New Delhi: A "draconian" but "porous" lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus ended up "flattening the wrong curve" and left the country with the worst of both worlds, industrialist Rajiv Bajaj said in a video interaction with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
"We tried to implement a hard lockdown which was still porous. So, I think we have ended up with the worst of both worlds. On one hand, a porous lockdown makes sure that the virus will still exist and as you said, it is still waiting to hit you when you will unlock. So, you have not solved that problem," Bajaj, Managing Director of Bajaj Auto, said in the online chat aired this morning.
"But you have definitely decimated the economy. You flattened the wrong curve. It is not the infection curve, it is the GDP curve," he said.
Bajaj commented that a hard lockdown implies an airtight, impervious lockdown. "And to the best of my knowledge, this has not happened anywhere in the world. To physically constrain yourself to your home and see absolutely no one," he noted.
The industrialist also commented in his conversation with the Congress leader, "We are not seeing a smooth, concerted, rhythmic movement towards unlocking. Unfortunately, India not only looked west, it went to the wild west. I think we stayed more towards the impervious side."
This is the latest in a series of interactions that Rahul Gandhi has had with economists, experts, industrialists and others since the country went into lockdown in late March. He has earlier held chats with Raghuram Rajan and Abhijit Banerjee.
Bajaj, whose father Rahul Bajaj is one of India's most respected corporate leaders, shared that he had been advised that he would land in trouble for speaking to Gandhi.
"I shared with someone that I am speaking with Rahul and the first reaction was - mat karna (don't do it), this can get you into trouble," he remarked. "Why take the risk, he said."
Asked by Gandhi about a perceived "atmosphere of fear" in the country, Bajaj said in terms of being tolerant and sensitive, India needs to mend a couple of things.
The Congress MP shared, to a question from Bajaj, that a lockdown like this "brings the fear of death in the mind of people" and that is something tough to get rid of.
"It (lockdown) was also imposed suddenly. The bitter-sweet thing you said is shocking to me. See, rich people can deal with it as they have a home, a comfortable atmosphere, but it is completely devastating for the poor people and migrants," said Gandhi.
He also reiterated concerns about the impact of the lockdown on the economy.
"Whoever is going to invest in India is going to invest not because of your image, they are going to invest because of what you are and what you have... So the first logic has to be, defend that economy," Gandhi said.
"If you don't have an economy left, there is nothing."
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