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Raghupati Raghav Rajaram: Hey Ram!

  By Vijay Darda | 21-06-2016

In historical records Mahatma Gandhi was murdered on January 30th 1948, his killer was recorded as Nathuram Godse. The name Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh does not figure among the Mahatma’s assassins. Now nearly 68 years later when Raghuram Rajan has been denied a second term as the governor of Reserve Bank of India, the official records would not show that he has been sacked by the government. There is a common bond between Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination and Raghuram Rajan’s exit as the governor. Both did not conform to the Sangh parivar’s thinking. Both suffered character assassination. The commonality extends to yet another point. The feeling of joy within the Sangh parivar at their respective exits. So, naturally a thought comes to the mind – Raghupati Raghav Rajaram: Hey Ram!

In this discourse, we must always remember that when it comes to Raghuram Rajan and the Modi Sarkar the issue is not his performance as the governor of Reserve Bank of India. All the differences about the issues like interest rate cuts or the non-performing assets of the public sector banks, are a mere fig leaf for the core ideological issue. Indeed, as widely reported in the media there is a large section of not just BJP/RSS leaders but also bureaucrats and even former RBI governors who felt that Rajan had simply no business to speak about issues like tolerance, or India is a one-eyed king in the kingdom of the blind, or for that matter question the GDP numbers put out by the government’s statisticians. Nor did the government appreciate the idea that the foreign investors were flocking to the country because of Rajan’s credibility as a central banker.

Now the government’s message is clear. If you are in the service of the government, then your independence is forfeited. Never mind, even if the primary requirement of the job, as in the case of the RBI governor is to have an independent assessment and opinion on issues. Just as a swayamsewak is not allowed to think independently similarly, in this regime, a government appointee has to toe the government line in every respect.

Some will argue that this is the way things should be, and at least the Sangh parivar can claim a lot of virtue in this approach. But the huge difference is that India is a democracy whereas the Sangh is not. Unlike the politicians who have to seek people’s votes, the office-bearers of the Sangh do not have any such obligation. They are also not answerable for their actions to the Parliament or the legislatures. The Sangh can afford an opacity in its working, but the central government cannot.

When it comes to matters related to Rajan, government showed itself up in very poor light. The fact is that here is a well-known economist who built his reputation as a clear headed thinker and was known as the Oracle of the 2008 financial crisis having predicted it years before it actually struck. Now he was not an appointee of the NDA government, but on coming to power the government did not fire him. None of the BJP’s ideologues even remotely suggested that Rajan was not the person to run the Reserve Bank of India for the NDA government. It would have been understandable if they had eased him out of office after an assessment that he would be a “Congress agent” as Swamy has been saying now. On the contrary, they persisted with him for two years, and then decided to tarnish his reputation. Economic policy demands stability, and all over the globe central bankers enjoy long comfortable stints. They are not subjected to the kind of partisan attacks that were unleashed by the BJP against Rajan. It would have been quite a different matter if the Union finance minister Arun Jaitley had mustered the courage of his conviction and one fine morning announced to the world that the government was firing Rajan, and then listed the reasons. Or simply glossed over these and exercised the government’s prerogative to appoint a new governor.

But the government did nothing of that sort. On the contrary, when due to extraneous considerations the powers that be wanted to end Rajan’s tenure it was found opportune to press it Subramanian Swamy who came out with some old allegations (he had first levelled these even before the Modi government came to power in 2014), and when the government was confronted about these allegations, it took shelter under the fig leaf that this was Swamy’s personal view. However, we all know that this world does not run simply on the basis of things that are said for the sake of record. There are umpteen ways of conveying the message and Rajan must have read the writing on the wall that come September 4th, 2016 he would be denied a second term, so he took an honourable and graceful exit. This ‘execution’ has all the hall marks of a Sangh operation, and the most important element in this is the pleasure of having got a job done with minimum bloodshed and a lot of pontification.

Rajan certainly goes with his head held high, and with all the credit for having managed the macro-economic parameters of the economy in such challenging times. It would be difficult to find a single knowledgeable voice finding fault with him on account of either his performance or conduct. In days to come, he will be an authority on the Indian economic situation, and irrespective of the position he holds, either in the academia or elsewhere his views would command respect.

It is a sad day for the nation’s economy and democracy that a government has given more weight to the words of someone who takes pride in killing reputations. Swamy has a penchant for referring to Rajan as R3 in his tweets – though a professed Ram bhakt, he does not seem to realise that Raghupati Raghav Rajaram (is also R3) and as he rejoices in his success over R3’s exit it is time so say “Hey Ram”!

Before I conclude…

The revival of Indian hockey at the Champions trophy is a matter of great satisfaction and joy. Our lads may not have won the Gold, but then even the silver medal after 32 long years is no mean feat, more so as it comes months before the Rio Olympics. Perhaps after this silver lining, the golden glow not may be far.


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Raghupati Raghav Rajaram: Hey Ram!


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