Rajiv Bajaj: India ended up flattening the wrong curve (GDP) because of a ‘draconian lockdown’: Rajiv Bajaj – The Economic Times

Clipped from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com

The country eventually came to suffer the worst of both worlds, Bajaj told Rahul Gandhi.

The lockdown that India put in place around the last week of March was aimed at flattening the Covid curve. But the move ended up flattening a very different curve — the growth (GDP) curve — according to Rajiv Bajaj, the Managing Director of Bajaj AutoNSE 1.22 %.

Having flattened the wrong curve, the country eventually came to suffer the worst of both worlds, Bajaj said in his conversation with Rahul Gandhi — part of a series where the former Congress president talks to experts on the pandemic‘s impact on India.

India looked up to and tried to emulate Europe and the US rather than Japan and South Korea, which Bajaj said was a wrong benchmark for an Asian country like ours.

“There were various forms of lockdown that we could have opted for. We chose a hard lockdown that was porous, because of which the virus situation here is still persisting,” is how Bajaj summed up the situation.

GDP in Q4 hit an 11-year trough after a full locked-down week made matters worse for an already sputtering quarter.

The India-wide lockdown was imposed on March 25, but business was already misfiring well before that.

He also talked at length about how sentiment has been affected. India has fallen short of disclosing facts and truth; that has hurt the sentiment and people actually think that the contagion is like a cancer, he said.

He said he thought it would take a long time to return to normalcy. India cannot save itself out of trouble, it has to sell itself out of trouble, Bajaj observed.

The country needs a stimulus to demand, he added.

Bajaj also found faults with how the nation was unlocking after the months-long curb. According to him, an aligned approach to unlocking is missing, and the fear that was created at the very outset is to blame for this lack of smooth unlocking.

Opening up would be a herculean task, Bajaj noted. The only thing that can remove fear from the mind of the people is a message that has to come from the Prime Minister — that things are under control.

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