Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan has taken India's 21-day-lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus with a pinch of salt, telling Bloomberg in an interview that the nationwide curfew might not necessarily check the spread of the epidemic. Expressing concern that the lockdown will not only keep people from going to work, but it would also keep them at home, "which is not necessarily that pristine isolated place, but can also be a slum where people live together," Rajan was quoted as saying by the business publication.
The remarks by Rajan, currently a professor of finance at the University of Chicago, come amid observation by the Indian government that the lockdown had been successful in checking the spread of the virus. "The results of social distancing are really encouraging," said Luv Aggarwal, the Joint Secretary at the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry, said at a press briefing on Thursday.
Opining that it could be hard for Indian authorities to keep the infection from spreading, Rajan said that the country's "weak infrasturcture" could also make it difficult to transfer food, money and other supplies to the poor. Also calling for a coordinated global response to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the academic said that rich countries must divert some resources to under-developed parts of the world so that they had a "fair chance" to fight the coronavirus, as per excerpts of the interview carried by Bloomberg on Thursday.
“Some of it is understandable. You want to first get medical supplies for your own country before you think about the rest of the world," the Indian economist was quoted as saying, adding that he believed that the disease must be "eradicated" from all parts of the world.
India has so far had 649 cases of coronavirus, with 13 deaths reported so far. The government's decision to impose a lockdown, covering 1.3 billion people, has found support among healthcare professionals and foreign governments.
US' Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia had recently lauded the Indian government's efforts to control the spread of coronavirus.
The European Commission has also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking effective measures that have been "the key to prevent the rapid spread of the disease in India," during a telephonic conversation between President of the European Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen and the PM on March 24.
(The headline of the article was changed after it was published. The inconvenience to readers is regretted).