Lockdown Extension Talks ‘Piecemeal, Arbitrary And Erratic’, Rajiv Bajaj Tells Mojo Story
All current discussions about extending the lockdown for the third time are “piecemeal, arbitrary and erratic”, while people with the authority have yet not spoken with “data and logic”, according to Rajiv Bajaj, managing director of Bajaj Auto Ltd.
“What I see as a common person is that the centre or the prime minister is waiting for chief ministers to take a stand and the chief ministers, particularly the non-BJP chief ministers, are the first to suggest an extension of lockdown, almost as if they’re waiting for the prime minister to reverse their decision,” he said in an interview to Barkha Dutt, editor at Mojo Story, a multi-media content and events company. “This is the game of ping pong which seems to be going back and forth.”
Bajaj, however, lauded Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s strategy, saying he’s the only one who said he has utilised the lockdown period and that Delhi is now ready to restart economic activity. “He’s the only one who has made a cohesive coherent composite statement. I have not heard it anywhere else,” Bajaj said.
The Covid-19 infection rate in India shows no signs of abating as the number of confirmed cases rose to more than 80,000, including over 2,000 deaths.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a fourth phase of lockdown, the details of which would be given out before May 18. He had earlier asked chief ministers to submit individual plans to bring their states out of the lockdown by May 15. India has been under the stringent stay-at-home restrictions since March 25, with Modi first extending it till May 3 and then again until May 17.
The nation also announced a Rs 20-lakh-crore economic package, including fresh measures and the earlier steps announced by the finance minister and the Reserve Bank of India, to make India self-reliant and emerge from the setback of Covid-19 disruption.
“It is perhaps my ignorance of economics but from what we hear here, ye ghoom phir ke jo stimulus hai na, when will it actually have impact or how it will have impact, I don’t know,” Bajaj said, adding that money should have been given either directly in the hands of the people or in the hands of the employers.
“Companies have zero revenue, they have losses, they have debts, people don’t have jobs and they don’t have salaries. This is acute stuff that has to be dealt with immediately,” he said.
Rs 20 lakh crore sounds good. But even those who know these things, no one I know has said ‘wow’.Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto
The lockdown, too, has been poorly planned and executed, Bajaj said, explaining that the government should have focused on the elderly and the vulnerable instead of putting everyone under lockdown together.
“When we unlock, closer to the monsoon, we are going to expose everybody all at the same time and I’m afraid that we are going to have a tsunami of a curve.”