The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Prakash Bansal, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
There have been stories of how the government was not pleased with the remark that the RBI governor had made. The minister for commerce had suggested that the RBI governor choose his metaphors carefully. Apparently, with his own brand of toxic mischief, Mani Shankar Aiyar had queried as to who the one-eyed king was. Looks like, in the scorching Indian summer, more than prickly heat, prickly hearts are the problem.
One is that the governor is a public intellectual who does express his views on many aspects of public policy – both domestic and global. In a public lecture in Basel in June 2013, he said that international bankers had a reputation between a conman and a pimp. In another lecture in 2014 at the Brookings Institution, he took on the Western central banks for their monetary policies calling them out for stealthily depreciating their exchange rates. Back home in India, he had commented on industrialists defaulting on loans and living lavishly. He had pushed banks to come clean with their bad loans. He is an ‘equal opportunity offender’ but with a purpose.
That actually brings us to our second factor. It is one thing to take offence when government policies are criticised publicly by officials who are part of the government but it is another thing to expect everyone to be a cheerleader for the government and the country. This government rightly took credit for strengthening the federal framework by devolving substantial resources as per the Fourteenth Finance Commission recommendations. It followed it up in this year’s budget with devolution to local governments. These things strengthen the institutional foundations of the democracy. Similarly, it should boldly announce that it would expect, encourage and empower (as the case may be) the Chief Economic Advisor, the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog and the RBI governor to act as ‘risk managers’ and ‘devil’s advocates’ for the government.
The economy may be a one-eyed king. But, political, business and thought leaders should take care to ensure that the society does not become the land of the blind-hearted. For its own sake and the country, the government should set an example to make India a land of big hearts.