After Modi rode to power, RRR could take some steps to consolidate the Indian Economy and force banks to come clean on NPAs.
Seems Raghu Ram Rajan (RRR) loves to talk to Rahul Gandhi. Of course, who doesn’t? Given a chance, every one of us would like to have a chit chat with the man who inherited Lalu Prasad’s legacy of entertaining Indians. During his talk with Rahul Gandhi, the Ex- RBI Governor whose qualifications would continue for two lines opined that it would be devastating to the Indian Economy if there is a second or third lockdown. This reminded me of a story I heard when I was a kid.
Once there was a Pundit who was crossing the river Godavari over a small ferry. The Godavari was notorious for whirlpools. While the ferry was inching towards the other shore, the Pundit enquired the boatman whether he had any education. The boatman answered in negative. Sighing at the ignorance of the boatman, the Pundit remarked: “Your life is wasted if you have not learned Vedas and Upanishads that would teach you the essence of life.” The boatman remained silent but after some time asked the Pundit whether he knew how to swim. Now it is the turn of the Pundit to reply in negative. “If you don’t know swimming, your life will be wasted immediately as we are approaching a whirlpool. Take help from your education to remain alive,” the boatman remarked and jumped into the river.
The US of A has already allowed more than 50,000 of its citizens to die, despite its much-touted modern healthcare system.
Coming to the point, though none questioned the intellectual caliber of RRR, certainly he never explained why he did not have his best performance as the RBI Governor, during the tenure of UPA. It was only after Modi rode to power, RRR could take some steps to consolidate the Indian Economy and force banks to come clean on NPAs. Still, none wonders why RRR is critical of Modi and loves MMS and his coterie. I am not a great fan of Modi as far as his way of economy handling is concerned, but certainly, Modi could and did manage the country better than the way Manmohan Singh had ever even attempted.
The point here is, does one really need to be an expert in economics to predict that it would be devastating to the Indian Economy if there is a 2nd or 3rd lockdown? Even those guys who committed suicide because liquor was unavailable too could predict this thing. Moreover, RRR said that to have the confidence to reopen the economy, the number of tests should be tripled. He feels only after doing a million tests, India can have the same confidence that the US has on reopening the economy.
Even for a normal person who is not an Economist, this is a ridiculous and nonsensical argument. The US of A has already allowed more than 50,000 of its citizens to die, despite its much-touted modern healthcare system. Read the words of RRR quoted in Hindustan Times: “Second or third lockdown will be devastating. It does diminish our credibility. We don’t have to aim for 100 percent success – it is not possible too – we have to manage the reopening.”
This statement is absolute nonsense because what he considers in terms of credibility is basically of some human lives out there. Yes, India is notorious for the cheap value of human life. But, we Indians have never considered our lives precious and abhor any safe practices. We are a nation where doing stunts over running trains and riding bikes without helmets is seen as heroic. Still, that does not mean the government has any right to consider the value of the lives of Indians to be cheap.
All the optimistic end dates of an epidemic are simply false notions that may, in turn, provoke people to trade in dangerous actions like mingling with others or even travelling in trains.
As many pointed out in the last one month, the worldwide notion of Indian lives is cheaper than the lives of Americans was shattered. When the United States chooses the economy over Human lives, India chooses lives over the economy. Yes, one can say this only postpones the problem, and starvation is imminent. What the government did was to buy time to prepare itself to take on the onslaught of the epidemic.
As soon as Germany relaxed restrictions, cases have started to increase. We are not dealing with an epidemic that is seasonal and would disappear in months, if not weeks. We are staring at something that is here to live with us; to remain with us as long as we live. It will affect us till the time we learn to live with it. All the optimistic end dates of an epidemic are simply false notions that may, in turn, provoke people to trade in dangerous actions like mingling with others or even travelling in trains.
Indian government knew the limitations of the Indian government and Indian society. Given these limitations, so far Indians have responded well to the call of the Prime Minister. Uncharacteristically, Indians have displayed a great level of discipline in following the instructions of the government. Perhaps, after Mahatma Gandhi, no leader has enjoyed such support.
As there are so many guys out there predicting doomsday scenarios (last month someone predicted loss of two to three million lives in India) let me make it clear that no intellectual capacity is needed to make such predictions. Even Rahul Gandhi could predict such things. If someone tries to prefer opening the economy over saving lives, I would like to say categorically, that such an approach is inhuman and demonic. And to become an intellectual, the necessary qualification is to be human in the first place. So, we are not considering those who exhibit inhuman approaches to attend the problem of the epidemic, an intellectual.
Except for demanding bailout packages worth lacs of crores, as such the opposition under the eminent leadership, Shri Rahul Gandhi did nothing. States were talking about the loss of revenue. These states shall also realize and accept the fact that during the epidemic, they put a freeze on the expenditure. As many states have already enforced even pay cuts to their employees, they know what they are talking about and what they are hiding.
As the government has already talked about easing the lockdown in selected districts, allow interstate travel, and opening some sectors, any talks on extended lockdowns are considered only as a malicious attempt by Raghu Ram Rajan and Rahul Gandhi. Though one can understand the occupational compulsions of Rahul Gandhi to indulge in such things, there absolutely was no need for Rajan to stoop to the level of Rahul Gandhi. He better remembers the story of Karna, who continued to plunge once he associated himself with Duryodhana.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.