Lockdown extension in India will kill more people out of hunger, says NR Narayana Murthy. The Infosys founder stated that the country must accept coronavirus as a new normal life. The statement has become viral and controversial.
Bengaluru: The Infosys founder said that India could witness more deaths due to hunger from the poor than that of the pandemic If it continues to remain in lockdown. He also added that the country must accept the coronavirus as a new normal way of life and initiate the return to normal work. The country should take measures to protect the vulnerable.
“What is important for us to understand is that India cannot continue in this situation for too long. Because at some point of time, deaths due to hunger will far outweigh deaths due to coronavirus,” he told business leaders at a webinar on Wednesday.
India’s mortality rate of 0.25-0.5% of total positive cases was very low compared with the developed countries, he said.
So far, India has been able to flatten the curve — or reduce the spread of the virus — in most places due to the lockdown, which has been extended till May 3. More than 31,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in India so far, of which 1,008 have died since the first reported infection on January 30.
Murthy said India sees over 9 million deaths annually due to various reasons, of which a quarter is due to pollution since the country is one of the most polluted in the world. “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,” he said.
Murthy said around 190 million Indians are employed either in the informal (unorganized) sector or are self-employed, and a significant part of this population is likely to have lost its livelihood due to the lockdown. More will lose their livelihoods “if this continues for long”.
Murthy was addressing a virtual audience of entrepreneurs and industry executives at the ‘ET Unwired — Reimagining Business’ event.