Rahul Gandhi
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi spoke at UC Berkeley on Sept. 11. (Diya TV file photo)

BERKELEY, Calif. (Diya TV) — Indian Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi spoke to UC Berkeley students at the sold-out “India at 70: Reflections on the Path Forward” event at the University’s Chevron Auditorium on Sept. 11.

Speaking on his vision for India and where the country is headed, the 47-year-old was welcomed at the San Francisco International airport by Overseas Congress chairman Sam Pitroda and President of Indian National Overseas Congress U.S. Shudh Singh.

The event, organized by the university’s Institute for South Asia Studies and Institute of International Studies, saw Ghandi offer his reflections on contemporary India and the path forward for the world’s largest democracy. He follows in the footsteps of his great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, who delivered a historic speech at Berkeley in 1949.

Gandhi started his remarks by addressing 9/11 and paying homage to those who lost their lives on that day then began addressing a wide variety of topics.

“Everybody knows that something has gone very wrong in the system. And the right-wing politicians are saying go there and pick up the fish. And people are sort of looking at the simple answers. They are looking at the simple answers but, you are not going to get results from these simple answers. And this is one of the reasons I have come here. This is a tremendous institution but this institution believes in a liberal ideology, it believes in discussions, it believes in listening to people, it believes in conversations. And, you have a tremendous history and I respect that history.”

“India is a massive country. It is also one of the world’s most complex countries. Every time you think you have understood India, she will reveal something new to you. In fact, I would venture to say anyone who thinks he understands India is a fool … The idea of nonviolence or ahimsa, as we call it in India, is what allows this huge mass of people to rise up together. Uniting India’s religion, castes and languages would simply be impossible without it. It is this idea that Mahatma Gandhi fashioned into a powerful but beautiful political weapon.”

Gandhi went on his approximately 15-minute address, quoting the likes of Cesar Chavez, tackling several issues including healthcare, technology, reducing poverty and sustained economic growth and job creation. Though focusing mostly on positive things looking forward, he did tackle things that are not going well.

“I have given you the positives. But before I end, I need to tell you what can go dangerously wrong. Our strength so far has been that we have done all this peacefully. What can destroy our momentum is the opposite energy. Hatred, anger and violence and the politics of polarization which has raised its ugly head in India today. Violence

and hatred distract people from the task at hand … The politics of hate divides and polarizes India making millions of people feel that they have no future in their own country. In today’s connected world, this is extremely dangerous. It isolates people and makes them vulnerable to radical ideas.”

Gandhi travels to Los Angeles next and is expected to speak in New York on September 20.

Gandhi, who has often been critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was met with a protest at the University organized by Sikhs For Justice.

You can watch the complete speech here.