Eating Dosa for breakfast this morning, my thoughts went to Raghuram Rajan. The affable banker’s Dosanomics is famed. As is his uncanny ability to make economics simple enough to understand for the masses. India will terribly miss him come September. It is maddeningly sad to see such a brilliant mind not being utilized fully for furthering an Indian economic conquest of the world.
A few days before Rajan announced his decision not to seek a second term as Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor, I had posted in my Facebook account that he is comparable to T N Seshan, a former Chief Election Commissioner, who had redrawn the picture of a powerful but unknown position. We have had RBI governors in the past, but none with the same recall as Raghuram Rajan.
The appointment of Rajan as RBI governor in 2013 was a masterstoke. But giving him only a three year initial term was not. When you see a diamond, you need to realize it. Neither the past Government nor the present did – with the result that the most brilliant economic mind India has produced goes back to teaching. Not that teaching is bad, but he had unfinished business here.
The standout thing about Rajan is his understanding of the global economic framework. We have never had a head banker who brought the ‘big picture’ mentality to the bank’s policies before. With Rajan at the helm, we were treading uncharted waters, but definitely not to be cast away. Instead, we were being guided by a captain who knew how to steer the ship clear of trouble. Proof was in the way he attacked inflation; proof was in the way he performed as an iconoclast; proof was in the way he spoke with unbending conviction and unbridled hope. Beneath the charming visage which competed for stares from the womenfolk was a man who meant business and knew how economics should be practiced.
Rajan’s legacy will be the freshness he brought to the RBI governance. He was even kind enough to let the deputy governors take centre-stage on more than one occasion. He had seen so much of fame that he was probably getting bored with it. Besides, he had his love to chase – banking and monetary policy reforms. Unfortunately, the tirade of an outspoken ruling party MP cast shadows over the man’s ambition to fulfill completely what he had set out to achieve when he took charge. It was surprising that the Government at that time did not support Rajan. Narendra Modi’s silence was fodder for Subramanian Swamy to further engage in egregious attacks on the gentleman. Modi was too late in snubbing Swamy. The damage had been done by then.
The nation really does not want to know who the next RBI Governor will be. Such is the impression that Raghuram Rajan has created. None like him before, none like him after as well. He leaves behind a petrichor fragrance. Truly a man who brought fresh rains with that earthy smell.