What’s the exit strategy? Rahul Gandhi in conversation with Harvard Professor Jha

indica News Bureau-


Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been holding a series of dialogues with global and Indian thought leaders to discuss the Covid-19 crisis.

In this series, he interacted with Professor Ashish Jha of Harvard University, and epidemiologist, Professor Johan Geisecke of the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, on what could be the exit strategy for the current lockdown.

“The reason for a lockdown is that you are trying to stop the spread of the virus. Humanity has never seen this virus. This means we are all susceptible, said professor Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Lockdown buys you time, but lockdown is not the goal unto itself. You can use that time to prepare a fabulous testing, tracing, isolation infrastructure. You want to use that time to communicate with people,” added Jha.

Gandhi, who had recently met migrant laborers moving across the country to get to their hometowns during the lockdown, shared his thoughts saying the biggest fear they had was uncertainty. Professor Jha agreed and said the government needs to have a strategy for exiting the lockdown.

For those migrants, more than anything, they require assurance from the government that they will be looked after. Prof. Jha says, “when you open the economy, you have to give people confidence. The economy works on confidence.”

Earlier this month, he spoke to Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee who said that India should consider a big stimulus and give cash in hand to create demand and prevent chains of bankruptcies to save the economy hit hard by the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

“Spending is the easiest way to revive the economy. It will have a stimulus effect,” Banerjee had said.

Raghuram Rajan, the former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor, on April 30 in a talk with Gandhi suggested that the government could transfer cash directly to the poor and supply food through the public distribution system (PDS), estimating the effort will cost Rs 65,000 crore.

The money is small given that India’s gross domestic product is to the tune of about Rs 200 lakh crore, he had said.

Rahul Gandhi has been critical of how the Modi government is handling the pandemic, asking the government, what is the strategy regarding opening India? What precautions will they take to now curb the disease? How will they support migrants? How will they support State Governments and MSMEs?

Watch the discussion between Rahul Gandhi and Professor Ashish Jha here.