The coronavirus pandemic has affected the global economy to a scale that recovery will take a considerable amount of time. The Indian economic infrastructure has also not been spared by the malady, even as the deadline for the second nationwide lockdown draws to a close.
In an exclusive interview with ET Now, Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy shared his thoughts and anecdotes on how the Indian government should go about planning the recovery of the economy.
Among other things he also said that Indians would have to adapt and learn to live with the virus for the next 12-18 months. To add to this, he said that companies will have to take precautions and the Indian workforce would have to put in extra work hours if they are to help the economy recover.
Precautions & Steps Should be ‘Data-Driven’
Murthy emphasised on the use of data to formulate policies and precautions and said that he would consider opening segments of the economy based on data.
“Let data lead us to the decisions, we should not rely on opinions.”NR Narayana Murthy, Co-founder, Infosys
He also added the importance of using mathematics, statistics, running simulations, and conducting scenario analysis.
Based on the result and the present scenario he recommended the government adopt strategies to ensure that companies start operations by operating in multiple shifts so there aren’t many people in the building at the same time.
The company could also offer protection to the employees by proving them with personal protection equipment like gowns, gloves, masks, and goggles – with a watch on how much they will cost.
“I would have made an analysis and said, let the less vulnerable work with protective gear and let elderly people work from home or from their own offices.”NR Narayana Murthy, Co-founder, Infosys
Positives & Negatives of Lockdown
Murthy talked about both the positives and negatives of the lockdown and how it has impacted the economy. He also highlighted the need to ramp up testing facilities in India.
Here are some of the positives and negatives he talked about:
- India recognised this danger in its early stage and took necessary precautions to decelerate the spread of the virus itself is a big positive.
- Majority of the political parties irrespective of their ideologies have fully cooperated and have worked with the government both at the Centre and the state government level.
- Food and cash supply have been made available for a significant part of the daily wage workers both in rural and urban India.
- India have not been able to ramp up testing facilities to the required levels. Even if we are able to test one lakh people a day we would take 37 years to cover the entire population.
- There have not been any contributions by an Indian institute of higher learning in science or engineering to have designed a finger pricking test for the virus or at least for antibodies.
- Unlike in developed countries, interim financing has not been provided to Indian startups or mid-sized companies and also the workers in these companies like in several developed nations.
Need to Work Longer & Harder
NMN Murthy emphasised about how Indians will have to put in extra work hours in order to help the economy recover.
“We should take a pledge that we will work ten hours a day, six days a week - as against 40 hours a week - for the next 2-3 years so that we can fast-track and grow the economy much faster. On the side of the government, they should appoint a committee of well-respected and accomplished people to advise them on how to remove hassles for these businesses, like during the economic reforms of 1991. If we did these two, by and large, we will come out of this much stronger,”NR Narayana Murthy, Co-founder, Infosys
The 10-hour daily shift idea didn’t go well with a lot of people on Twitter who said that they were already working 10-hours a day amid the work from home phase.
When asked about the work from home culture that is presently in effect, Murthy said that there needs to be productivity standards that need to be put in place as work from home will become a norm in the days to come.