In New York, Rahul says divisive forces are ruining India’s global reputation as peaceful nation

He concludes his visit to the U.S. by addressing about 2,000 supporters at a hotel ball room near the iconic Times Square.

NEW DELHI: India’s global reputation as a peaceful and harmonious nation is being ruined by forces that are dividing the country, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said in New York on Thursday.

Mr. Gandhi, 47, who was on a two-week tour the United States, concluded his visit by addressing about 2,000 supporters at a hotel ballroom near the iconic Times Square.

“India has always shown the world how to live in harmony. For thousands of years, India has had a reputation of peace and harmony. This is being challenged. There are forces in our country that are dividing it. And it is very dangerous for the country and it ruins our reputation abroad,” he said.

Mr. Gandhi said that during his visit he interacted with many people from the Democratic and the Republican parties who asked him what was going on in India.

Asserting that India’s reputation in the world is very important, he said the world was transforming and people were looking towards India.

“Many countries in a violent world are looking towards India and saying maybe India has the answer for the 21st century. May be India has the answer for peaceful co-existence in the 21st century. So we cannot afford to lose our most powerful asset,” he said.

India’s most powerful asset

India’s most powerful asset is its 1.3 billion people living happily, nonviolently and peacefully.“And the world respected us for that. India is a country that belongs to all its people.”

Mr. Gandhi said the most of the people he met in the U.S. asked him “what has happened to the tolerance that used to prevail in India“.

“I must tell you, I was very surprised because before I could even tell them what I was feeling, before I could even tell them what I was worried about, they told me exactly the same thing,” he said.

“We discussed everything in India. There is a divisive politics going on in India. But the real challenge facing India is out of 30,000 new youngsters coming in, 450 are getting a job. You can imagine as this process continues, what the result will be,” he said.

NRI movement

Asserting that the original Congress movement was an NRI (non-resident Indian) movement, he urged the diaspora in the U.S. to come forward with their ideas for another movement of transforming the country.

“Mahatma Gandhi was an NRI. Jawaharlal Nehru came back from England. Ambedkar, Patel, Maulana Azad, everyone of them went to the outside world, saw the outside world, returned to India and used some of the ideas that they had got and transformed India,” he noted.

“And wherever I went, you made me feel proud to be an Indian,” Mr. Gandhi said as he praised the Indian community’s contribution to the country’s progress.

“So, I would like to start by telling you, that you are actually the backbone of our country,” he said.

The Congress party represented a philosophy that is thousands and thousands of years old, he added.