras and Natarajan Chandrasekaran of Tata Motors and R.C. Bhargava of Maruti Suzuki along with other car manufacturers to prepare a fair policy for the four-wheelers.

Any policy must include the voices of the stakeholders and experts who can highlight specific bottlenecks, point out opportunities and help execute the government’s macro vision on the ground. Similarly, if Rahul Gandhi as PM wants to help the banks get out of the crisis that the Covid-19 will create, he will need to speak to the RBI as well as the borrowers and understand sector-wise concerns to bring in the required policy. It applies to every sector — be it service, hospitality, pharma, or airlines. Ultimately, the role of a leader is to have a larger vision, which must be flexible as well as practical.


Also read: Legal autocrats are on the rise. They use constitution and democracy to destroy both


Let’s face it, Modi isn’t a leader

Compare this with how Narendra Modi has governed. With only four hours’ notice, he announced demonetisation and sucked out 86 per cent of Indian currency in circulation. The economy has never recovered from that jolt even as no black money was uncovered. Will any expert claim credit for the horrendous decision of demonetisation? If only PM Modi had actually consulted and “sought wisdom” from Raghuram Rajan before this ridiculous economic suicide. Perhaps it would have made little difference because the RBI board had warned Modi about demonetisation just hours before he made the announcement on 8 November 2016.

Even now, no ‘expert’ would be ready to take credit for the sudden lockdown imposed by Modi, leaving an entire population unprepared and clueless. Many people died, many are still hungry and there will be massive job losses. It is going to take another six to eight months from the time the lockdown is lifted to restart India’s economic engine. But PM Modi, apart from playing an emotional paternal leader, has not been able to communicate the roadmap ahead for our economy and the nation.

It’s extremely dangerous for a democracy when leaders override expert opinion because they believe they know it all. During the Balakot airstrikes, Modi suggested to the defence forces that “heavy cloud cover could be used” to prevent the Indian Air Force jets from being detected by the enemy radar. It was unfortunate and shocking that no one had the guts to tell him how unscientific he was. We were lucky we did not suffer casualties but a country cannot run on luck.

It will serve India much better if we have leaders like Rahul Gandhi, who are not afraid to publicly listen, learn and admit they need the advice of experts. We all do. The alternate to Rahul Gandhi is a leader who believes job opportunities have not diminished despite all the available data, whose government suppresses unemployment reports, and who points to poor people “selling pakodas” outside TV studios to claim that he has created jobs. Still no one has the guts to tell the supreme leader how wrong he is. Incidentally, the same pakoda sellers are today the worse sufferers of this unplanned lockdown.

The author is a social activist and political analyst. Views are personal.

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63 Comments Share Your Views

63 COMMENTS

  1. While it is understood that seeking advice is alright, it has to be done behind the scenes, so that when the leader comes up with the solutions,they appear to be his own. That’s how the voter respects and creates a leader. It’s always the forces that fights the war but it is the prime minister that wins the war.

  2. Mr Poonawala, isn’t your boss, whom you praise so cravenly, the same piddi who tore another Oxford-Cambridge economist Don’s note about a law in front of the media and mocked an entire government? Maybe that’s what we need to learn.

  3. Instead wasting time intaking advice from Rajan about economics, he should seek advice from an expert about how to save congress. That is most urgent for him.

  4. Acquiring knowledge from learned person shows the quality of a perfect leader but thinking yourself as a scholar without any degree reflects your attitude that what worse you would do and doing.

  5. Wisdom doesn’t mean that you keep on asking from advisor each time what is the next alphabet, what is the next numerical and so on. Especially one who wants to lead the country should have that much of his own IQ. Do you get me Steeves?

  6. I’m very happy that Rahul Gandhi is starting dialogues with such noteworthy figures. I’m sure in future the same famous personalities will be union ministers in the Cabinet whenever UPA comes to power. At least it will be better than illiterate people who are currently in the Cabinet such as Debasree Choudhary, Giriraj Singh et al…
    Good luck to Congress 🙂

  7. I would like to ask Mr. Ninan only this , What was the economic situation pre corona and post corona , was and is it good position , if not does or did the PM have economic solutions for last six years , if not then shouldn’t the PM have consulted experts who have the solutions , if PM had asked , would it have made him any less PM , Mr.Ninan I’ll wait for your honest answer if you one .

  8. Sune bin kaha nahi jata. Har bat ka do pahlu hota hai Abhi tak lokshahi ke nam Mobocracy hui hai. Aur log jo apne ko buddhiman samjate hai, vohi log tali bajake vah vah karte the. Aur taklif yehi hai kai aise log apne ko buddhiman samjate the.

  9. I think this cretin is talking about Arjuna seeking wisdom from a fallen Bhishma in Mahabharat. Too much secularism leads one to confuse one’s epics.

    • Buddy it is your unawareness not his confusion about Ramayana.
      Ram indeed told Lakshman to seek knowledge from Ravana as stated by Valyamiki Ramayana.
      Secularism is not a propaganda its noble thoughts.
      And for you my freind I can remember a saying
      “Duvidha me dono gaye
      Maya mila naRam”…

  10. If whatever Modi does is without advise , then he is being given undue credit. One can say that he is not seeking advise from, the ex- noble prize winners, ex-RBI governors, ex-finance ministers but then people have voted him in to use his discretion, if he fails he will not come back to power.
    So far Modi has been blamed for every thing, all the way up to CHOUKIDAR CHOR HAI. For whatever reason if it has not made a difference, think of something else.
    It would be nice to read a piece from RaGa , written by himself ( the language will give away if it is not) and the PRINT will oblige you,
    Based on his huge exposure to the different people, a vision for future and how to make a start now while MODI is around (and he will be there for some time to come)
    Bajajs, Munjals , Mahindras ,Natarajan Chandrasekaran, R.C. Bhargava are not people with just knowledge, they have the capability to apply that knowlegde. Do not know if that capability of application is in-born or can be cultivated. An honest vision document will demonstrate it-
    ONE WAY OF BEATING MODI WITHOUT ABUSING HIM

  11. Mr Poonawala must understand that Rahul Gandhi is doing all this for publicity. The PM also takes advice and there is a mechanism in the government to do that.only that he doesn’t come and broadcast who all he took advice from.

  12. I think the print want to loose it’s subscriber base by sharing such politically motivated headline.
    I follow print for unbiased objective news not sensationalism

    • 100 percent correct. Who bothers for advice of Congress party whom people have rejected? Useless discussion.

  13. Ninan has been very uncharitable to Rahul Gandhi. So have many others. They have set the bar very high for Rahul Gandhi which is unfair. High time all these journalists who call them intellectuals learn to be fair to somebody who has definitely emerged as a leader during this crisis. If he is wrong certainly express it but if he is already making an attempt to understand a problem what is wrong withit?. After reading Ninan’ piece I have lost respect for Ninan but not for Rahul Gandhi which Ninan sought to achieve. I am ordinary mortal who does not play politics. My comment is on asking these opinion makers to be fair. It is easy to criticise but difficult to give credit. Mr.Ninanwhy is the bar set so high for only Rahul Gandhi? And have you never in your life asked for advice?

  14. The articles published by The Print by TEHSEEN POONAWALLA , brother-in Law of Robert Vadhera , who is Brother -in Law of Rahul Gandhi , is on expected lines . Why the Print wants to camouflage the identity of writer as as social activist and political analyst , specially when he has even questioned the views of Mr. T.N. Ninan in this article who is one of the senior most journalists of India. Why do you think Mr. POONAWALLA is some notch above in its political, economic , wisdom.? And he can go on deprecating the views of Mr. T.N. Ninan and like that of Mr. Ninan as irrelevant and trashable . Please note Mr. RG ,s talking to any expert or so-called expert is just down right only POLITICKING at a time when India and whole of the world is fighting an invisible enemy – Corona Virus- , that is threatening the lives of people, destroying the economies of the world, complicating international relations. RG s talent, I.Q. E.Q. ,leadership qualities, administrative and legislative knowledge and experience is well known to public at large , except to some of the journalists who are Modi-haters, At this time of crisis any attempt to refurbish the image will be counter productive,. Mr.Modi, PMO, whole of the bureaucracy , police forces, Medical fraternity, common man are engaged in fighting the dreaded virus AT LEAST WITH SOME GOOD RESULTS. Elections are at least Four years away. . Waiting for that time may give some talking points at that time. TO DAYS TALK SHOWS ARE JUST UNIMPRESSIVE TIME-PASS.
    Being put on twice as my comments are not appearing . Don t CENSURE. if not published , I will post it other sites giving your history of indulging in Congress prompted censurship.

  15. These days no media wants to cover what Rahul Gandhi does (of course except home grown NDTV) because he reacts on every issue without knowing anything about. His main agenda has been simply to criticise government. With finding no credibility for his statements, he has perhaps found a new way to propel that cause. His talking to Raghu Raman(a Congress favorite) is not to seek economic knowledge but to show government in bad light not by him but by the so called expert’s sayings. He never says what Congress is doing or wants to do for the suffering people to reduce the impact of coronavirus. He thinks giving advice is only his duty. Congress has plenty of volunteers to protest and to hold dharna but how many are on the street for helping the stranded people?

  16. Mr. Poonawala, why don’t you let pappu have a press conference all by himself…?? … No aides.. His caliber is less than mediocre. Talj with Raghuram was over one hour. It was full of faux pas’s. Edited down to 30 min. All usually pappu wisecracks eliminated.

  17. Rahul and Manmohan didnot listen to Raghuram when he spoke of NPAs in banks.Raghuram couldn’t do any thing about NPAs.Raghuram has on various occassions talked about 2006- 2008 period being the time which resulted in NPAs.And we should believe now that these people will save the economy? That a party which is creator of problems will solve them? Bhakts of Modi and Gandhi family… Wake up. Time is running out.

  18. Idiotic article by an idiot. Rahul Gandhi is a dud who can not comprehend anything forget economy. Raghu ram rajan who was responsible for mess of loans to criminals who running pillor to post now, their properties are bring confiscated now. Don’t be under the impression modi does not consult experts. He is continuously in touch with them and seeking their advise. . Modi is a mass leader who understand the pulse. Even Demo was a right decision else people would not supported him. It has positive impact in long run. Congi criminals and others will think twice before hording money

  19. Thanks Poonwala. The country is full of illiterates and is not fully ready to accept the pearls of wisdom from such a literate family and more so Raga. Let him acquire more wisdom and sharpen his skills and am sure it will take just 2 more decades and then come and present himself to the people,. By then the poor masses will acquire some wisdom & skills to decode the genius Raga. Happy learning.

  20. This is a sycophantic defense of an ineffective ‘leader’.
    RaGa is nothing but an entitled dynast.
    At 50 something his accomplishments include:
    Leading the INC into losses at the polls for the Indian Parliament not once, but twice in a row.
    Lost the Khandani Lok Sabha from Amethi in 2019
    The only reason this man- baby is still in Parliament is because of a loophole in Indian election law that allowed him to contest from two constituencies in the same election!
    All I see is a man in true to his Italian heritage with “an unnatural attachment” to his mother. Go home mamas boy.
    The only reason this man- baby is still in Parliament is because of a loophole in Indian election law that allowed him to contest from two constituencies in the same election!
    All I see is a man in true to his Italian heritage with “an unnatural attachment” to his mother. Go home mamas boy.
    India now has the right leadership for the right time.

  21. people still love and respect Congress. But over the years failed to understand if Sonia and Rahul are only two wise persons to lead such an old party. When the fact is that none of these two had ever been a village sarpanch in India or abroad. Till date both of them have failed to prove their nationality and religion and dreaming to rule the largest democracy of the world. It’s very depressing when educated journalists write like this.

  22. never read such a different opinion about one world famous leader I.e. Modi and a leader whose whereabouts are not known to even his senior party members number of times when the country needs opposition leader very much. Sorry to say the writer seems to be a staunch pro congressman or have charged a hefty amount from Congress party for this childish and ridiculous piece of writing. Not only leaders should consult experienced persons before taking any policy decision, jsuch aournalists should also have also gotten approved their writing from some reputed wise man.

  23. WE have been reading and hearing a lot about Mr.Raghuram Rajan.I have also heard about him much earlier than he became Governor of RBI as THREE of my close relatives were his students .No doubt he is a well known Economist. Why not THE PRINT publish an article about his achievements as a Governor of Reserve Bank highlighting his reforms in Economy and Banking Sector?
    It will help us to know him closely .

  24. If one goes by Ninan’s observation then one will have to conclude that the central govt as well does not have any solution as it has the chief of NITI AYOG who advises on policy issues. It also has an Economic Advisor who advises the govt on fiscal and development issues on a daily basis and both of them are paid by the govt.
    Mr. Ninan, why do you make yourself a laughing stock?

  25. RAHUL INTERACTS WITH RAGHURAM RAJAN ??
    WAS THIS INTERACTION AMONGST “UNEQUALS” REALLY REQUIRED ??
    FOR, RAHUL ,ONCE AGAIN, DISPLAYS HIS UNDER-DEVELOPED BRAIN !
    AT THIS AGE OF HIS, IT’S CALLED,”FOOT-IN-MOUTH” DISEASE !!
    “ONLY” RAHUL-TRUMP INTRACTION CAN BE TERMED AS, “OF EQUALS” !!
    IT’S LIKE TAKING A DONKEY🐴 TO THE WATER, BUT YOU CAN’T MAKE IT DRINK !! & , HOW MUCH EVER SOAP ONE APPLIES TO A CROW, YOU CANNOT MAKE IT WHITE !!
    THIS IS THE SITUATION OF RAUL GAND(hi), AN “UNWILLING SUITOR”, BEING DRAGED BACK, TIME & AGAIN, TO LEAD A BUNCH OF SPINELESS, GUTLESS, BOOT LICKERS & ARSE LICKERS OF THE “OWNERS” OF THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS !!

  26. It’s a biased article written with malice against the great statesman-Pm, Shri Narendra Modi.

  27. Indians across the board feel an URGENT NEED for a Constructive Opposition Party and look up to the Congress for the same. Unfortunately the millstone around the Congress is the person being projected by the likes of tehseen. There is a Vast pool of talent in the Congress Party and within the country, who will be miles ahead of the person projected. Alas the Family and the COTRIE around them will crush them, lest the DYNAST will be overshadowed. One shudders to imagine that person at the helm with the likes of tehseen to aid and assist that person. CONGRESSMEN PLEASE RISE ABOVE THE DYNASTY FOR THE SAKE OF OUR COUNTRY.

  28. The print and Mr Poonawala are perfectly entitled to their opinions,but the only objection I have to their view point is that they have selected a dynast who’s claim to the throne lies in his name and the keys he has to the Congress’s treasure chest.Mr.Poonawala why not throw your hat into the ring to challenge this hopeless dynast.That would ring the entry of a challenger to the dynasty and a serious challenge to the BJP,inspite of the pious efforts of the dynasty to keep BJP in power

  29. Has Rahul Gandhi ever declared and fought election as Leader or PM Candidate? First ask his party or group to officially present him as leader and fight elections as he being PM Candidate. Then this article would have any meaning. Just figting from sidelines and then take chair if oppurtunity exists is not what leaders do.

  30. Well said Tehseen. TN Ninan belongs to the old school, one who still sees politics as a game with a supremo on top. Those times are gonee. Covid-19, climate change, the rise of new disruptive technologies are changing social and national realities. These new challenges call for a different style of governance that is more consultative than a top-down approach.

  31. The articles published by The Print by TEHSEEN POONAWALLA , brother-in Law of Robert Vadhera , who is Brother -in Law of Rahul Gandhi , is on expected lines . Why the Print wants to camouflage the identity of writer as as social activist and political analyst , specially when he has even questioned the views of Mr. T.N. Ninan in this article who is one of the senior most journalists of India. Why do you think Mr. POONAWALLA is some notch above in its political, economic , wisdom.? And he can go on deprecating the views of Mr. T.N. Ninan and like that of Mr. Ninan as irrelevant and trashable . Please note Mr. RG ,s talking to any expert or so-called expert is just down right only POLITICKING at a time when India and whole of the world is fighting an invisible enemy – Corona Virus- , that is threatening the lives of people, destroying the economies of the world, complicating international relations. RG s talent, I.Q. E.Q. ,leadership qualities, administrative and legislative knowledge and experience is well known to public at large , except to some of the journalists who are Modi-haters, At this time of crisis any attempt to refurbish the image will be counter productive,. Mr.Modi, PMO, whole of the bureaucracy , police forces, Medical fraternity, common man are engaged in fighting the dreaded virus AT LEAST WITH SOME GOOD RESULTS. Elections are at least Four years away. . Waiting for that time may give some talking points at that time. TO DAYS TALK SHOWS ARE JUST UNIMPRESSIVE TIME-PASS.
    ,

  32. Your article clearly points out why RG should not be PM. If RG or even other Congressi ever listen to public, you guys would have sought a pity issue that who should be or more specifically who should not be Congress leader.

  33. There will be no PM rahul Gandhi. Stop projecting a incompetent person for country’s top job. Spread some positivity instead of if and when. Print is the worst conspiracy theorist of all times and we see it for what it is.

  34. Looks like Indians enjoy suffering. No wonder they traded all their bliss, well being and happiness under past Congress regimes, for a PM who only makes them suffer. There seems to be something about the psyche of Indians. As soon as the author and his boss figure it out there is no stopping them from winning over Indians.

  35. Are you a “social activist” or a Rahul Gandhi apologist. Why don’t you just let the Congress defend its leader? Anyway, you have COMPLETELY missed Ninan’s point. He was not against anyone seeking advice from anyone else–you may not know or want to acknowledge, but Modi does it all the time. But what Rahul Gandhi did was a stupid attempt at publicity. He wanted people (like you) to think, “Ah, here is a humble man who respects intellectuals and seeks advice from them”, but the obvious grandstanding not only fell flat on its face but, as Ninan points out, also showed RG as a ‘little boy tailing his headmaster’ rather than a leader. “The alternate to Rahul Gandhi (the word you should have used is ‘alternative’, not ‘alternate’–do get your language right before you upchuck in public)” is a man who is seen by most of the world as a “leader”–you may bury your head in sand and keep denying it. You are probably not aware of how many meetings the govt has held with industrialists in the recent past.

  36. The author is a fanatic supporter of the Gandhi family in general and Rahul Gandhi.He deserves sympathy for trying to sell a twice failed product.It is not only T.N.Ninan,but several other writers have expressed or even worse comments on the Interview.And many of them are not on the side of BJP.People are despairing for a credible opposition to the BJP,but sticking to the dynasty for this is a waste of time.In fact people like the author could form a group of like minded people within the Congress Party like Sachin Pilot<deepankar Hooda,Gogoi Junior etc,and constitute a nucleus of a credible opposition.No use flogging a dead horse like the dynasty.

  37. This writer cannot be taken seriously when he is talking of Congress. By the same token, any “advice” that he gives the PM Modi is not only highly presumptuous of him, but is also tinged with the same attitude that Rahul has for the PM: ‘Scorn and ridicule’.

  38. Slaves want to launch pappu once again. Bad lick for next 10 years, bty that time he will be in mental asylum

  39. What a remarkable analysis,even a ordinary person can run government efficiently if he is considerate & listening to views of experts & stakeholders & formulate policies accordingly,but a more active & workholic person can destroy the country by his foolish decisions & stubborn attitude.We pray for the future of India.

  40. There is always that “one straw” that breaks the camels back….and for me this writer it is……if print enlists such writers or analyst or whatever they call themselves…then there is NO POINT..for me personally to continue reading “print”….a few prople write or report utter rubbish and nonsense…on print..but now this guy ..he takes the cake…sad that the print has come down or stooped so low…to the levels of the tehseens…shivams…this is not journalism…i would not use that word..but i think after this guy and his article….Mr shekhar gupta will know what that word is…enabling the print to hit a new low.

    • Absolutely. I cannot agree more. He ‘exposes’ himself every time he appears on so called ‘TV debates’, a euphemism for ‘shouting matches’, where you come with an agenda to push through, and you do your best to keep shouting it.

  41. Rahul Gandhi is the PM India was FORTUNATE TO NEVER HAVE. Enough said.
    Tehseen, stop backing a loser.

  42. If he has any worthwhile ideas, he would have by now given some, but all he has is only attacks on the Authentic Modijis vision for the country. Time he realizes he has nothing to offer from his empty mind and appoints someone else as the leader of the opposition and that of his party. Else he is doomed…and you guys praising pappu is so apparent that you are sick paid media…

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