Rahul goes from karate and boxing to aikido

The Congress chief was replying to a student’s query at a Dubai management school on how India could improve its performance in world sports

  • Published 13.01.19, 3:21 AM
  • Updated 13.01.19, 3:21 AM
  • a min read
  •  
Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressing a press conference in Dubai on Saturday. (PTI Photo)

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, a self-proclaimed sports enthusiast and fitness freak, said on Saturday India couldn’t compete with rich nations at the Olympics as long as it had to grapple with basic livelihood concerns.

“Cricket is a big success in India because there is a support system…,” Rahul said. “But we can’t compete with nations like the US. The amount of money they spend on supporting their players, we can’t do. It is harder to make sports a priority when there is hunger, unemployment….”

Rahul was replying to a student’s query at a Dubai management school on how India could improve its performance in world sports.

Asked about his fitness regime, he said: “When I was small, I did taekwondo, swimming, karate. Then I played football and boxed. Now I do running and aikido. I am a black belt in aikido.”

He hastened to add that aikido was non-violent. “It is a martial art, more of a philosophy. It teaches you to read your opponent’s strength.”

As students were more interested in questions on brain drain, the education system in India and voting rights for NRIs, Rahul asked: “Am I allowed to ask questions?”

He then asked a female student who was ready with her own question: “What is the essence of India?”

He grabbed the student’s reply — “unity in diversity” — to elucidate on his pet theme.

He said: “India has taught me to look at a perspective that is completely different than me and accept it. India doesn’t force an idea on me. Many ideas came to India; they shaped India and India reshaped them. It teaches me to adopt a consensual approach.” 

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