Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi delivered a lecture at his alma mater, Cambridge University, on March 1, 2023, on the topic of ‘Learning to Listen in the 21st Century’. He spoke about the importance of listening to different perspectives and creating a democratic environment instead of a coercive one.
Rahul Gandhi, who is on a week-long tour of the United Kingdom, addressed students and faculty members at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) of Cambridge University. He said that listening was an art that required humility, curiosity and empathy. He also said that listening was essential for understanding complex problems and finding creative solutions.
He cited examples from his recent Bharat Jodo Yatra, a 2,200-mile (3,540 km) walk across India to protest against the BJP government’s policies and to connect with the people. He said that he learned a lot from listening to farmers, workers, women, youth and minorities who shared their grievances and aspirations with him.
He also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his authoritarian style of governance and accused him of silencing dissenting voices and undermining democratic institutions. He said that Modi was creating a coercive environment where people were afraid to speak their minds or question his decisions.
He called for a new thinking to promote a democratic environment globally where people could freely express their opinions and participate in decision-making processes. He said that democracy was not just about elections but also about dialogue and deliberation. He said that democracy was under threat from forces of hatred, violence and intolerance.
He urged the students and faculty members to listen to each other and learn from each other’s experiences and perspectives. He said that listening was not only beneficial for individuals but also for societies and nations. He said that listening could foster mutual respect, trust and cooperation among diverse groups of people.
He concluded his lecture by thanking Cambridge University for inviting him and giving him an opportunity to share his thoughts with them. He also thanked his teachers and mentors who taught him at Cambridge University when he pursued his M.Phil degree in Development Studies from 1994 to 1996.
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