The government will need around Rs 65,000 crore to help the poor who are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus lockdown, economist Raghuram Rajan told Rahul Gandhi in a video interaction.
The former RBI chief also said a prolonged lockdown would not be sustainable for the country’s economy. “We will need Rs 65,000 crore, it is not that much. This is to save the lives of the poor,” Rajan said when asked by Gandhi about the money needed to help the poor.
Noting that it was “all too easy to have a lockdown forever”, Rajan said: “We need to be cleverer in lifting the lockdown. We need to open up in a measured way as India does not have capacity to feed people for long. We have to manage the reopening so when there are cases we isolate them,” he said.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had posted a two-minute long clip on social media showing parts of the conversation between the two, while the full dialogue was released on Thursday. Rajan also posted about the interaction on LinkedIn.
The move, first of its kind, is significant because it is being seen as a shift in the image of Gandhi who is seen to be finally taking steps to be more involved in the functioning of the party.
Surjewala said that Gandhi will hold a series of video-dialogues with public intellectuals on charting a path to recovery after the pandemic.
The video series is being seen by many as a sign of Rahul Gandhi’s return to presidency, months after he stepped down after the Congress’ drubbing in the 2020 elections.
This month, he also came on board an 11-member committee headed by former prime minister Manmohan Singh to ideate on national issues founded in the backdrop of coronavirus pandemic.