Narayana Murthy’s concerns for lockdown extension

N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys, warned that India could see more deaths due to hunger than the Covid-19 pandemic if another lengthy lockdown is imposed on the country.

In a webinar with business leaders Wednesday, Murthy said that India should learn to live with the virus, start moving towards relaxing restrictions in the country and ensure that able-bodied individuals return to work to protect the vulnerable.

“What is important for us to understand is that India cannot continue in this situation for too long. Because at some point of time, deaths due to hunger will far outweigh deaths due to coronavirus,” Murthy said.

Murthy joins a rousing chorus of economists who have been advising against the extension of the nationwide lockdown imposed on 24 March by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to arrest the spread of coronavirus.

Former governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan also echoed Murthy’s sentiments and said that a second or third lockdown after reopening will be “devastating” to the economy. Rajan was in conversation with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Thursday, where he said that it will take Rs 65,000 crore to help the poor.

He also expressed concerns about the unemployment levels in the country. Citing unemployment data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), Rajan said that 100 million people are off work or have exited the labour force. He called the numbers “mind boggling”.

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