Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has started apolitical web-based talk show with internationally acclaimed personalities to discuss ways to help India’s recovery post-Covid19 era.
Rahul held his first interaction with former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan who said India needs around Rs 65,000 crore to help the poor currently hit hard by the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
The 27-minute-long video clip was released on Thursday by the Congress on Twitter where the two had discussion on economy and way out of the crisis situation.
To a question on how much money will be needed help the poor currently hit hard by the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, Rajan said, “India will need Rs 65,000 crore, it is not that much to save the lives of the poor.”
The former RBI chief, speaking on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy, also said a prolonged lockdown would not be sustainable for the economy.
As Indian economic activity opens up after weeks, Rajan said steps should be taken to isolate new cases of coronavirus that emerge.
“A second lockdown will be even more devastating and will destroy people’s trust in the measures taken by the Government,” he said.
During the 30-minute interaction, Rajan also asked Rahul how he compared the response in India and the US to which the Congress leader replied that he saw deep-seated inequality in India as the biggest difference between the two nations.
“One of the things that annoys me is the level of inequality. A lot of social change required in India. Different States save different issues. A blanket solution will not work for India. But there is an element in our governance system of control. You cannot control Covid-19. But I think this is historic, even before the British. That is one of the challenges we are facing,” Rahul replied.
Rajan said it was “all too easy to have a lockdown forever”, but that would not be sustainable for the economy.
“We need to be cleverer in lifting the lockdown. We need to open up in a measured way as India does not have capacity to feed people for long. We have to manage the reopening so when there are cases we isolate them,” he said.
This is the first in a series of video-dialogues of Rahul with intellectuals on charting a path to recovery after the pandemic. The move is seen as an attempt to give the Gandhi scion a lead role in the main Opposition party’s offensive against the Government’s policies.
“I don’t think we have to aim for 100 per cent success that is zero cases when we open up. That’s unachievable. What we have to do is – manage the reopening so that when there are cases, we isolate them,” Rajan said.
Rajan also asserted that India cannot afford to be a divided house especially in times when “challenges are so big”.
“India needs to be cleverer in lifting the lockdown and open up its economy in a “measured way” soon as it does not have the capacity to support people across the spectrum for too long,” he said.
Rather than focus on distributing output, focus on distributing opportunities,” he said there is a need to empower local Governments, which are better placed to understand the needs of people.
His statement assumes significance as India’s many States have seen their revenue streams run dry amid the lockdown.
Rahul expressed his concern on the infrastructure of division and hatred causing great damage to society in middle of such a crisis to which Rajan said the country cannot afford to be a house divided at times of crisis like this. “Social harmony is a key infrastructure,” said Rajan.
Friday, 01 May 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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