What Indian Leaders Can Learn From Fidel Castro & His Struggle

Castro’s struggle against the State should inspire Indian leaders to cultivate the youth for a better tomorrow.

4 min read
Hindi Female

He called himself a blend of “Socialist, a Marxist, and a Leninist”, survived assassinations, dodged poisoned cigars, romanced guerrilla warfare: the “crazy one”, who took it upon himself to speak for the unredeemed masses of Cuba. Fidel Castro, an illegitimate child born to a former soldier and fiery mother never shied away from wielding the gun to protect himself or his friends.

From a very young age, Castro was known to mean what he said. He did not flirt with the idea of being politically correct. He believed in taking the system by its horns. He tested the tenacity of democracy time and again, by exercising the innate right of every citizen to express himself against the system. Castro rebelled against the economic colonialism and social imperialism that had diseased Cuba under the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.


Known For His Fearlessness

While Cuba was one of the three wealthiest countries in the hemisphere, the country was frustrated with jobless youth, landless peasants, underpaid teachers, venality, limited industrialisation, and state monopoly. While Fidel Castro held United States responsible for Cuba’s waning socio-economic health, it is noteworthy that John F. Kennedy approved of first Cuban revolutionaries, who were completely justified in fighting for themselves. A trained lawyer, Fidel Castro was consumed by his passion for politics. Fidel fomented a movement that was based on struggle against oppression, unemployment, and social injustice.

He encouraged people to be fearless and intolerant to absolutism. He touched a chord with the common man, who had been deceived for generations by the rich and powerful. For example, the mortality rate of rural children was a staggering 90 percent. These children died due to ground infection, since they could not afford footwear. Fidel’s fearlessness to voice for the larger good, at a time when the State had made a mockery of human lives by forcing them to survive under inhumane conditions, made him an instant hero. He was able to convince the masses, that the only way to liberate themselves from the clutches of poverty and misery was to fight for themselves. Fidel Castro advocated a model that was based on the tenets of equal opportunity, employment, and equitable distribution of resources.


Challenging the Status Quo

He is known to have said “never say no to India”, when Vice-President Hamid Ansari paid him a visit in October, this year. In 2006, Fidel Castro stepped down as the President of Cuba. Castro’s fondness for India has been documented on multiple occasions since 1953.

Castro has left behind a message, that shall resonate with political leaders across the globe for many years to come. He has given a warning to all those leaders who dare to take their citizens for granted.

Castro’s movement highlights the vulnerability of a State that is not able to create the right jobs, provide for the homeless, and control socio-economic inequalities. Irrespective of the religion, race, gender, caste, and ideology of a leader, a nation that is populated with unemployed youth is bound to create a Fidel Castro who will challenge the status quo, question the treasury benches, and create upheaval.

Indian history is replete with examples of common men, who refused to prostrate themselves before a system that ignored the masses. Be it Netaji or Bhagat Singh or Mahatma Gandhi, each of them mobilised the nation against the atrocities of the British Raj in their own way. Their methods may be different, but each of them rebelled against the social and economic carnage of the English in India.

 Castro’s struggle against the State should inspire Indian leaders to cultivate the youth for a better tomorrow.
It is the weak public education system that paralyses the young workforce from a very early age. (Photo: PTI)

Investing in Students for a Better Tomorrow

Even today, the Indian youth does not hesitate to question the role of the State. What one yearns for is an affordable and effective education system that transforms young students into competent and responsible citizens. The need of the hour is a job market that provides opportunities to all. Prime Minister Modi has a mammoth task of delivering 1 million jobs a month for the next ten years to cope with its problem of unemployment. He has been at it through the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Start-Up India’ initiatives.

However, it is the weak public education system that paralyses the young workforce from a very early age. Quality of education at primary and secondary public schools in non-urban areas calls for urgent attention. We need to have at least one world class university in the country. Frequent exodus of renowned scholars at Nalanda University, cannot be ignored.

The State needs to minimise intervention, provide merit-based scholarships, and regulate monetary dimensions of private education. Indian students are desperate migrants, primarily because of the trust deficit in the system. They are willing to struggle in a foreign land, because they have lost faith in their own. They are unsure of their future in their own homeland, which is a very scary situation. India’s youth are its “economic soldiers” and we need to arm them with ammunition, not use them as vote peddlers.

“Today, the entire country is an immense University” – Fidel Castro (1926-2016)

RIP Castro, Cigars and Carnival


(The writer is Associate Fellow at Pahle India Foundation and can be reached @gunjakapoor. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

Also Read: With Fidel Castro Gone, What Lies Ahead For US-Cuba Relationship?

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Topics:  Fidel Castro   Cuba-US 

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