Illustration: Soham Sen | ThePrint
Text Size:

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan discussed the economic effects of Covid lockdown in a video chat. Rajan stressed that with 100 million people put out of work, India must open up the economy in a measured way, and called for a relief package of Rs 65,000 crore.

ThePrint asks: Is Raghuram Rajan a well-meaning economist or partisan critic?


Rajan spoke as an independent economist, cynicism is natural in an era where Akshay Kumar interviews Modi

Pawan Khera
National spokesperson, Congress

The world is facing an unprecedented era of uncertainty and gloom. At the very beginning of the pandemic, Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party had made it very clear that we are here in solidarity with the Narendra Modi government and will help find answers.

The government implemented some of the suggestions made by Sonia Gandhi, P. Chidambaram and Rahul Gandhi. A responsible leader does not wait for a calamity to take its toll and then lord over the debris of what is left behind.

Rahul Gandhi provides much required leadership at a time when everything is seen through the prism of partisan politics. Raghuram Rajan and Rahul Gandhi spoke about the problems the country is facing and the possible solutions. While Rahul was frank in his observations of inequalities having increased over the decades, Raghuram Rajan spoke as an independent economist — as a professional.

The cynicism of your TalkPoint is natural in an era where an Akshay Kumar gets to interview Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ask questions such as how does he like to eat his mango — and it doesn’t bother anyone. But doubts are raised when economist and former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan holds a conversation with Rahul Gandhi on reviving the economy.

There is always a choice between diagnosis today or autopsy tomorrow. Rahul chose diagnosis and he chose Raghuram Rajan to help him with it.


Rahul Gandhi asked questions that were on everyone’s mind but Raghuram Rajan didn’t give explicit answers

Gopal Krishna Agarwal | @gopalkagarwalGopal Krishna Agarwal
National spokesperson, BJP (Economic Affairs)

As a globally noted economist who has worked closely on the Indian economy, Raghuram Rajan should have been more candid and in-depth with his answers during his interview with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Gandhi asked questions that were on everyone’s mind but they weren’t met with explicit suggestions. For example, Rajan said Rs 65,000 crore was required to help the poor but gave no explanation on how he arrived at that figure. Besides, the Modi government has already provided Rs 28,256 crore through the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana out of the total package of Rs 1.7 lakh crore.

Also, the issue of major loan defaulters like Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya and Mehul Choksi didn’t arise in the conversation. Perhaps it’s because Rajan was the RBI governor and the Congress was in power when some of these loans were given out.

That’s not to say that this conversation, meant to be about the economy, wasn’t politicised. Gandhi’s questions about “authoritarian governments” and centralised power structure in India were political enough and, might I add, irrelevant. He forgot about the Emergency imposed by the Congress.


Rajan’s estimate of Rs 65,000-crore package for the poor should not be dismissed

Arjun Jayadev
Professor of Economics at the School of Arts and Sciences at Azim Premji University

Raghuram Rajan is a well-meaning economist who is honest about his ideas and has been involved in distinguished public service as RBI governor. It’s unfortunate that he is being accused of partisan politics.

As far as his estimate of Rs 65,000-crore package for the poor is concerned, many different numbers have been put forth by the likes of former CEA Arvind Subramanian and Devesh Kapur of Johns Hopkins University. That said, I wouldn’t be able to comment on how he arrived at this sum but given his expertise, it is not a number to be dismissed.

In the last few years, suggestions for or criticism of the Narendra Modi government have come to be seen as partisan or an attack. We have seen this whenever something comes up about data. Most recently regarding data on unemployment. I fear that we are perilously close to a situation where we cannot have a rational discourse.

Also, it’s not out of our purview to be thinking of decentralisation and granting state powers to deal with the Covid-19 situation, which is proving to be more localised. We definitely need central responses, but decentralisd power in this context is quite essential.


Rajan is being criticised by Modi government because his reading of the economic downfall has been correct

Ashutosh Sinha
Business journalist

Economic data speak louder than words and it’s clear India is being hit where it hurts the most.

If the Narendra Modi government expected hosannas to be sung for its handling of the economy, Raghuram Rajan did not play ball. Only few economists will defend the Modi government’s performance.

Rajan’s impeccable credentials, his direction and leadership, if at all, have rarely been questioned at the RBI.

His suggestion for the government to take action against high-profile cases, where big businesses had loans outstanding against them, was one of the highlights. A parliamentary committee under former Union minister Murli Manohar Joshi had sought his inputs on the bad-loan crisis. It did not win him friends.

Rajan was the man who had warned against the unfolding subprime crisis in the US. It unfolded into a global financial crisis. Clearly, his credentials as an economist were never in doubt.

The fortuitous turn of events, catapulting the BJP to power, is perhaps what has led to the criticism of Rajan. His reading of the economy, of falling demand, and higher cost of finance have, ultimately, proven correct.

Rajan has raised issues that have been critical of the BJP government, which have led to heightened criticism of him. He also suggested former finance minister Arun Jaitley to make the government rein in spending, which did not make him endearing.


Also read: Is talk of lifting lockdown premature or is it necessary to allow some economic activity?


By Pia Krishnankutty, journalist at ThePrint

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism

28 Comments Share Your Views

28 COMMENTS

  1. As it is being projected rajan is not a great economist.much has been made out of his prediction of 2008 financial crisis.reputed economist nouruel roubini also predicted and John Paulson hedge fund manager made billions of dollars by predicting it.As far as Rajan’s tenure in rbi it was lacklustre.why did bad loans pile up during his tenure,pnb scam was in making only during his tenure.His comments about government was unwarranted.world wide central bank governors don’t make any political comments whereas rajan talked about the virtue of tolerance.his latest shenanigan was to announce to the world that he is ready to serve in any capacity to help india .It looks like as if he is worse than a politician hankering after posts.now that he has participated in a discussion with AICC he can join overseas branch of congress (I) .he has got a good chance of becoming Chicago chief of overseas congress

  2. Sir please don’t discuss. Pl take some simple hard decision

    Think over
    No freebess, waste of money.no value.
    Infrastructure Develop ment , quality wise . dams,roads railway, airway , waterways.
    Curtail/ abolish subsidise.
    Make people work, develop work culture. People will ing to work.
    Indian r nt beggers,they r v hard working people, work nd pay .
    Control/abolish corruption , Bring transparency.especially at panchayat, municipal,tashel, corporation level.( Tremendous corruption with immunity)
    TAX every body. Panshop, fruits stall, pitty bussiness ,
    Double bus nd railway fares, why subside nd run in loss.
    Tax mobile phone rs3000/ 2wheller rs 6000/ 4wheller rs 15000/ whilee buying itself. ( 85 cr Mobile Phone,2 whellers 4wheller but only 5cr tax payers, bahut beinsafi)

    Restrict reservation in education / abolish . Certainly not in jobs MERIT MUST
    No pay/pension for MP, MLA, MLC, ( not giving for govt retired people) it’s social service.
    Select each district nd start developing it, ( involve local people discuss their problems nd u will get solution) VERY SIMPLE.
    People r not working but getting handsome pay in general , govt job holder least no accountability.
    ELECTRICITY BOARD s inloss. Why?.
    Light chore, nt paying bills ect .
    Every where govt bussiness in loss BANKS???? On accountability.
    UNDER UTILISATION OF RESOURCES.
    IF THERE’S WILL THERE IS WAY

  3. Rahul gandhi hust have had an intellectual discussion and must have shared his vision of India. The vision which has taken Congress to great heights in the past decade.

  4. It is politically motivated. He was made to resign his post by modi govt so he has joined hands with the good for nothing congress fellows. Evev highly educated people fall pray to political ransom

  5. Rajan has truly lost his credibility as he is not ready to look at things transpired during his time. It is very easy to advise sitting in the ac cabin somewhere rather than taking a responsibility when one is at the helm of affairs. And an interview with RG is a pure joke.

  6. 1. I could not ask for clarifications in your you tube interviews and cut the clutter etc as there are no options.
    2. I attended the ilanomics session uploaded today by The print . The speaker wanted the govt to be careful to and not jump to provide stimulus and the speaker was telling repeatedly, that govt has to watch the revenue prospect and then only they can help.
    Currently, India’s 1.3 billion population living out of the petty savings of self or from savings of others through charity.
    My question is does govt never keeps any savings for taking care of citizens during calamities.
    I could not understand how economics of a govt is planned without savings.

  7. Print is against Modi led NDA Govt. It’s articles are biased & prejudiced with an intent to malign govt performance in it’s totality such as reforms taken sofar to achieve targeted aims & objectives etc.

  8. The academic certificates are the proofs of Mr. Rajan which is the most sufficient keys to realise his in depth sense on Economy. Our political masters are not capable to get him anyway.

    • Academic credentials don’t matter much.practical solutions to problems are important that will come only by experience.

  9. “Rahul Gandhi’s conversation with Raghuram Rajan sought to repackage dynast as an ‘intellectual,’ but ended up reinforcing exactly the opposite.” says FIRSTPOST
    If anticipation is one of the qualities of an Intelligent man then the question to ask is ” Was part of the intelligence compromised in the public display of this conversation”
    Or is it an advance booking , just in case the dynast comes back to power.

  10. Rajan & Rahul are talking about India tomorrow, not India the day b4 yester. BJP and RSS officialdom can only beat about the bush. Even in this critical period they are trying to pull skeletons out, forgetting the 2moro is on their face. The migrant labourers issue saw all slime fish and egg all over the PM’s face. He cut a sorry figure coming on air soon to tender an apology and confess what people have been calling him behind his back. His think tank has not read any situation right until this moment. They wake up and realise the stable has not been bolted 3 days after the horse has galloped. Then they turn to look for Rahul or UP A and failing e everything else turn to Jawaharlal Nehru. Clearly Rahul makes for a more astitute leader than Narendra Modi,providing India cannot throw up a better than Dr Manmohan Singh.

    • ”Rahul makes for a more astitute leader than Narendra Modi” He is a duffer and his family has looted billions.
      ”India cannot throw up a better than Dr Manmohan Singh” Of course. It was under his stewardship billions were looted buy Congies. No other person other than Mr.Singh knows how to have a shower without getting wet.

    • For your kind information modi apologised to nation not for lockdown rather he has been forced to do so.In a lockdown there is bound to be economic hardship alternative is death.keep this in my mind.

  11. Raghuram Rajan interacting with Rahul Gandhi on Indian Economy lowers Rajan’s credibility as a best-in-class Economist. Dr Manmohan Singh, Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia or even Mr P Chidambram would have been better choices to hold this discussion.
    Somewhere, Prof Rajan himself has gone on a trust-deficit journey given the fact that India Inc degenerated into a limbo during 2009-2014 UPA era. He had the opportunity but he did not deliver.
    On the other hand, no one really has any expectations from Mr Rahul Gandhi.

    A wasted opportunity that could have been a good discussion between ‘genuinely’ intelligent minds!

  12. What is new, every layman knows that after lock down economic conditions would be difficult.

    Dogs would always bark when anybody bigger like elephants they see is working without their attention.

  13. Raghuram Rajan wears thin veil of economist. He is a closet politician. Nothing wrong if he discards his robe and becomes a politician. He cannot continue his pretense of being an economist only.

  14. Appreciate Mr Rahul Ghandy taking lessons from Mr Rajan. He should have been through this kind of tutoring a long time ago, much before he made a habit of putting his foot in his mouth each time he spoke.
    We need a viable alternative to Mr Modi. If the Congress believes it is Mr Ghandy, please educate him instead of writing his speeches. Even an illiterate can tell he does not speak his words.

  15. A dishonest way of projecting the talk between two non entities, both are irrelevant, the successive RBI governor’s have done wonderful job, Raghuram Rajan willfully never disclosed the role of RBI….while loans were distributed to all undry and sundry…a man of low integrity, knowing is not important, what’s more important is doing things ethically and being honest of bringing facts…..the entire interview was bogus as it was with pre-planned questions and answers
    I suppose Rajan dreams of becoming Manmohan Singh under Rahul …if and if it happens

  16. Raghuram Rajan should come out in the open and join the Congress. His anti Modi, pro Congress stand is well known. Why does he not just be honest about it? Being a good economist is not enough. One must also have character and depth as part of one’s persona.

  17. Both gentlemen are irrelevant in India.
    Rajan gave some big numbers, anyone can do that.
    The key is the logistics, how do you deliver the benefits to the 40-50 crore people.

  18. Why is former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan hold a conversation with Rahul Gandhi who has no say in Policy Matters on reviving the economy? He should give the advise to Govt of India instad.

  19. Raghu Ram Rajan, why he left RBI is quite clear. He had wanted Modi Government to continue him, Is it not a sarcasm that Ram in BJPhad to leave the nation. Well maintained economy & his approach towards NPA, are the real reasons.
    Moreover while demonetisation declared he openly made contrasting statements. Even to last& present FM he on off warned the regression of economy, downfall of progress, GDP but the government was not ready accept the economy of India has not given due care . He once made statement that unless the government accepts there is downfall, then there is scope to prepare for the same. IMF just took him on the advisory board.
    Why not Modi Government? Even A.Banerji asked govt. to to pour money in the market as the way possible. Even by increasing printing, if not How is possible the stoppage of economy wheels get speed . Rajan clearly recommended to pour 65000crore , once a governor of Gr. RBI. He is not critic but real intergrity towards nation & Economy. In India Manmohan Singh who revived In India Economy, Monteksingh Ahuluwalia. Mr. Rangarajan, Abhiji Chattargi, Amartya Sen, the noble laourets . More efficient. real Ecomist . Not IAS in history. Like MrDas limited knowledge & Govt. hand doll

  20. Talk show of Shri Raghuam and Rahul G is like explaining Quantum theory to a K.G. student . Hope student learnt and remembered some of the talk .

  21. I was a great fan of Dr Rajan’s when he was Governor of the RBI. He would have made a fine FM, on the lines of Dr Singh. However, he is now clearly a political actor. In this interview, when he told RG, That’s a great question, I switched off the clip. One can always tell the difference between PR and a genuine conversation. Even if the altitude is higher than comparing the merit of sucking and slicing mangoes. The intellectually honest thing to do would be to resign the professorship in Chicago and become part of the top Congress team, shadow FM if PC is willing to concede the spot.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here