Special Report

RBI: In and out in a snap

RBI: In and out in a snap

The suddenness of the resignation of Urjit Patel as RBI Governor was matched by the government when without lingering for a moment it filled the vacant post. It can be praised for this, though it ought to have avoided the circumstances which force Patel’s exit. Shaktikanta Das, a key Finance Ministry secretary when demonetisation was sprung on the nation, has obviously been picked up to man the sensitive charge in the hope that he would carry to Mint Street his low-key, order-taking bureaucratic persona. Experience, however, belies that hope. Before Das, several IAS officers have become RBI governors, but all ceased to be pliant on stepping into Mint Street.

D Subba Rao, who was P Chidambram’s Finance Secretary, before being made the RBI head had a running battle with his former boss over repo rate and other things. He refused to buckle under pressure. So much so, Rao recorded in his book how Chidambaram angrily snubbed him at a dinner when the two were in Washington for the annual IMF-World Bank meeting. This is not to suggest that Das would be, or should be, confrontational vis-à-vis the government, but merely to put in perspective the vastly different nature of the responsibilities of the RBI Governor as against those of the ruling politicians who always have one eye fixed on the popular pulse. In the immediate, of course, some easing of liquidity, funds for the micro, small and medium entrepreneurs, and even a small cut in the basic lending rate can be expected. The government wants these ahead of the parliamentary poll early next year. The share markets gave Das a huge thumbs-up on Wednesday believing he would do the needful. We will keep our fingers firmly crossed.



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