Richest Banker in India Urges Lockdowns to Stem Virus Spread
Uday Kotak in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Udit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg)  

Richest Banker in India Urges Lockdowns to Stem Virus Spread

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India’s wealthiest banker, Uday Kotak, implored authorities to consider curbing economic activity in a bid to counter the coronavirus crisis.

The South Asian nation is suffering the world’s worst Covid-19 outbreak, with a daily infection rate surpassing 400,000 and more than 3,000 deaths every day. India’s struggling to secure supplies from abroad after its hospitals became overwhelmed and oxygen ran out in some parts of the country.

“At this critical juncture when toll of lives is rising, CII urges the strongest national steps including curtailing economic activity to reduce suffering,” Kotak, president of the Confederation of Indian Industry and chief executive of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., India’s third-largest lender by market value, said in a tweet.

The statement, which came within hours of official data indicating a loss for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party in key state elections, is a shift for the CII whose members had in April indicated they were against lockdowns. Modi, who last year imposed a strict lockdown on short notice, had also asked states to avoid shutting businesses this time around. Since his speech to the nation, though, India’s daily official death toll has increased by more than 1,000 and millions more have been sickened.

Other CII suggestions included:

  • Deploy armed forces and security personnel for logistics, infrastructure
  • Set up temporary medical facilities with army and other paramilitary forces
  • Tap retired doctors and nurses and trainees who are awaiting exam results

“Our maxim should be ‘no one is safe, unless everyone is safe,” he said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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