Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says the South Asian country must take three steps “immediately” for the nation’s economy to recover from the impact of the coronavirus and restore economic normalcy.
In a recent email exchange with the BBC, Singh said first the government must “ensure people’s livelihoods are protected and they have spending power through a significant direct cash assistance.”
Second, Indian businesses much have sufficient capital available to them through "government-backed credit guarantee programs".
The third step, Singh says, is India must fix its financial sector through “institutional autonomy and processes.”
India’s current economic downturn was caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus. “It is important to view this from the prism of sentiments in our society than mere economic numbers and methods," the former prime minister said.
Singh said borrowing money may be necessary if the government is to spur a full-fledged economic recovery.
Singh had led a major reform program for India’s economy when he served as finance minister nearly 20 years ago.
India imposed a sudden national lockdown to stop the spread of the virus. “The suddenness of the announcement and the stringency of the lockdown were thoughtless and insensitive," Singh said, noting that even World War Two did not spark a “whole world shut down.”
Only two other nations have more COVID-19 infections than India’s 2.2 million. Brazil has more than 3 million cases, while the U.S. has more than 5 million.