Addressing a virtual event organised by University of Chicago Center in Delhi, Rajan said India needs a quick bankruptcy process for the MSME sector.
“This is a tragic time in India given the pandemic. COVID-19 pandemic is probably India’s greatest challenge since independence,” he said.
“When the pandemic hit first, the challenge was largely economic as a result of lockdowns, now the challenge is both economic and personal, and there will also be a social element to it as we go forward,” he added.
India has been reporting more than 3 lakh new COVID cases daily in recent weeks and the death toll due to the infection is also rising.
“One of the effects of the pandemic is, we don’t see the government presence for various reasons,” Rajan said.
Noting that the Maharashtra government was able to provide oxygen beds to COVID-19 patients, he said, “In many places that level of the government was also not working.”
According to Rajan, post pandemic if we don’t seriously question society, it would be almost as big a tragedy as a pandemic itself.
“I do hope as this pandemic passes, we recognise that there are situations where government breaks down. The Pandemic has shown that we are all connected. No man is island, no woman is island,” he said.
Rajan, currently a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, noted that sometimes, you have to reform not by stealth but in full openness.
Recalling his famous IIT Delhi speech, the eminent economist said he was being seen as token opposition by the press.
“My IIT Delhi speech was not a criticism of the government…Things get over interpreted sometimes,” he said.
Speaking at the convocation of IIT Delhi, his alma mater, on October 31, 2015, Rajan had said tolerance and mutual respect were necessary to improve the environment for ideas and physical harm or verbal contempt for any particular group should not be allowed. “We need freedom of speech, freedom to criticise, it will prepare India for the 21st century,” he had said.
The outspoken former RBI Governor said the governments need to adjust, course correct and it can be done in a polite way. “But enough people within the government and outside government have to speak up, otherwise we get a disaster,” Rajan observed.