"Big statements are made about India being a superpower.
What superpower? I will rather make a woman safe in a bus than (India) being a superpower," Gandhi said in an interaction with students at the Don Bosco University here.
"Are you comfortable in a bus? Are you treated well on the streets when you walk?" he asked girl students.
"It is complete nonsense. There is no way this country can be a superpower if Kakoli (a student who asked him a question on respecting women) is feeling scared to go in a bus. How can we call ourselves a superpower if a young girl of this country is scared to go in a bus?" he asked.
"Fifty per cent of the country are women and if you are to ask any of them whether they feel comfortable in a bus, whether they can walk around comfortably, whether India treats them comfortably ... every single one will say no, they do not feel safe and are not represented in our political system," the Congress leader said.
"And I think boys should think about this. It is at the end of the day that boys who treat women badly. This is a message to them ... these women are 50 per cent of the country, these are mothers and sisters," Gandhi said.
"Women go every day in a bus, go for an interview and are treated badly. When you go for an interview, I am sorry to say, but if you are a woman you can expect to be discriminated. You can also expect discrimination when you are working. Why don't we talk about that?" Gandhi asked.
"In my mind I have 45 years of experience that women are at least smarter than men. They are more intelligent than men, more capable than men. Yet we spend our whole time in this country every day disrespecting them and we talk about super power," the Congress leader said.
"Sorry to be angry, but I am emotional about this because I have been brought up in a family where women are treated well, they are powerful," he said.
"My father (Rajiv Gandhi) treated my sister exactly as me. My grandmother (Indira Gandhi) was the boss of the family.
My father listened to my grandmother. So that is the family where I come from," he said.
"People focus when there is a rape case. The entire country gets up and focuses on the rape case. That is very important because these type of crimes should be punished. But what we don't focus on is the everyday problem women face," Gandhi said.
"How many women do you see in Parliament, in Vidhan Sabhas, business? So it's not only about rape. Rape is the extreme manifestation. It is the suffering of the women every single day," he said.
"And people talk about rape. That is a physical rape ... every day women are facing trouble, insulted, feeling hurt. Why don't we talk about that? We do it not only to our women, but to our poor people, anybody weak in India is treated such one way or the other," he said.
"We distrust everybody. Nobody wants to fight this battle, women are insulted every single day. We put it in a newspaper that a woman is raped. It is very important that it goes in the newspaper. They are rapists and they are punished.
But what about her?," he said.