Friday, March 5, 2021

What Raghuram Rajan’s decision means for us all

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Why ordinary citizens should make the most noise as the head of the Reserve Bank of India Raghuram Rajan leaves his post

It’s official. Raghuram Rajan will not seek a second term as the head of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). He will return to academia in the US.
Such a shame, in my view.
Raghuram Rajan.Indian Link
What blatant disregard of well-intentioned, educated and rational individuals at the hands of a power hungry, largely divisive, and autocratic political set-up in India.
It’s a shame, because, with this saga, the Indian government, and the Indian political set-up have discouraged many educated, progressive, renowned, professionals of Indian origin abroad, who may have contemplated moving back to India with a view to making a difference. More so, Rajan’s decision has perhaps vindicated the decision of many others to emigrate from India.

India is a nation of sycophants. There exists a pyramid of power, of sorts, within India’s political ranks. A battery of leaders at the top of the chain, flattered by an entire army of power-seeking minions beneath them, all the way through to the bottom. The model is consistent for all political parties. Yes, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) included.

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In such a culture, you survive only by conforming to the ‘orders’ and the fallacies of the top mob. You seldom question the ones in power, and you never rebel. For doing so will either be treason or blasphemy. You may be a world-leading expert in your own right like Rajan is (and much deservedly so), but your professional merit and integrity count for bugger all to a political framework more eager to get elected, or, stay in power, at any cost.
Rational and matter of fact views of the Indian economy and its future, as often presented by Rajan, ran a risk of empowering the citizens and making them aware of the real challenges faced by their nation. How could the political parties have allowed such a straight shooting intellectual (who knew what he was talking about) to rail road their shabby rhetoric of ‘achche din’? Would that not be extremely ‘un-Indian’ of Rajan?
When you have worked across cultures, and across borders, you don’t only grow as a professional; you grow as an individual too. You are better grounded, more aware, and more considered in your actions. Rajan is a leading example of such professionalism. He is measured, informed and extremely articulate. He does not fear being challenged on professional decisions and has the integrity to debate matters with dignity and poise. How un-Indian is that in itself. Obviously, he had no other choice but to leave. He was an utter misfit. Undeniably.
In every sticky situation there’s usually more than one choice at one’s disposal. I am sure Rajan too had those choices in this matter. To trade-in his values and ethos and stay on as the head of RBI for another term, or to leave this rotten web of political mavericks and work with people seeking to learn and develop themselves through academic institutions. And in my view, he must be greatly applauded for making the latter choice. It’s easy to succumb to enticements of power, but to make a moral choice is a much harder proposition. Something the Indian political class is not accustomed to.
And herein lies a subtle lesson for all Indian citizens. A person who is empowered, and has a trade or a skill to fall back on, is less likely to be manipulated by the corrupt and manipulative political class. Such people can make their own choices, and do just fine in life. That is one way to weed out opportunistic politics.
The media will be lush with ‘professional’ opinions about Rajan’s departure and his successor, over the next few days. But I feel it is important that ordinary opinions and frustrations of people like you and me, are put out there as well. A Barkha Dutt or Arnab Goswami are not our crusaders in this struggle against corrupt and compromised Indian political establishments. They are mere professionals seeking expert merit, and revenue, through their opinions.
The real hurt and the real sentiments lie within all of us. So, we must be the people making most of the noise.

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Sanam Sharma
A typical middle class guy who is abundantly opinionated, moderately flawed, and adequately grounded

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