By Hardik Rajgor Dec. 10, 2018
So much has happened between the RBI and the government in the last few months that it feels like a retelling of A Series of Unfortunate Events. In August, the government appointed S Gurumurthy, an RSS ideologue, to the RBI’s central board. Today, the RBI Governor Urjit Patel has resigned citing personal reasons.
Congratulations on the Statue of Unity, it’s a marvellous structure. While I appreciate you building a statue for one Patel, I am uncomfortable with the idea that you wanted to turn another Patel (me) into a living statue. Accuse me of overreacting, but how did you expect me to feel when so much happened in the last couple of months? The independence of the RBI was under so much threat that I had to change the subject line of my resignation mail to Preserve Bank of India.
I preferred our arguments over those long mail threads with half the office marked, but when Arun Jaitley decided to make the feud public, I had no choice but to awaken the Gir Lion inside me. On purpose, I chose a guy named Viral to issue comments on my behalf so that the message would be loud, clear, and… viral.
I get it, this is election year and you want more money so you can roll out some schemes and campaign across the country to tell us what an awful Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was. Who doesn’t want to dole out cash just before election season? Even my neighbour’s three-year-old son wishes he could buy a new phone everyday but it’s a stupid idea and that’s why he doesn’t handle finances at home. Remember the time you thought demonetisation was the best thing since sliced bread? The brahmastra that the Indian economy needed – and you laboured that metaphor further by calling it a “surgical strike” on black money? Well, guess what? You asked for our advice and we told you it was a shitty idea but like that drunk friend who texts his ex, you went ahead anyway. How did that work out for y’all?
I know you don’t like me, and can I just say, the feeling is mutual.
There’s a reason the RBI and the Finance Ministry have distinct jobs, and it’s best if you didn’t interfere in ours and we didn’t interfere in yours. Did you see what happened when Raghu Ram was asked to do comedy in Tees Maar Khan? People are still recovering in hospitals. At this point, our story feels like a retelling of A Series of Unfortunate Events. In August, you appointed S Gurumurthy, an RSS ideologue, to the RBI’s central board. First off, the only thing the RSS has in common with the finance folks at the RBI is a terrible fashion sensibility. But Gurumurthy surprised everyone when he claimed that India’s liquidity problem could be solved if the power to print currency was in the government’s hands. My economics degree from Yale University cried actual tears.
I really wished you lot could make up your minds. One day we were accused of reckless lending in the past that led to the current bad loans crisis. The next day we were accused of choking up the banking system with too many regulations. Which one is it?! Aadmi kare to kya kare?
As we speak, you are drafting new regulations to enable closer supervision of the RBI. Why don’t you take my Gmail and Windows password while you are at it, eh? You also wanted to invoke section 7 and give us direct orders, something that has never happened in the RBI’s 83-year old history. Sure, that’s what I want on my CV – to take directions from people who thought demonetisation was a great idea and get blamed for the next blunder.
I have to say, though, that I have one thing to thank you for. For the first time since the RBI started, the general public is aware of what goes on behind our closed doors. Even when Raghuram Rajan was the governor, folks would only discuss him as a thirst trap. Now, however, people ought to be discussing the India-Australia cricket series and not RBI vs Government.
I know you don’t like me, and can I just say, the feeling is mutual. You may not have respect for me and the institution I represented, but the markets and the world looked at us as an independent regulator with a strong influence on monetary policy. Now that I have quit right before a national election, congratulations on the alarm bells and the ripples that will be felt in the market. It’s like changing the captain from Virat Kohli to Rohit Sharma in the middle of the World Cup, you simply don’t do it.
Now that I have quit, I am looking forward to grabbing a drink with my mates Raghuram Rajan and Arvind Subramanian so we can do what employees usually do after quitting – bitch about their former bosses.