Jean Drèze, Belgian-born Indian economist and right-to-food activist, interviewed by Preetha Nair (Outlook India)

Jean Drèze, Belgian-born Indian economist and right-to-food activist, interviewed by Preetha Nair (Outlook India)

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published Published on Apr 1, 2020   modified Modified on Apr 3, 2020

-Outlook India

Indian Economist Jean Drèze, in an interview with Outlook, says that because of the Coronavirus lockdown, there won’t be any employment under MNREGA now and Bihar will be the worst-hit.

Belgian-born Indian economist, Jean Dreze, says that the central government needs to take immediate measures to address the situation that has emerged in the wake of mass exodus of migrant workers due to the Coronavirus lockdown. In an interview with Outlook, Dreze says Bihar will be the worst-hit in the next couple of months as the state has a huge number of landless laborers and is witnessing the return of workers from different parts of the country. Excerpts:

Q) You, along with other academics, have recently written to the central government regarding emergency relief for migrant workers. What are the immediate steps needed?

We need some emergency measures right now. Most of the measures in the relief package will take time after the lockdown. The measures such as cash transfer and Public Distribution System (PDS) will take time. Even if the cash transfers are made now, people can’t go to the bank. Banks are going to be jammed the way it happened during demonetization.

Before the end of the lockdown, within the next few days, there should be larger Programmes of emergency relief including the distribution of food. Most of the state governments are doing that. But they need more resources from the central government. Though the government announced some package, I feel that they are moving slowly. It took more than a week to form the task force to address the COVID-19 crisis.

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Image Courtesy: Outlook India

Outlook India, 1 April, 2020,

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