Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi while speaking to MBA students at the Cambridge Judge Business School on the subject of “Learning to Listen in the 21st Century”, said that people around the world need to find a way of listening compassionately to new concerns in the 21st century that have been transformed by the shift of production away from democratic countries and toward China.
“The art of listening” when done consistently and diligently is “very powerful,” he added.
He said the decline in recent decades of manufacturing in democratic countries, including India and the US, as production has shifted to China, has produced mass inequality and associated anger that need urgent attention and dialogue.
“We simply cannot afford a planet that doesn’t produce under-democratic systems,” he told the MBA students.
“So we need new thinking about how you produce in a democratic environment compared to a coercive environment”, and a “negotiation about this”.
Rahul was introduced to the MBA audience by Kamal Munir, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cambridge and Professor of Strategy and Policy at the Cambridge Judge Business School, who said the speaker comes from a “long lineage of global leaders”.
Gandhi’s lecture was divided into three parts, starting with an outline of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, a 4,081-km walk he led through 14 Indian states from September 2022 to January 2023 to draw attention to “prejudice, unemployment and growing inequality in India”.
The second part of the lecture focussed on the “two divergent perspectives” of the US and China since World War II and especially since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
The former Congress President said that in addition to shedding manufacturing jobs, the US had become less open after September 11, 2001, while China “idolises harmony” through organization around the Chinese Communist Party.
The final aspect of his lecture was around the theme of “Imperative for a Global Conversation”, in which he knitted the themes together in a call for a new type of receptiveness to various viewpoints — explaining that a ‘yatra’ is a journey or pilgrimage in which people “shut themselves down so they can listen to others”.