Rahul Gandhi is precious.
On Thursday, Rahul Gandhi released a video on YouTube filmed at a photo exhibition held by Indian Youth Congress (IYC) in Delhi on his father, Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi, before becoming the Prime Minister of India was a commercial airlines pilot.
The six minute monologue by Rahul Gandhi has left us with more questions than answers.
Let me walk you through the joy of flight.
The camera pans at a hall full of pictures and suddenly Rahul Gandhi appears bobbing around looking at the pictures. He then points to a picture and says that the plane in the picture is one DC-3 plane. In the picture one can see a child holding hand of a man walking with two women. He says that DC-3 plane is the one Rajiv Gandhi first flew commercially in.
Camera pans towards a picture of Rajiv Gandhi inside a cockpit and Rahul then says, “that’s the real thing.” Flaunting his privilege, Rahul Gandhi then says that whenever he flew with his father, who was at that time the son of the Prime Minister of India and Rahul himself was the grandson of Prime Minister of India, he would be made to sit in the cockpit.
“What he would do is ask me questions about the instruments and we would do the flight-check together. So we would walk around the plane and he would ask me what’s that and what’s that and what’s that and then later in college I learnt to fly,” he says. Showing off more of his privilege, he says how once he and his father went jetsetting from Jaipur to Udaipur to Mumbai and Srinagar. He adds how his father, son of India’s Prime Minister would take his son for a ‘surprise flight’ randomly.
“I remember I sat in the jumpseat. Those days it was pre-9/11 so you could sit in the jumpseat. I remember sitting in the jumpseat for the first time and him pointing out ‘different things’ and then starting the engine, which for ‘us mechanical people’ is ‘fantastic’,” he said.
Here, let us take a moment to understand how Rahul Gandhi’s pilot father would take him for joyrides just like that when going for work. I remember how once my mother, a government employee back then, took a 7 year old me to her office under exceptional circumstances because no one was there to take care of me back home. All I got that day was one dairy milk chocolate from her boss. Rahul Gandhi got to fly on an airplane because his father was a pilot.
Also, what is ‘us mechanical people’? Does he mean he works mechanically, like a robot? But that description has been reserved for another politician from the UPA era.
“I can still remember it. And then there was a problem. There was some technical problem so it was delayed. So I spent quite a lot of time in the cockpit when my father was trying to fix the problem in the ground. And then I remember when we took off… <strategic pause> wonderful,” he said.
At this point, one expected that Rahul Gandhi would perhaps elaborate a little on what the problem was or how his father ‘fixed it’, but he seemed distracted like some kids these days with attention span of five seconds.
He then suddenly talks about being a pilot and risks one takes. This is where he starts to talk about the plane crash which took the life of his uncle and Rajiv Gandhi’s brother, Sanjay Gandhi. “My father told my uncle… because my uncle was flying a very particular type of plane, its a very aggressive plane. My father told him, you know, don’t do this. My uncle didn’t really have the experience. My uncle had similar hours to what I have, about 300-350 hours. And he shouldn’t have been flying that plane and he flew it and that’s what happens when you don’t have experience and you fly,” he said.
“It is easy to kill yourself,” he said.
Essentially, Rahul Gandhi said that because his uncle had as much experience as he did on flying planes, and that he didn’t have ‘enough’ experience, he crashed his plane and died.
At around 4 minute mark, Rahul Gandhi then talks about how pilots have a different ‘vision’ which is ‘not blocked by roads and railways’.
“Pilots have a very particular ability that comes from their training. And it is this idea that you have to move from a 30,000 foot vision to details in the cockpit. If you lose track of the details into cockpit you will run into trouble and if you lose track of the 30,000 foot picture, you will run into trouble. So the pilot, and I am one, we move from these two spaces very seamlessly and very quickly,” he says.
One is not sure if Rahul ‘mechanical’ Gandhi has been on the driving seat (or should I say flying seat?) of any other vehicles, but that’s pretty much how most vehicles are driven. You need to keep tab of the controls as well as keep your eye on the road. As they say, ‘savdhani hati, durghatna ghati‘. That is also how most things work, in fact. But that’s not it. He brought in this obscure logic for the follow up gem.
The video then shows a montage of various pictures of Rajiv Gandhi and one can notice a change in Rahul Gandhi’s voice, as if it is recorded and overlaid on the montage and then snipped and snapped into the video haphazardly.
“Also when they fly, their imagination is not blocked by roads, railway lines, their imagination is 30,000 feet. So they ability to see large systems. This is what really helped my father,” he says.
Oh. My. God. So, when a person is driving on the road, the railway crossing is ‘imagination’? Isn’t it a driver’s skill that he manages to manoeuvre the vehicle through various obstacles like other drivers, roads, pedestrians, road blockades like how sometimes there are structures like mazars which appear on flyovers? How are these obstacles ‘imagination’? And how does that make ‘pilot’ such as himself and his father better at ‘vision switching’?
“I could see this process taking place where he would go and meet people, get into their details, understand their details and instantly move to 30-40-50 thousand feet and look at the big picture. And his work was constantly moving between these two perspectives. And always understanding that imagination can bridge anything. That was a very powerful thing my father had,” he says.
Not kidding. He really did say this. He credited his father’s so-called ability to switch from details to a bigger, macro picture to his being a pilot.
Suddenly, the camera again shifts to Rahul Gandhi bobbing around at the photo exhibition and he points to some pictures and as suddenly as the montage begins, it ends.