Rahul Gandhi interacts with students at the Institute of Management Technology Dubai. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Indian students in the UAE are needed to help solve “serious problems” of unemployment, an underdeveloped agricultural sector and “intolerance” in India, Congress party president Rahul Gandhi told students at the Institute of Management Technology Dubai (IMT Dubai) on Saturday.

Speaking on the second day of his two-day visit to the UAE, Gandhi said NRI (Non-Resident Indian) students in the UAE have the knowledge and dedication needed to serve both India and the UAE “effectively”.

During an interactive session with students at IMT Dubai, Gandhi commented that India is currently witnessing crises in its jobs market and agricultural sector. Another main challenge is the prevalence of “intolerance” under the current government, according to the visiting Indian Member of Parliament.

Increasing NRI role

“You [students] as NRIs, you have a role in India. And it’s going to be a role that is going to increase … You have knowledge, you have understanding, and this is very valuable for our country,” Gandhi said.

He said India is facing “serious problems” of high unemployment — the highest it has been in over a decade — and a “crisis” in which the Indian agricultural sector is not connected to the global economy.

“These two have to be resolved and these two crises are going to require your help.”

Lesson from UAE

Responding to a question about his thoughts on the idea of establishing a ministry of tolerance in India, as the UAE has done, Gandhi said India should “absolutely” have its own ministry of tolerance. However, he warned such a ministry “won’t work … if you have a leader who is intolerant”.

“Tolerance is embedded in our culture and it’s quite sad to see what has been going on back home — lot of intolerance, lot of anger, division between communities”, which, Gandhi said, stems from the current government in India.

Tolerance is embedded in our culture and it’s quite sad to see what has been going on back home — lot of intolerance, lot of anger, division …

- Rahul Gandhi, Congress President

“We take it [tolerance] for granted. It’s only when it doesn’t exist do you start to see its power. And that’s what is visible today in India. I think that’s what we’re trying to fight, that’s what we’re are trying to change.

“We don’t like an India which is divided, where people are beaten up and killed for what they say, where journalists are shot — that’s not the India we are used to. That’s the real challenge in the next election and large numbers of people are not happy with what’s going on there,” said Gandhi, widely regarded as the main contender to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the general elections to be held later this year, said.

‘Tough questions’

Gandhi’s comments came during a question-and-answer session with students from IMT Dubai and other establishments who had gathered on the campus of IMT Dubai. The questions covered a wide variety of topics — education, sports, politics, health care, business and more.

Gandhi had questions of his own for students — what key sectors would you focus on if you were prime minister of India; how is the Middle East different from India; do you want to work in a large or small company and why; how is it possible for diversity to beget unity; is India also a set of ideas — what are those ideas; and more.

“I can ask tough questions,” Gandhi said in a light moment with students, assuring them that being a politician is a “hard job”.

After the session, Gandhi left for Abu Dhabi for meetings with top officials and business leaders on Saturday.