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Rs 65,000 Cr needed to feed India’s poor’: Raghuram Rajan to Rahul Gandhi on COVID-19

The former RBI governor further stated that India needs to be cleverer in lifting the lockdown as it has limited capacity to feed the poor.

SNS | New Delhi |

Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan in a video talk with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, streamed by the party, said that an amount of Rs 65,000 Crore is required to turn the situation around and feed the poor amist the Coronavirus crisis.

“Rs 65,000 crore is needed to feed the poor and India can afford it as the GDP is Rs 200 lakh crore,” adding that “Social harmony is a public good and we cannot afford to have our houses divided at the time when challenges are big”.

He said that there should be efforts to give money to the poor through DBT, MGNREGA, old age pension and also supporting through PDS.

Raghuram Rajan further stated that India needs to be cleverer in lifting the lockdown as it has limited capacity to feed the poor.

“There are ways country can take advantage but I think there will be no positive impact of this situation as there may be rethinking in global economy.”

“There will be strategic change but these types of pandemic have rarely any positive effects in general,” said Rajan in first of the video series started by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi with the hashtag “Rahul Shows The Way”.

The Congress leader, in the video chat. asked the ex-RBI governor what he perceived about the “crisis of centralisation”. Gandhi said that there is too much centralisation of power taking place and conversations are being stopped. “Conversations would help a lot of these problems that you are talking about but it is breaking for some reason,” he said.

On this, Raghuram Rajan replied that what we see across the world is a “great sense of disempowerment”.

“I have a vote but that elects someone in a far-off place. Local panchayats, State governments have less power. They don’t feel they can have a voice in anything so they become prey to different set of forces,” Rajan said.

He opined that decentralisation is important both for bringing more local information to work and giving empowerment to the people.

Rahul Gandhi said that the idea of governance in India is always about trying to control which he thinks is one of the challenges that the country is currently facing. He also asserted that the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be controlled, but it has got to be managed.

Speaking on employment during the crisis, Raghuram Rajan said the country’s youth needs good-quality jobs. Quoting the CMIE, the ex-RBI governor said that many people have been put out of work as a result of COVID-19.

“We need to open up the economy in a measured way but as fast as possible so that people start having jobs,” he said.

On being asked about going into a cyclical lockdown, where people open up businesses and then forced to shut down again, Rajan said that it “diminishes credibility”.

“That said, I don’t think we have to aim for 100 per cent success, have 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,” he noted.

When Rahul Gandhi asked the former RBI Governor about the testing capacity for coronavirus, Rajan said India needs at least 5 lakh testing per day.

Raghuram Rajan, in the video conversation with Rahul Gandhi, further said that India has an opportunity in shaping the dialogue in global economy, post pandemic.

“There is opportunity for India, it is in shaping that dialogue. Being more of a leader in that dialogue because it is not one of the two big warring parties. But it is a big enough country to have its voice heard in the global economy.”

He said India can find opportunities for its industries, for its supply chains. “But most importantly, we can try and mould the dialogue towards one which has greater place for more countries in the global order, a multi-polar global order rather than a single or a bipolar global order,” added Rajan.

However, Rajan cautioned when Rahul Gandhi asked him if India can take advantage of the situation due to pandemic. He said, “These kinds of incidents rarely have positive effects for any country, in general. There are ways countries can take advantage of. What I think we can say is that there will have to be a rethinking of everything in the global economy once we are out of this.”