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We moved the needle forward a bit everyday, says RBI Guv

Rajan said he did not want to offer suggestions to his successor

Anup Roy  |  Mumbai 

Outgoing Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan probably intended to keep the post-policy discussions focused on the day’s main event but media representatives had their own ideas and nobody was willing to leave this last chance to get some bits from him about his unexpected departure from the central bank. The usually freewheeling Rajan, however, kept the pitch subdued by chastising the media for dragging family members into the public domain. The RBI governor was upset that a reporter contacted his parents after Rajan’s resignation in mid-June. “I don’t think reporters should be going after families. They should have stayed away, they got in, he (Rajan’s father) gave an answer. I don’t have anything more to say on that,” Rajan said, interrupting a question on controversies surrounding his tenure at RBI. The enthusiasm among journalists was diffused and nobody wanted to poke him beyond this point. But, he did express satisfaction about his tenure, albeit in a guarded manner. Anyway, the otherwise frank governor had a practice of never reacting to his critics, for fear of giving them “legitimacy”. Absent were euphemisms such as “My name is Raghuram Rajan and I do what I do,” or the controversial “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king — we are a little bit that way”.

But he did brush aside the critics saying what mattered in the long term was whether the needle moved a bit. “Snap judgements”, either by critics or supporters don't really matter. What matters is how these play out in the longer run for stronger and sustainable growth for the country, for job creation and movement into middle income, he said. “That is something you can see only with the benefits of five-six years of experience and to know whether it was appropriate. In our view, the measures that we have taken in the RBI were and are justified, given the condition that we have,” Rajan said. Critics are there all the time, but there are also people “who send me anonymous messages in the plane saying thank you for what you are doing”. “I think the most important thing is that at the end of the day, you feel that you have made a useful contribution and that some people are better off as a result of it. From that perspective, I think this has been a fantastic journey. I have enjoyed every minute of it, partly because every day when my fellow colleagues at the RBI and I sit together and work, we manage to move the needle forward a little bit,” the RBI governor said. “You leave the office saying you did something and there are few places in the world where you can have that sense of satisfaction. So, I think this has been a fantastic experience and I hope there is some value added.” Rajan has still not firmed up his future plans, other than going back to his former employment structure in Chicago. While continuing as a professor there, he says he will continue to engage with Indians on various policy initiatives. “Let’s see going forward what I do but I haven't made plans yet.” Rajan also did not want to offer suggestions to his successor and wrapped up the press conference in as professional a way as he started his governorship on September 4, 2013. Strictly businesslike.

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First Published: Wed, August 10 2016. 00:38 IST
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