An outspoken RBI Governor is rarity but Raghuram Rajan is the one who famously declared in James Bond style — ‘My name is Rajan and I do what I do’ and he had a candid view on all topical issues economic and political.
Keeping up this reputation, Rajan today himself decided to put at rest all speculation about his continuance by saying no to a second term “on due reflection, and after consultation with the government”, but also made it clear he was “open to seeing” through his unfinished work on containing inflation and cleaning up the books of banks.
Be it speaking for tolerance after a Muslim was lynched for allegedly eating beef, comparing the Indian economy with ‘a one-eyed king in a blind world’ when strong growth was the central narrative, questioning the flagship programmes or doubting the new GDP numbers, Rajan was often vocal and not in sync with what the government would have liked it to be.
On the lines of Brexit — used for the upcoming vote on whether Britain would remain in Europe or not — the speculation over Rajan’s continuance had already prompted a new term ‘Rexit’.
When BJP’s newly-nominated Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy questioned whether Rajan was “mentally fully Indian” as part of his tirade against the RBI Governor, the former IMF Chief Economist said he would not reply to “ad hominem attacks” and give legitimacy to “so fundamentally wrong and baseless” allegations.
On his “Indian-ness” being questioned for holding a US green card, Rajan said, “Indian-ness, love for your country is complicated. For every person there is a different way that you show respect for your country… My mother-in-law will say karmayogi is the way to go — do your work.”
In his three-year stint at the central bank, the vocal Rajan has regularly given candid speeches and often chose his favourite ground of ideas– academic institutions –for speaking his mind on key issues.
He chose his alma mater IIT-Delhi to make a passionate plea in support of tolerance following the brutal the lynching of an elderly Muslim in nearby Dadri over allegedly eating beef, saying tolerance and mutual respect are necessary to improve an environment for ideas and physical harm or verbal contempt for any particular group should not be allowed.
On a day when the RBI signed the all-important monetary policy agreement with the government, Rajan had invoked Hitler’s regime to drive home the point that strong governments will not always drive move in the right direction.