x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Uni life: his alma mater seems to be Rahul Gandhi’s only saving grace

The Indian politician Rahul Gandhi gave his first interview in a decade – and he blew it, utterly unable to parry attacks. Sadly, he's a Cambridge man.

When the Indian politician Rahul Gandhi gave his first sit-down television interview in a decade, it made headlines in India and abroad. He’s a bigwig; his mother, Sonia Gandhi is the leader of the Congress party; many assume he may, some day, be the prime minister of India. This matters to us because he’s from Trinity College, Cambridge – as were his father, Rajiv Gandhi, and his great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, before him.

Unfortunately, Rahul blew his first interview, which was with Arnab Goswami from Times Now, by repeating the same, irrelevant response many times over and being utterly unable to parry attacks.

On being asked his opinion about the role of the political contender Narendra Modi in the Godhra massacre, Rahul rambled on about women’s empowerment. The question was repeated close to 10 times, with Rahul sounding like a stuck gramophone. It’s frustrating to be asked something when you’ve only learnt the answers to a different set of questions. As students, we can relate to this completely.

“Now, can you point out the surface markings of the heart on the skeleton?” the professor asks, pleasantly. You nod thoughtfully. “Well,” you begin, gesturing vaguely to the top of the skeleton’s arm.

“The heart, not the biceps, please,” says the professor. You mumble something about the heart pumping blood to organs – like the brain. Your finger floats up to the region of the skull, as the professor coughs.

Similarly, when asked about his view on LPG cylinders and inflation, the gist of Gandhi’s answer was that women and the youth need to be empowered and that women are the backbone of the country.

Journalists and people on social media are falling over their feet to make fun of him, but I feel sorry for him. There’s some alma-mater spirit fighting to defend another Indian who studied at Trinity.

Is Gandhi scared of a face-off with Modi, pressed the interviewer. The reply didn’t quite tally: “I lost the people closest to me when I was a child. Now I am not scared of anything.” And, when asked again: “You are a journalist. When you were small, you must have said to yourself, I want to do something, you decided to become a journalist. Why did you do that?” Asking a question in response to a question? We’ve pulled that card far too many times in exams, hoping it’ll make us look like out-of-the-box thinkers. Scribbling “What is life? How do we know we exist?” beneath incomprehensible questions confirms we have no idea what’s going on.

It didn’t get better when it transpired that Goswami, who grilled Gandhi good and proper, is from Oxford – we don’t think much of creatures from The Other Place. Goswami also had a stint at Cambridge’s Sidney Sussex, our neighbouring college. We don’t think much of that, either. “Well,” declared Gandhi, at one point, “I was at Trinity.” Irrelevant as it was to the question posed by the swift-talking Goswami, at least Rahul’s got something good going for him.

The writer is an 18-year-old student at Cambridge who grew up in Dubai

artslife@thenational.ae