Lengthy Lockdown Will Kill More People Than COVID-19: NR Narayana Murthy

Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy, in a recent webinar, said that a lengthy lockdown could kill more people in the country than the virus itself. He felt that the country must accept the Coronavirus as a new ‘normal’ and the government should allow the able-bodied to get back to work while also protecting the vulnerable section of the society at the same time. He said that around 190 million Indians are employed in the informal sector and the lockdown might have already impacted their livelihood.

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

So far, India has seen around 31000 cases of COVID-19 and when compared to a few weeks ago, to a certain extent, the country has been successful in flattening the curve. Murthy also talked about pollution at this point. He said: “When you look at 9 million people dying naturally, and when you compare it with the death of 1,000 people in the past two months, obviously it is not as much as a panic we think it is.

Impact on Tax Collections

With the businesses having lost 15-20% of their revenues, Murthy felt that the Government’s Tax and GST collections could take a hit in the coming days. The Infosys founder also revealed a stat that India’s GDP growth is set to slow down to 1.9% this year. The GDP growth was 4.5% last year.

He was also surprised that no Indian entrepreneur had come forward with a robust testing mechanism for the virus. He told: “If such a test was developed and sold at a reasonable price, it will help. I have not seen an Indian entrepreneur come out with something like this.

Mortality Rate

Narayana Murthy also commented on the mortality rate of the virus and called for experiments to be done in order to trace a proper trend. He said India could have to live considering ‘Coronavirus’ as a new normal. Murthy added: “In such a complex situation, the best thing we should do is to assume the new normal. Live with the coronavirus, we should start what we were doing before corona.”

A Data-Driven Approach

Murthy called for a data-driven approach to the experiment, using mathematical modeling and statistical analysis, and providing inputs to the government so it can take decisions based on data and “not emotions”.

National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom): “We have recommended the staggered opening of offices with 10-15% people. Not all of them come at the same time. Practice social distancing and monitor how it works. Gradually keep increasing the numbers (in office). We are taking a data-driven approach. What we would want the government to do is work out a return-to-office strategy. It is beneficial for the industry and the country.” Narayana Murthy is one of the founders of Nasscom.

Source: Economic Times