COVID-19: India Needs Rs 65k Crore to Aid Poor, Rajan Tells Rahul
In conversation with Gandhi, Rajan said that that COVID-19 pandemic must be treated as an unprecedented situation.
Highlighting the importance of prioritising resources to keep the economy stable, former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan on Thursday, 30 April, spoke to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, as part of the latter’s dialogue series with experts on economy and public health, in light of the COVID-19 health crisis.
“There has to be a prioritisation as our capacities are limited. We need to decide how do we keep economy together so that when we re-open it's itself able to walk off the sick bed and not be impaired at that point. Most immediately, I think keep people well & alive,” Rajan said.
He added that that pandemic must be treated as an unprecedented situation.
“We have to break norms in order to tackle what is needed, while at the same time keeping in mind that there are only so many resources we have,” Rajan told Rahul.
‘India Needs to Be Clever, Open Economy in Measured Way’
The former RBI governor said that India needs to be cleverer in lifting 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,
To Gandhi’s question on how much money would be needed to help the poor in the current situation, the former RBI chief said India needs Rs 65,000 crore to help the poor in the times of pandemic and considering its total GDP, it can afford to do that.
“We have to be cleverer about opening up...We need to open up in a measured way but as fast as possible so that people start having jobs. We don't have the capacity to support people across the spectrum for too long. Being a relatively poor country, people start out with significantly lower reserves,” Rajan said.
He added that while it was easy to shut down the economy for a long time, that would be “unsustainable for the economy”.
‘Social Harmony is a Public Good’
Gandhi said infrastructure connects people and that gives opportunity, but if there are division and hatred, that disconnects people. Agreeing with Gandhi, Rajan said, "Social harmony is a public good. Having everyone believe that they are a part of this system, an equal part of the system is essential. We cannot afford to be a house divided especially in these times when our challenges are so big."
Gandhi will also be later having dialogues with health experts on how to deal with the pandemic, besides talking to experts in different fields on the effect of the novel coronavirus, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said.
Rajan said that India would have to test close to 2 million people a day, to get the same amount of confidence that the US has, when it comes to reopening the economy.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)
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