India flattened wrong curve, of GDP: Rajiv Bajaj


India flattened the wrong curve, that of economic growth, with its “draconian lockdown” to ward off the novel coronavirus, Rajjiv Bajaj, one of India’s most successful industrialists, has said.

Bajaj, managing director of vehicle major Bajaj Auto, made the scathing observation in a video interview with India’s principal Opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party.

“Some of us who can afford it are not too unhappy to be home, but when you see what is happening around you, both with businesses and with the masses, it is certainly more bitter than sweet,” Bajaj replied when Rahul asked him how the COVID situation was looking.

When Rahul pointed to the “surreal” global situation that he said was perhaps not seen even during the Second World War, Bajaj let loose.

Bajaj Auto managing director Rajiv Bajaj during the video interview with Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi

“I have friends and family (across the world), starting from Japan because of our association with Kawasaki, people I know in Singapore, people I know I so many places in Europe and people in US of course. Close friends and family in New York, in Michigan, in DC, and when you say the world has never been locked down like this, India has been locked down. What I refer to as a draconian lockdown,” the industrialist said.

“This kind of lockdown I am not hearing about from anywhere else,” Bajaj added. Äll my friends and family across the world have always been free to step out, take a walk, to go and buy something they require, to visit someone and say hello.”

When Rahul pointed to the suddenness of the lockdown and how it had devastated the poor, Bajaj said: “…I don’t understand why despite being an Asian country we sought not to look at what was happening east. But we looked at… Italy and France, Spain, the UK and subsequently the US, which are not really the right benchmarks in any sense. Whether it’s by inherent immunity, temperature, demography, predisposition to thrombosis, etc, everything that the scientists and doctors have spoken of. We should never have been looking there. Even how to look at it from the medical point of view starting with the bogey of medical infrastructure…

“I think we have fallen very short in disclosing facts, logic, and the truth,” he added. “And this has got amplified and instilled such a enormous fear in people. People seem to think the contagion is equal to a contagious cancer or something. And now, to bring them back on board, to make them comfortable to ‘living with the virus’ seems to be the new narrative from the government. It’s going to take a long time. ”

He said between an air-tight lockdown and business as usual, “we tried to implement a hard lockdown, which was still porous, so we ended up with with the worst of both worlds”.

That meant, he said, that the virus was still waiting and would strike after the lockdown was lifted, “so you have not solved that problem but you have decimated the economy, you’ve flattened the wrong curve. It’s not the infection curve, it’s the GDP curve. This is what we have ended with, the worst of both worlds.”

He said India should have opted for the kind of measures that Japan and Sweden took, and underlined that it did not mean leaving people to die.

The lockdown I India has seen millions of poor daily wage laborers trying to get back home and hundreds of them dying, and thousands of people have lost their jobs higher up on the economic ladder.

See the full interview here (external link).