New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday praised India Inc for introducing the country to the world.

READ MORE: BJP takes a dig at Rahul’s speech

Rahul's speech impressive: India Inc

"When I went to university in 1991, nobody knew India that is not the case now thanks to you people," he said addressing the annual general meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industries in New Delhi.

India, Gandhi said, is bursting with optimism and ideas. The 42 year-old Congress scion, formally addressing a gathering such as this for the first time, said: "We tend to think of India as a nation, but if we go back 100 years, India was actually an emerging force".

The Congress leader pitched for inclusive growth, saying whenever certain groups like women, tribals and Dalits have been left behind, India has fallen back. Spelling out his priorities for India's growth, he said, "The biggest danger is excluding people, the poor, the middle class, the tribals, the Dalits. Whenever we excluded women, the minorities, Dalits... we have always fallen back."

Gandhi said, "India is the largest pool of human capital people have ever known, and probably will ever know. It was this movement of people... this tremendous movement of people and ideas that is going to define this country in the 21st century." "Democracy and technology have triggered a non-reversible chain reaction in India. This reaction is unstoppable, nobody can stop it," he said.

Gandhi said, "The government cannot build infrastructure alone. We need your (the industry's) help. It has to be done jointly. It is our duty to provide India with a physical infrastructure to enable this unprecedented movement of people and ideas.”

'Faster economic growth under UPA'

India had witnessed faster economic growth under the UPA because it had greatly lowered tensions among communities and fostered harmony, the Congress Vice-President said. "When you play the politics of alienating communities, you stop the movement of people and ideas. When that happens we all suffer. Businesses suffer and the seeds of disharmony are sown and the dreams of our people are severely disrupted," he said, adding that this damage takes a very long time to reverse.

Likening India to a movement where a billion people were trying to break the shackles, he said there was a need to use the energy and ideas generated by this exercise to help everybody.  "There are two ways this movement can go. It can go harmoniously or it can go disruptively. The idea of the Congress party is that it should go harmoniously and everybody should move together and happily," he said.

Industry chamber CII's annual general meetings, over the years, have seen many political bigwigs cutting across party lines making an appearance to enunciate their vision for economic growth. Congress President and Rahul's mother Sonia Gandhi has attended the meeting at least twice in the past. This year's AGM was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday.

Rahul says he won't be PM candidate

Rahul rubbished speculation that he may be the prime ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections saying, “These are irrelevant questions. It's all smoke.”


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