India’s COVID-19 Challenge: Outcomes and Options – 15 October 2020 | Raghuram Rajan and Bina Agarwal

What : India’s COVID-19 Challenge: Outcomes and Options
Where : WebEx  Register Now!
When : Thursday, October 15th, 2020, 20:00-21:30 IST, 15.30-17.00 BST

We are pleased to invite you to the second webinar in the “Envisioning India” series, co-sponsored by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the Institute for International Economic Policy. This is a platform for dialogue and debate. We invite you to engage with us in this series of important discussions.

The “Envisioning India” series is organized under the stewardship of IIEP Co-Director James Foster, Oliver T. Carr, Jr. Professor of International Affairs and Professor of Economics, and IIEP Distinguished Visiting Scholar Ajay Chhibber. The second event, “India’s COVID-19 Challenge: Outcomes and Options” will feature Raghuram Rajan, Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago, and Bina Agarwal, Professor of Development Economics and Environment at
the University of Manchester. The discussion will be moderated by Professor James
Foster, with an introduction by Dr. Ajay Chhibber.

India has been hit hard by the Coronavirus. Today it has amongst the highest number of cases world-wide and daily rising death rates One of the world’s strictest lockdowns in March, with no warning, flattened the economy instead of flattening the Covid-19 curve. In Q1 FY 2020-21 (April to June), India’s GDP fell by almost 24%, while the FY 2020-21GDP growth is projected to be between -5% and -10%, amongst the largest drop globally. The economy was already ailing prior to Covid, with growth falling for 7 previous quarters. COVID will set it back further, perhaps by at least 5 years and push millions out of work and into poverty. India’s ambitious goal of becoming a $5 Trillion economy by 2025 seems a distant dream now.

The lockdown also forced millions of urban migrants to return to their rural homes, under great hardship, carrying with them the virus and the despair of joblessness. India’s woefully inadequate public health system is now overwhelmed. Central and State finances are in deep trouble and the GST (as a sign of Cooperative Federalism) is beset with intense political friction. The already struggling financial system is likely to sink even deeper into the mire. The Rs 20 Trillion (10% of GDP) package announced by the government with much fanfare under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self-reliant India scheme), is too small – especially its fiscal component -to repair the economic damage or revive livelihoods. The package includes a series of reforms in agricultural markets and labor markets as well as a greater push for “ Make in India”. But will these reforms help India at this stage?

India is between a rock and a hard place. Did it have to get so bad? Is there any good news? A silver lining anywhere? Is there scope for some transformative change? Or do we, as with the virus, have to brace ourselves to “live with” this economic downturn for a long stretch ahead?

Our distinguished panelists will discuss these challenges and possible options and solutions.
About the Panelists:


Raghuram Rajan is the Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. He was the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India between 2013 and 2016, and also served as Vice-Chairman of the Board of the Bank for International Settlements between 2015 and 2016. Dr. Rajan was the Chief Economist and Director of Research at the International Monetary Fund from 2003 to 2006.

Dr. Rajan’s research interests are in banking, corporate finance, and economic development, especially the role finance plays in it. He co-authored Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists with Luigi Zingales in 2003. He then wrote Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy, for which he was awarded the Financial Times-Goldman Sachs prize for best business book in 2010. His most recent book, The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State hold the Community Behind was published in 2019.

Dr. Rajan was the President of the American Finance Association in 2011 and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Group of Thirty. In 2003, the American Finance Association awarded Dr. Rajan the inaugural Fischer Black Prize for the best finance researcher under the age of 40. The other awards he has received include the Deutsche Bank Prize for Financial Economics in 2013, Euromoney magazine’s Central Banker of the Year Award 2014 and The Banker magazine’s Global Central Banker of the Year award in 2016.

Bina Agarwal is Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, UK, and former Professor and Director, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. She has been President, International Society for Ecological Economics; Vice-President, International Economic Association; President, International Society for Feminist Economics; and held distinguished positions at the Universities of Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton, Michigan, Minnesota, and the New York University School of Law. Agarwal’s publications include the multiple award-winning book, A Field of One’s Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia (Cambridge University Press, 1994), Gender and Green Governance (OUP, 2010) and Gender Challenges (OUP, 2016), a three volume compendium of her selected papers on Agriculture, Property, and the EnvironmentHer pioneering work on gender inequality in property and land and on environmental governance, has had global impact. Her many awards include a Padma Shri, 2008;  book prizes; the Leontief Prize 2010; Louis Malassis Scientific Prize 2017; and the International Balzan Prize, 2017.


About the Organizers


James E. Foster is the Oliver T. Carr, Jr. Professor of International Affairs, Professor of Economics, and Co-Director of the Institute for International Economic Policy at the George Washington University. He is also a Research Associate at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative at Oxford University. Professor Foster’s research focuses on welfare economics — using economic tools to evaluate and enhance the wellbeing of people. His joint 1984 Econometrica paper (with Joel Greer and Erik Thorbecke) is one of the most cited papers on poverty. It introduced the FGT Index, which has been used in thousands of studies and was employed in targeting the Progresa CCT program in Mexico. Other research includes work on economic inequality with Amartya Sen; on the distribution of human development with Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva and Miguel Szekely; on multidimensional poverty with Sabina Alkire; and on literacy with Kaushik Basu.

Professor Foster’s work underlies many well-known social indices including the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) published annually by the UNDP in the Human Development Report, dozens of national MPIs used to guide domestic policy against poverty, the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) at USAID, the Gross National Happiness Index of Bhutan, the Better Jobs Index of the InterAmerican Development Bank, and the Statistical Performance Index of the World Bank.


Ajay Chhibber is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Institute of International Economic Policy,  George Washington University and Non-Resident Senior Fellow, the Atlantic Council, Washington DC. He was earlier  Director General, Independent Evaluation Office, Government of India and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), India. He held senior positions at the UN as Assistant Secretary General and Assistant Administrator, UNDP and managed their program for Asia and the Pacific. He also served in senior positions at the World Bank. He has a PhD from Stanford University, a Masters from the Delhi School of Economics. He taught at Georgetown University and at the University of Delhi.

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