Rajiv Bajaj has said that the nationwide lockdown implemented to curb the spread of the Covid pandemic has 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."
The Managing Director of Bajaj Auto was in a conversation with former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi that was broadcast on social media on Thursday. This is Gandhi's fourth interaction with who's who of the business world as he tries to build a case against the central government led by Narendra Modi.
Speaking about the unlocking and impact of lockdown on the economy and the disease, industrialist Rajiv Bajaj referred to Japan and Sweden, who did not close their business but tried to propagate cluster control method. In this system Social distancing was encouraged, but shops and restaurants stayed open. Some students continued to go to school and borders stayed open to European visitors. It helped the economy continue to grow in the first quarter, unlike many other nations, but later deaths multiplied.
Bajaj also said some countries used the herd immunity thing. However, "when people hear about this in terms of being articulated as herd immunity, they tend to think that herd immunity means let the vulnerable die.
"It doesn't mean that at all. They are missing the details, whether it is in terms of sanitisation, masks, distancing etc.
"Sweden, Japan etc. are following all these practices but they are not trying to go further into the unproductive zone .
The 53-year-old, who had had in 2017 made it to India's 50 most powerful personalities, also said that we have followed the West. Rahul Gandhi has been instead asking the union government not to drive the lockdown the way it did, but be supportive and leave rest to the states but it has not been done so.
"It's surreal. I don't think anyone imagined that the world would be locked down in this way. I don't think that even during the World War, the world was locked down. I think even then things were open. it's a unique and devastating phenomenon," said Gandhi. India pressed the pause button for two long months, he could not fathom.
"The lockdown was really hard on the poor and migrants. They had nowhere to go," when Gandhi brought this up, When asked what he would have done, Gandhi told Bajaj, "The central government has to act as an enabler. It should have moved the battle to chief ministers, but what happened in India is that the central government has backed off now. It's too late now.
""It's a failed lockdown in India, it's the only country where number of infections is increasing wheh lockdown is being eased," Gandhi added.
During the conversation, Gandhi called for a compassionate response and the urgent need for the government to listen to stakeholders and experts
On April 30, Gandhi held the first such dialogue when he discussed the coronavirus pandemic and its economic implications with former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan.
( With inputs from IANS )