S Jaishankar Explains How Sam Pitroda’s Remarks Stem From A “Colonial Mindset”

Sam Pitroda’s controversial comments were not a slip of the tongue but revealed the mindset of his Congress party and that of the people he has mentored, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in a veiled reference to Rahul Gandhi.

Sam Pitroda resigned as the party’s overseas unit chief after stoking a major controversy this week with his remarks during a podcast where he cited ethnic and racial identities like Chinese, Africans, Arabs and Whites to describe the physical appearance of Indians from different parts of the country.

“I think what he was saying probably is what is the talk in the circles which he inhabits, possibly shared by people he has mentored, and I think there were two parts of it which were troubling for me,” Mr Jaishankar told PTI in an exclusive interview at the news agency’s headquarters late Thursday.

“One what you referred to as typecasting and racial stereotyping. I think that was troubling for me. The second was actually a sense that you know what the remark implies — that there are very different people, and somehow somebody has put it together, it has taken some kind of effort to bring them altogether, to make India. I find that even more troubling,” he said.

“Because that is actually the colonial way of trying to define India. That you know, it took some outside force; it took some external force or some inorganic effort to put a country together. I think we have a natural organic unity,” he said.

Sam Pitroda was an advisor to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and has been closely associated with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, accompanying him during his foreign visits.

The external affairs minister said Mr Pitroda’s remarks reflected a certain kind of thinking.

“To me, India is a civilisation; it is a belief system in a way. It is something which is in our soul, it is in our sort of spirit, and clearly he does not share it,” he said.

Mr Jaishankar further added, “To me, this is a certain kind of thinking, a thinking which likes to… which has actually assumed we are in bits and pieces and somewhere in their view, some ruler or maybe some family, somebody has put something together.” The external affairs minister said Mr Pitroda’s remarks “revealed” the Congress’ “colonial mindset”.

Asked whether he was willing to put the remarks as an immature comment , Mr Jaishankar said, “You know, he is not exactly a young person so you can’t say it is immature. Here is a person who has been around a lot.”

“You know, there’s a saying that the ‘slip of the tongue is a slip of the mind’. So it’s actually a mind speaking. It’s a mindset…I would only suggest, a person was being around that long, this is clearly the mindset of a party and mindset of a set of people.”

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