India flattened the wrong curve: Rajiv Bajaj tells Rahul Gandhi on Covid-19 battle
“You (the government) have not solved that problem. But you have definitely decimated the economy. You flattened the wrong curve. It is not the infection curve, it is the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) curve. This is what we have ended up with, the worst of both the worlds,” Bajaj told former Congress president Rahul Gandhi during an interaction via video link.Updated: Jun 04, 2020 18:29 IST
Rajiv Bajaj, managing director (MD) of Bajaj Auto, has said that the nationwide coronavirus disease (Covid-19)-induced lockdown restrictions have decimated the country’s economy instead of flatting the infection curve of the raging viral outbreak.
“You (the government) have not solved that problem. But you have definitely decimated the economy. You flattened the wrong curve. It is not the infection curve, it is the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) curve. This is what we have ended up with, the worst of both the worlds,” Bajaj told former Congress president Rahul Gandhi during an interaction via video link.
“The way India has been locked down is draconian. This kind of lockdown, I have not heard about from anywhere else,” he said.
Lockdown 5:0 has come into effect from June 1 even though the nationwide restrictions, which were imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of the pandemic, have been largely eased in a bid to open up economic activities.
Bajaj also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to spell out how the country would move forward after the lockdown is fully lifted, claiming that the unlocking would be anything but smooth.
“I am really distressed because it is a herculean task to open up economic activities. The first problem is to get this fear out of the minds of the people. There has to be a very clear aligned narrative from the PM because, whether right or wrong, when he says something people seem to follow,” he said.
“I think the PM needs to tell everyone that this is how we are going to move forward. Everything is under control. Don’t be afraid of the viral infections, only a few people are dying, and we have to move forward now,” added Bajaj.
He stressed the need for a stimulus to lift the demand and revive the Covid-19 battered economy.
“I strongly believe that a large country such as India cannot save itself out of trouble. It has to sell itself out of trouble. We have to get demand going again. We have to provide something that lifts the mood of the people. We need some mood elevators. I don’t understand why there is no strong initiative, even if it is for a period of six months to one year, to strongly lift the mood of the people and provide a stimulus to demand,” Bajaj said.
The industrialist wondered the reason behind India’s reluctance not to focus in Asia and only looked at the west such as Italy, France, Spain, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (USA).
“Unfortunately, India not only looked at the west, but it also went to the wild west. I think we have stayed more towards the impervious side. We tried to implement a hard lockdown, which was still porous. I think we have ended up with the worst of both the worlds,” he said.
He also said the country has fallen “very short” of disclosing facts, logic, and the truth on the viral outbreak.
“This has got amplified and instilled such an enormous fear in the minds of the people that they seem to think that the contagion is equal to cancer or another life-threatening disease. Now, the government’s new narrative is to make the people comfortable with the thought of living with the virus,” added Bajaj.
The dialogue was a part of Gandhi’s series of video conversations with global and Indian thought leaders to discuss the Covid-19 crisis and its consequences on the country’s economy.
He has interacted with former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan, Nobel Laureate Professor Abhijit Banerjee, Harvard Professor Ashish Jha, and Swedish epidemiologist Johan Giesecke since the viral outbreak.