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Rahul compares Hindu-Muslim divide in India with Afro-American acrimony in US

The same people who weakened the structure of the country say they are the nationalists, Rahul Gandhi said

Friday June 12, 2020 3:21 PM, IANS

Rahul Gandhi with Nicholas Burns

New Delhi: Former Congress President and MP Rahul Gandhi in conversation with Harvard Professor Nicholas Burns said the division in the society weakens the country but the people who divide portray it as "strength of the country".

Speaking to Burns on Friday through video conference, Rahul Gandhi said, "I feel that the division which occurs actually tremendously weakens the country, but the people who do divide, portray it as the strength of the country."

"When you divide African Americans, Mexicans and other people in the US, so you divide Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs in India, you're weakening the "structure of the country", he said.

"But then the same people who weakened the structure of the country say they are the nationalists," Rahul Gandhi said.

'Trump an authoritarian personality'

To the Congress leader's remarks, the former NATO Ambassador said, "I think that is, I mean that is what President (Donald) Trump is all about. He wraps himself in a flag. He declares that he alone can fix the problems."

"I must say, I think President Trump is in many ways an authoritarian personality," the Professor said, adding, "But in the US, you are seeing the institutions remain strong."

Burns also said that the military in the US, especially individual senior military leaders, are clearly saying over the last few days, that "we will not put American military troops onto the streets".

Burns was referring to the US Military not coming on the streets to stop the protests over the killing of George Floyd by the police.

Floyd died after a police officer pressed his knee against his neck in Minneapolis on May 25. His last words "I can't breathe" have been a rallying cry for the protesters who have launched demonstrations in various parts of the US. The issue has also led to serious debate in the American society about race.

"That's the function of the police forces, not the military force. We will abide by the Constitution. Senior military officer General Mark Milley said this week, Americans have a right to protest. They have a right to disagree with the government," Burns said, adding that these are so fundamental, it's extraordinary how to even debate these.

"We're back to debating first principles but again, I do see strengths that democracies go through trials. We play out our differences, in political campaigns or in street protests, but at least we can do that", The Professor said.

'Authoritarianism looming in China, Russia'

Referring to China and Russia, Burns said, "You can see authoritarianism coming back in China and Russia. We, democracies, we sometimes go through painful episodes because of our freedoms, but we're so much stronger because of them. That's our advantage, I think, inherently over the authoritarian countries," he said.

Burns is currently the Professor of Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics in the Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The interaction with Burns is in a series of dialogues that Rahul Gandhi has been holding with eminent personalities on various topics. In the last three months, the Congress leader has interacted with former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerji, epidemiologist Johan Geseicke and Indian industrialist Rajiv Bajaj.

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