New Delhi/Nagpur: As the Centre’s ambitious start-up mission got underway, Rahul Gandhi on Saturday trained his guns on the Narendra Modi government, saying there is a contradiction in pushing for start-ups and being “intolerant”.
Gandhi also attacked the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for what he termed as their “rigid thinking” which hampers creativity and start-ups in the country.
Interacting with B-school students of the prestigious Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) here, Gandhi said the BJP-RSS have “a clear idea of what the world should be” according to their viewpoint.
This country requires flexibility, openness and movement of ideas,” Gandhi said.
“There’s a huge contradiction in saying I want start ups but I will be intolerant,” the Congress leader said.
“You will fail on the economy and start up front if you are intolerant,” he said. “Start ups require free movement of ideas. If I say you are a woman and your place is in the kitchen, I am curbing your freedom,” he said.
Citing examples, he said the Congress party brought and encouraged a culture of tolerance in the country, people were free to discuss ideas which ultimately culminated in the freedom movement.
Clad in casual jeans and tee-shirt, Gandhi urged the students not to put “labels on people, industry or things, as labels are human inventions” and stifle growth.
Hitting out at the ruling BJP-led NDA’s policies, the Congress leader said India is essentially an agrarian economy, but the present government was not doing enough for the farmers.
“We have been a traditional agri-economy, but we have made a smooth transition from agri to IT and knowledge economy now. A few years ago, we had launched National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), it was strongly resisted, but now it contributes in a large measure to the nine percent growth as it was injecting cash into rural economy and it built a rural infrastructure,” Gandhi pointed out.
He also charged that the BJP categorises people.
“The BJP has categories: There’s a Hindu for them, a Muslim for them, a woman for them. I don’t categorise. That’s the difference between us and them,” he said.
Rahul asked students not to put labels on people, things and industries.
“Saying this is a Hindu, this is a Muslim, this is a woman…hides values,” he said, adding, “When Steve Jobs was asked what was the most important class you took, he said: Japanese calligraphy”.
Asked how could India help provide conducive atmosphere for start ups, Gandhi said, “Start ups require a whole set of eco systems that allows entrepreneurs to grow including infrastructure and regulation. The biggest problem is red tape.”
“Today, if you are a Rs 10000 crore company, you can’t easily get finance. If you are a big business, you can get around regulations and put pressure on politicians,” he said.
Replying to a question on China, Gandhi said the Asian Communist giant is more powerful and economically stronger, but it grabs and pulls you as it is a centralized economy.
On the other hand, India’s power is never about the military, but about ideas with which we make the other person turn around to our perspective — “India grabs you, but you never feel it.”
But, he said for all its growth, now at 11 percent, China paid a price with many people dying, but not in India with a 9 percent growth — “We are a soft power… and not a threat to the world.”
To a query on the start-up hype, Gandhi said any start-up requires a whole support system to allow an entrepreneur to grow, with access to finance, freedom from government regulations, infrastructure, etc.
“That’s why it’s considered easier to launch start-ups in states like Maharashtra or Karnataka, but businesses face a huge problem in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, though some of the most entrepreneurial people come from there,” Gandhi said.