Published: 21st September 2017
My name is Gandhi. If it'd been Ahmed, I wouldn't have been here: How Varun Gandhi slayed nepotism and his Gandhi tag
Varun Gandhi, who spoke at GLIM in Chennai, condemned TN's MLAs for taking a hike while their farmers were protesting in Delhi
For someone who has always worn the Gandhi name rather proudly, Sultanpur MP Varun Gandhi seems to be on a staunch anti-nepotism, anti-hierarchy trip these days.
Addressing the students, he said that one of the problems in this country is that "it lacks new blood". He said: "My name is Varun Feroz Gandhi. If my name was Shukla or Ahmed or whatever, I would not have been given this opportunity to come and speak to you."
He spoke at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, as a part of its ‘Distinguished Thought Leadership Series’ on Thursday.
He also said that If someone was educated, ambitious and determined then you should be able to lead the country. That's how the system should change. Addressing over 600 students and members of the faculty at Great Lakes, Gandhi spoke on the “Road to India’s Future: Opportunities and Challenges”.
Leaders of tomorrow: Varun Gandhi spoke at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, as a part of its ‘Distinguished Thought Leadership Series’ on Thursday
Did the politicians earn their raise?
Gandhi expressed ridicule over the raise that politicians are able to fetch themselves. "I am not in principle against them getting a raise. But, I am against the institutionalisation of the fact that whenever they want, they can get together and get the raise. You can't just wake up in the morning and say "today I will double my salary." I would be a happier world if you do that but unfortunately you can't," he said.
Reflecting on how this disparity had shocked him in connection with the Tamil farmers who were protesting with skulls in Delhi, he said, "I went to Jantar Mantar where farmers from TN were agitating. They were in the most terrible condition. They got skulls of fellow farmers who had committed suicide. They were drinking their own urine to express their frustration with the system that has not delivered them justice. I met them. The next day, I read in the paper that the Tamil Nadu Assembly had allocated to itself a double increase to its wages. And I was horrified."
I want to tell you that I am the only Lok Sabha member who has not drawn his salary. Every month I would write a letter to NGOs name or a farmers name and ask them to send my salary there. And when the raise came, I wrote the letter to the Prime Minister and I said I will not accept this raise. I think this is immoral
Varun Gandhi, BJP MP
"If I would have known that farmers of my state are sitting in the national capital and drinking their urine, the last thing on my mind should be giving myself a raise," he added, generating an applause from the students.
Incidentally, Varun also said that he hadn't drawn his MP salary in years, "I want to tell you that I am the only Lok Sabha member who has not drawn his salary. Every month I would write a letter to an NGOs name or a farmers name and ask them to send my salary there. And when the raise came, I wrote the letter to the Prime Minister and I said I will not accept this raise. I think this is immoral," he added.
Fight corruption with technology
Clearly, there is a lot wrong with the system. And Gandhi has a means to fight one of the problems — corruption. "In India, let's be honest. If you go to your local administrator. and say listen, there is a road being built and there is no good material used to build it, he will say you can go this is not your work. And we all know why they say that. And we must use technology to make the system transparent and make information publically available. That's one way to fight corruption."
While welcoming Varun Gandhi, Great Lakes’ Founder, Dean and Chairman Dr Bala V Balachandran said, "Hosting such talks is Great Lakes’ contribution in providing you a platform to engage and share knowledge, insights with decision makers and corporate leaders of India.”