India needs Rs 65,000 crore to support its poor, who have been badly hit during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Raghuram Rajan, the former RBI Governor told Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a one on one conversation on Thursday morning.
Rajan said extending the Rs 65,000 crore aid shouldn't be that big a problem given the size of the Indian economy.
Speaking of the lockdown exit strategy, Rajan said India needs to be cleverer in lifting the lockdown and open up its economy in a "measured way" soon as it does not have the capacity to support people across the spectrum for too long.
"There has to be a prioritisation as our capacities are limited," Rajan said, "We need to decide how we keep the economy together so that when we re-open it's able to walk off the sick bed and not be impaired at that point."
"Most immediately, I think it keeps people well and alive," he said.
"It is all too easy to have a lockdown forever, but obviously that is unsustainable for the economy," the economist said.
India has been in lockdown since March 24 to curb the spread of coronavirus
Gandhi said infrastructure connects people and that gives opportunity, but if there is division and hatred, that disconnects people.
There is an infrastructure of division and hatred and that causes as big a problem, the former Congress chief said.
Agreeing with Gandhi, Rajan said, "Social harmony is a public good. Having everyone believe that they are a part of this system, an equal part of the system is essential. We cannot afford to be a house divided especially in these times when our challenges are so big."
The dialogue between Gandhi and Rajan was the first of its kind initiative that was broadcast on Congress' social media handles.