The nationwide lockdown, in an attempt to contain the coronavirus pandemic, has decimated the economy and exposed us to the “worst of both worlds”, industrialist and Managing Director of Bajaj Auto Rajiv Bajaj said during a conversation with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on the economic fallout of the shutdown.
“But you have definitely decimated the economy. You flattened the wrong curve. It is not the infection curve, it is the GDP curve. This is what we have ended (up) with, the worst of both worlds,” he said.
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The industrialist also called the lockdown “draconian” and said such a situation was not even called for during the World War. “The way India has been locked down is a draconian lockdown. This kind of lockdown, I’m not hearing about from anywhere else,” he said.
The managing director of Bajaj Auto also said that is a herculean task to open up the economy and called for taking fear out of people’s minds through a “very clear, aligned narrative” from none other than the prime minister.
“On one hand a porous lockdown makes sure that the virus will still exist and as you said, it is still waiting to hit you when you will unlock. So you have not solved that problem,” he said.
Speaking on similar lines, the Congress leader said that the lockdown in India is the only kind in the world “where the disease is increasing after we are opening up.”
Bajaj also referred to instances of caning and other forms of “humiliation” against those who were found not wearing a mask. “Where is the proportion in the way we are treating our own people,” he asked.
Sharing the business community’s sentiments on the road to recovery, Bajaj said that “a large country like India cannot save itself out of trouble. It has to sell itself out of trouble.”
“We hear stories of people from Japan and USA getting 1,000 dollars per person as support, not as stimulus. We are not even talking about stimulus here. We are just talking about support, whether it is for big businesses, small business and for individuals,” he said.
The Congress leader also sought to know the industrialist’s views on how the manufacturing sector can be improved to compete on the global scale. “Companies must specialise. I think the simple meaning of strategy is specialisation,” Bajaj said.
Reiterating the need for a decentralised response to the situation, Gandhi said: “The central government has to operate as a support system and as an enabler. But then it moves the battle to the districts, to the chief ministers and allows them and enables them to fight.”
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