Rahul Gandhi meets northeast students at Salesian university Mattersindia.com reporter
GUWAHATI ?The Indian National Congress vice-president Mr Rahul Gandhi held a Town Hall style interactive program with university students on a two day visit to Assam. He was in Assam, northeast India, 25-26 February, and met with students, women and farmers. Mr Gandhi spoke to students on the theme: "Agenda For Change: Education and Nation Building." More than 400 students participated at the event held yesterday 26 February at Assam Don Bosco University Azara Campus atrium with student reps from six universities. The event was linked up also with four other institutes of higher learning like IIM and IITs in northeast India at Silchar, Agartala, Shillong, and at Sriperumabur in Tamilnadu where Mr Gandhi?s father former Prime Minister Mr Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991. Arriving on time for the 10.am session Mr Gandhi received enthusiastic applause from students. Mr Gandhi climbed on to the gallery and sat among students during brief welcome words from Chief Minister Shri Tarun Gogoi. ?I encourage you to speak your mind on issues that concern you,? Mr Gandhi told the young people who eagerly waited to hear him. However, the Congress vice-president avoided giving a direct reply when a Manipuri girl asked his view on continuation of the notorious Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the state. "Many of the conflicts take place because we don't empower people enough. We can solve every problem with discussion," he said. "I am inspired by Mahatma Gandhi that any conflict can be resolved through discussions, love and peace,'' said Mr Gandhi. He said he is confident the problem in Manipur can be resolved. "You cannot solve problems without discussing them and by using force against these people. They must have the power to do what they want to chart out their own destiny and fulfill their dreams. So, more power to the youngsters and the people," he added. Placing emphasis on the development of Northeast, the Congress vice-president said that the region needed better connectivity and the people of these states must feel comfortable in other parts of the country. Taking up the recent murder of the Arunachalee boy Nido in New Delhi earlier this month, Mr Gandhi said, ?some people are ignorant about the diversity of our country. But we should not react with anger." He also talked about women safety and empowerment saying that men must learn to respect women more. "Some leaders talk about making India superpower. What superpower? I want women to be treated well in a bus than India becoming superpower," said Gandhi. "My grandmother was the boss of my family. My father treated my sister and me equally. I come from such a background," he added insisting that boys respect girls. Facing a barrage of questions from students, Mr Gandhi spoke about Indian economy stating, ?our transportation cost is high. The infrastructure needs to be improved. Besides, we must give encouragement to entrepreneurship by making funds available from banks. Failure is looked down upon in India. We must change that attitude," he said. He also criticized the education system in India saying that it doesn't serve the end user and demanded that institutes of higher learning must ensure, ?employability of the graduates.? On the previous day Mr Gandhi had a road show at Nagaon, the BJP's bastion in central Assam. "There were thousands of people standing on both sides of the road and each of them were waiting to have a glimpse of Rahul," said environment minister Rockybul Hussain, who organized the road show. Mr Gandhi launched a veiled attack on BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi saying politicians speaking with anger hurt others. "Politicians come and say that others are bad and evil and they should be destroyed. This will only create violence," Rahul Gandhi said, indirectly referring Modi's call to finish Congress in India. "When politicians speak with anger and hatred, it is going to harm you," he told students. "Big statements are made about India being a superpower. What superpower? I will rather make a woman safe in a bus than (India) being a superpower," said Mr Gandhi Mr Gandhi spent some 30 hours in Assam during his visit while Mr Modi spent barely three hours.