Sonia to Cong: Respond to demanding, changing India

FP

Underscoring the need to respond to the "more aspirational and more impatient" youth and urban middle classes, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Friday set the tone for the party's chintan shivir, saying they needed to be pragmatic in encouraging investment that will generate employment.

While this came as an endorsement of the government's recent thrust on economic reforms, the fact that inflation or price-rise found no mention in her opening address indicated the ruling party's willingness to own responsibility for the government's economic policy.

Sonia spoke at length about atrocities on women, reflecting the public outrage over the gangrape of a student in a bus in Delhi last month. But she was measured in her reaction to the brutal killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops on the border last week. She stressed on the need for better and closer relations with India's neighbours, but added, "Let us be clear. Our dialogue must be based on accepted principles of civilised behaviour. We will never compromise on our vigil and preparedness to deal with terrorism and threats on our border."

"I must say with the greatest anguish and pain that discrimination against the girl child continues.

Atrocities on women, both in urban and rural India, are a blot on our collective conscience and a matter of great shame.gender issues are fundamental.the entire party must understand them and bring them to the heart of our political activity and change mindsets," she said.

A third of delegates at the conclave were elected office-bearers of the Youth Congress and the NSUI. While Rahul Gandhi was instrumental in bringing them, Sonia's focus on the aspirations of youth appeared to be driven by recent developments such as the spontaneous street protests by large groups of youth against the gangrape.

"We have to recognize the new changing India, an India increasingly peopled by a younger, more aspirational, more impatient, more demanding and better educated generation.aided by the tools of the modern world - television, social media, mobile phones and the Internet - today's India is better informed and better equipped to communicate," she said.

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