Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has put his active services on the table, should India require them to help tackle the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic which has now claimed over 100,000 lives globally and brought the world to a standstill.
Speaking to a news channel over a range of issues including the global and Indian response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which is now increasingly being cited as an almost epochal event in modern history, Rajan, who currently serves as the Katherine Dusak Miller Professor of Finance at the prestigious Chicago Booth School of Business in the US, went one step further from his recent assertion via a blog post that the government should call upon people with proven expertise and capabilities to help manage its response.
Raghuram Rajan had had a somewhat acrimonious and high-profile departure from the Reserve Bank of India in mid-2016, opting out of adding a 2-year extension to his 3-year tenure at the central bank's helm. He had been the last RBI Governor to be appointed by the then Manmohan Singh-led UPA 2 government and had served as Chief Economic Advisor before that. Since then, the former IMF chief economist returned to the world of academia in the US, occasionally weighing in on prevailing economic and increasingly political issues in India, but largely refraining from 'telling-all' about his departure.
When asked if he'd let bygones be bygones and come back if asked, Rajan said, "Look, I think this is a time of emergency. And there are no bygones. I'm an Indian citizen and I am very very closely engaged in seeing what's happening to India and worrying about it every day. Any Indian citizen, when called upon, will do what is necessary in a time of need, so I don't think that is an issue. I think the real issue is how any resolution has to be enmeshed with medium and long-term - that we weren't in a great place to begin with - and how we reassure our citizens as well as the foreign and domestic investors that after we deal with the virus we don't go back to status-quo - that we move forward that we reach a better place. That is really what's needed in the country today."
When pressed on whether his above assertion that any Indian would do what's necessary when called upon applies to himself and he'd come back if asked and help India, he said, "Well I think the answer's pretty straightforward - Yes"
This comes just six days after a detailed post on his LinkedIn, in which Rajan had expressed his thoughts on what he held to be 'probably India's greatest challenge in recent times.'
"There is much to do. The government should call on people with proven expertise and capabilities, of whom there are so many in India, to help it manage its response. It may even want to reach across the political aisle to draw in members of the opposition who have had experience in previous times of great stress like the global financial crisis. If, however, the government insists on driving everything from the PMO, with the same overworked people, it will do too little, too late."
Rajan has also been appointed by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva to her 11-member external advisory group.