Congress party scion Rahul Gandhi, long seen as the youth leader, turned a year older on Monday, 19 June. At 47, Gandhi is the Vice President of a party which has been leading a beleaguered existence lately – with drubbings in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as well as the subsequent state assembly polls.
On the occasion of his birthday, we take a look not at his oft-discussed political life, but the one before that.
Born into India’s grand old political family – which boasts of three domineering prime ministers in Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi – the weight of expectations must have been heavy on junior Gandhi from the very beginning.
The Delhi-born Rahul was much-loved in the family, going by this letter from Indira Gandhi to Dorothy Norman that refers to her young grandson quite fondly:
My grandson Rahul is a darling. He has got rid of his wrinkles and still has his double chin!Indira Gandhi in a Letter
Prestigious Education and the Corporate Sector
For his education, Rahul Gandhi went to the most prestigious institutions – starting from Doon School, then pursuing History Honours at St. Stephen’s College (which he did not complete), Economics at Harvard and ultimately an MPhil in Development Economics from Cambridge University’s Trinity College.
In fact, at Doon, the school-going Rahul had Jyotiraditya Scindia as his roommate – now a fellow Congress young gun from Madhya Pradesh.
A pithy quote of Rahul’s Harvard batchmate gives us a glimpse into his mind when he was young:
He always maintained that he did not want to enter politics. He was more interested in lawRahul’s Harvard batchmate, as quoted in an India Today report
Notably, at Harvard, his education was cut short as the assassination of his father Rajiv Gandhi led to grave security concerns.
In what may come as a surprise to some, Rahul got considerable work experience in the corporate sector before joining politics. He had a stint at a management consulting firm called Monitor Group in London and then moved on to run an IT company called Strategy Consulting in Mumbai.
Educational and professional qualifications aside, Rahul Gandhi has varied interests –from shooting and adventure sports, being a technology enthusiast, to even having a flying licence.
Coping With Family Assassinations
During his youth, Gandhi had to cope with two losses – first his grandmother in 1984, when he was 14, and then his father in 1991, when was 21. Both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were assassinated, the former by Sikh extremists and the latter by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Finally, the Political Plunge
Thirteen years after his father’s assassination, the junior Gandhi finally announced in 2004 that he would be contesting the Lok Sabha elections. He stood from the constituency that his father represented – Amethi – and won comfortably.
When Rahul finally took the political plunge, he was inevitably compared with his father – physical resemblance being only one of the various aspects.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had this to say at the time, as quoted in the India Today report:
Rahul is hi-tech savvy, strategy-oriented and data-hungry. Very caring, very solicitous. In many ways, he is a combination of Rajiv Gandhi and Sam PitrodaJairam Ramesh on Rahul Gandhi
The rest, as they say, is history, with his political life followed closely, speculated diversely and documented exhaustively.
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