Sunday evening with Rahul Gandhi, Milind Deora and Sam Pitroda

Sanjay and Suniti Subhedar hosted a fascinating introduction to Indian politics for two neophytes, my wife and I. Sanjay and the audience asked Rahul Gandhi a wide range of thoughtful questions. And, Rahul answered them.

My wife and I left dinner feeling like we got to know Rahul Gandhi. Before dinner, we (as Korean American immigrants) couldn’t even recognize Rahul from the dinner party. After dinner, my wife felt Rahul was a professor (rather than a politician) with an intense passion for India’s future. I found Rahul to be an authentic deep thinker and a surprising listener.


I am very impressed when any leader (especially a major political leader) shares his challenges and shows any vulnerability. Most leaders rarely show them and just tend to blame others.

When the audience asked Rahul some direct questions on his challenges, he provided direct answers. Rahul discussed his challenge to modernize the Congress party to reflect the new vision for India, to add the next generation leaders, and, most importantly, to include new people from all parts of India. He also discussed his challenge to communicate “simply,” when the simple answer requires him to ignore certain truths.


Rahul then described his vision for India.

1) Include ALL Indians in the vision. He said many Indians feel excluded from the current vision. They are part of a different religion, different minority, different tribe, different region, etc. That exclusion creates anger at being left out. That exclusion also creates fear. He described the scariest moment for many Indians as migrating to a new large city with no family and friends. He worries about foreign parties and certain leaders taking advantage of this anger and fear to foment dissension inside India. To weaken India. To partition India (again).

2) Compete with China for job creation. We heard a lot about the Indian economy, including economic statistics for GDP growth, job growth, and new job applicants. The fundamental economic problem is not enough job creation. Many new job applicants cannot get jobs. This exacerbates the anger and fear. Rahul described the root cause: the need to provide effective education versus mere mass certification.

3) Decentralize political power to reduce corruption and embrace and empower ALL Indians. The audience naturally asked some questions about corruption. Rahul gave his answer.

As a non-Indian and an American, I wanted to match Rahul’s vision to an American political leader. Rahul’s vision reminded me of Abraham Lincoln’s ending words in the Gettysburg address. He wants a “Government of the people, by the people and for the people” rather than a “Government of the few, by the few and for the few.”