On Wednesday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi held an online dialogue with global public healthcare expert Dr Ashish Jha and epidemiologist, Professor Johan Geisecke of the Karolinska Institute, Sweden on the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
“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.
“You can slow down the virus through a lockdown, but it has great economic repercussions. But authorities should utilise that time to prepare their testing infrastructure. It’s about planning everything for the time that’s coming,” he added.
“Now, when you open the economy, you have to give people confidence. The economy works on confidence,” said Professor Jha.
During the conversation, Gandhi, who had recently met migrant workers moving across the country to reach their hometowns, noted that their biggest fear was the looming uncertainty. Professor Jha agreed and said the government needs to have a strategy for exiting the lockdown.
This was the lastest conversation in a part of a series of dialogues that Gandhi is holding with global and Indian thought leaders to discuss the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the economy of India.
Earlier this month, the Congress leader was in conversation with Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee where they discussed steps the government can take to mitigate the COVID-19 situation in the country. Banerjee suggested that India should consider a big stimulus and give cash in hand to create demand and prevent chains of bankruptcies to save the economy.
A similar suggestion was made by former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan in his dialogue with Rahul Gandhi. He suggested that the government transfer cash directly to the poor and supply food through the public distribution system (PDS) to as many people as possible to help them overcome these trying times.