To say that extremism is rising in India is nonsense: Rahul Bajaj
Rahul Bajaj, the Executive Chairman of the Indian two-wheeler and three-wheeler conglomerate Bajaj Auto Ltd and Member of Indian Parliament, is a Harvard Business School graduate. He was recently in Oslo to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. On the sidelines of the ceremony, Editor in Chief of The Oslo Times News Network, Hatef Mokhtar caught with him and discussed issues surrounding extremism, human rights, the Nobel Committee’s pick for the Nobel Peace Prize awardees, among others. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of today’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony?
Well, it was a great day for the Indians and Pakistanis. Nobel Prizes are given for quite a few fields and while Nobel Prizes for Chemistry, Physics and other areas, are given in Stockholm, its only the Nobel Peace Prize that is given in Oslo. I can’t speak for Malala, there are lots of Pakistanis here to speak. But speaking for India, Kailash Satyarthi is the second Indian to win a Nobel Peace Prize, after Mother Teressa. India has won Nobel Prizes for Physics, Chemistry, and Literature along the Nobel Peace Prize. We are proud of Mother Teresa, though she was not born in India. Satyarthis is the first India-born Indian to bag the price and this is a very important day for us.
What do you think of the rise of extremism in South Asian countries?
It’s important to understand and define what we mean by the word extremism, this could be the extremism of the left or the right. Extremism normally means not listening to reason, not maintaining a balance, wanting your view to prevail and sometimes leading to violence. It is not only limited South Asia, but prevails in many places across the world. The latest is ISIS. In India we have Maoist and naxalities. Everybody is entitled to express their view but the moment people are not willing to listen to the other person’s view, than that’s something I don’t agree with. Along with that I don’t like when you say that you want to overthrow a legitimately elected government, or don’t believe in democracy. I ponder why do such people exist? Satyatarthi and Malala were talking just things like these. How can people, or organizations – who ever they are- public sector or private sector, from which ever countries of the world, employ child labor, of any age from 5 to 16, exploit them, use violence – sexual, physical – traffick and prevent them from good education and health. How can they do that? Whatever extremism is, whether it was about the two awardees talked about or about ISIS, or of various kinds, which we have seen in the last one or two decades— it could be arising from poverty, or from religion, or from territories, or it maybe for power struggle? I don’t know. Each person, organization has its own philosophies.
Many people say that there is in extremism and in discrimination against Muslims in India. What are your views on this?
Well, this is a provocative and completely baseless question coming from you. To say that extremism is rising in India, is nonsense. There is extremism everywhere in the world. There is extremism in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the government admits it. We have, as I said in the very beginning, Maoism, and naxalities. But who says they are increasing, it is under control. We do not like what is there – I don’t like it. Religion, poverty – what is it there for? If it is poverty, government builds schools, hospitals, bridges – they destroy it. How can it be for poverty in such a scenario, where government is building it and they are destroying it and forcing the villagers to help them. It is to get to power. And with this government, they will never get into power. We can’t have illegitimate people taking people’s power.
Who are these illegitimate people?
Who don’t get elected and sent to parliament. I don’t care who they are. Fight elections, come to power – that’s the system all over the world, and we dismiss any other ruling system. We believe in parliamentary democracy.
How do you view the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan?
I don’t know enough about it, I am not a politician. I think Afghanistan wants good relationship with Pakistan and vice versa. And I know that Afghanistan wants good relationship with India also – their former President used to come to India at least once or twice a year for the last ten years. I don’t know whether Pakistan has some problems because of India’s good relationship with Afghanistan but I think as someone from Afghanistan you should answer that question. Ask Mr. Nawaz Sharif (Pakistan’s Prime Minister), of what Pakistan thinks of the relationship between India and Afghanistan. As far as India and Afghanistan is concerned, the relationship to the best of my knowledge, and I repeat I am not a politician, I am not in the government, are excellent and both side want to improve it further. We are investing there, for the Afghan people.
Are you happy with the Nobel Peace prize selection?
The ceremony is outstanding, very well arranged the Nobel committee chairman spoke very well and told Mr Satyarthi that his speech was the best he has heard in the last 17 years, both in terms of substance and emotions. The selection is appropriate. Satyarthi has done outstanding work for the last 34 years for exploited children. I don’t know Malala personally besides what the rest of the world knows about her. So I cant speak about her. The selection of the committee seems to be sending a message of peace by selecting a Pakistani and Indian laureate for the same Peace Prize.
What are human rights for you?
I am not a technical person to answer this question technically, but I could write a book trying to explain it. Generally human rights means that what God has given to us – right to life, right to education, right to good health, right to freedom, right to religion, should not be taken away from us. Human rights means, ‘don’t force me to do things, which I don’t want to do.’ This is what I understand of human rights. I am sure books can be written on human rights, and there some written on it.
All Rights Reserved with The Oslo Times