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Raghuram Rajan, the rockstar banker who unsettled one too many

business Updated: Sep 05, 2016 01:47 IST
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Raghuram Rajan’s tenure as governor of Reserve Bank of India ended on September 4. His deputy Urjit Patel (R) takes over from him on September 5.(PTI)

As Mint Street readies for its new sheriff Urjit Patel on Monday, the three-year tenure marked with numerous controversies ended for Raghuram Rajan on Sunday.

Read | All you need to know about new RBI governor Urjit Patel

He rocked too many boats while heading the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) — earning ‘ad hominem’ attacks and also open criticism by those wanting him to be faster with rate cuts and much slower on cleaning the balance sheets of banks.

But those showering him with bouquets were numerous too, giving him titles like ‘Rockstar Rajan’ and ‘Bond of Mint Street’, which he himself appeared to acknowledge by once remarking — “My name is Rajan and I do what I do” — a clear play on the introductory dialogue of the famous British spy character James Bond.

Read | He is Raghuram Rajan: Here is what he did for India

The most vocal critics of Raghuram Govind Rajan — incidentally a name having names of multiple gods — came from right-wing ideologues, including for his analogy that India’s fastest-growing economy tag was like the ‘one-eyed being king among the blind’, which many attribute as the prime reason for his tenure not being stretched beyond three years — the lowest for any RBI governor in a long time.

Read | RBI governors: From Osborne Smith to Raghuram Rajan

Outspoken as he has been with his views, 53-year-old Rajan went on to make public that he was willing to stay longer but an “agreement” could not be reached with the government in this regard.

Read | Raghuram Rajan’s departure is hardly a surprise

Rajan, who is credited with predicting the global economic crisis of 2008 and has decided to return to academia, said he would be back with his public speeches in India after a break, while making a strong pitch for retaining RBI’s autonomy and allowing it to say “no” to the government whenever required. While he is expected to resume his job as Professor of Finance at Chicago University, from where he has been on leave, those in the know say that he may also take up some other assignments in due course, including in academics. Earlier, Rajan had served as chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.

Read more | RBI chief Raghuram Rajan felt undermined in weeks before quitting: Report