The former RBI governor said extension of lockdown would diminish the government's credibility
On the issue of migrant workers, Rajan said the government needed to provide them money and food for 3-4 months
Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Raghuram Rajan on Thursday told Congress’ former president Rahul Gandhi that the government needed to provide ₹65,000 crore to alleviate the impact of covid-19 pandemic on the poor. Rajan and Gandhi were in a close to 30-minute conversation with Gandhi that was posted on micro blogging website twitter.
“Dr. Rajan, kitna paisa lagega gareebon ki madad karne ke liye? (Dr Rajan, how much money will be needed to help the poor?)," Gandhi asked Rajan in Hindi a video chat. “Takreeban, 65,000 crore. (Around ₹65,000) ," the former central banker said. Most of the conversation between the two happened in English.
Rajan said extension of lockdown would mean “you haven’t been completely successful in reopening. It does diminish credibility." He added that achieving zero infected case is unachievable.
The government has allowed lifting of the lockdown from 4 May, and on Wednesday, issued guidelines to states on how to go about it without hurting the success achieved in containing the pandemic so far.
“There has to be prioritization because our capacity and resources are limited. Certainly our financials are more limited than the west. So when the economy opens up, we are able to walk away from the sick bed. Food is very important. You have to treat this pandemic as a situation which is unprecedented," Rajan told Gandhi.
On the issue of migrant workers, he said the government needed to provide them money and food for the next three to four months. “This is for saving them and so we must do," he said.
Rajan, now a professor of finance at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, said pandemics like covid-19 rarely have positive effects for any country but there are ways countries like India can take advantage of them.
“India can play a role in shaping the dialogue. It is big enough to make sure its voice is heard. It can try and mould the dialogue towards one which has place for more countries in a multi polar world order," he said.
Rajan cautioned that “What you see is a great sense of disempowerment in the world" and hence decentralization was important for giving empowerment to the people.
According to a senior party functionary, more such engagements of Gandhi with sectoral experts and eminent public personalities are expected to take place over the next few months. “It is a constant process and at different levels of the party we keep engaging with stakeholders. We are planning that more such interactions of Rahul Gandhi will take place with experts to put the spotlight on key issues," the party functionary had told Mint on Wednesday.
The move, the first of its kind, is seen as marking a shift in the image of Gandhi who, after a long hiatus, is taking steps to be more involved in the functioning of the party. Gandhi resigned as Congress president in July last year after his party’s debacle in the general elections but speculation over his return to the top job has mounted in the party over the last few months.
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