- "Majoritarian nationalism is intrinsically divisive," he says
- His comments come amid a slowdown in the economy
- Raghuram Rajan is the former RBI governor
Former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan in his latest criticism seen to be directed at the centre has warned of the ill effects of "divisive, populist majoritarianism". The former RBI governor whose policy thinking differs from that of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi - Mr Rajan is a big critic of demonetisation - has said only "internal cohesion and economic growth" and not "majoritarianism" will help strengthen India's national security.
"I don't believe that the majoritarians actually improve national security, they weaken it, because they want national integration on their terms. In India, this means universal imposition of Hindutva," Mr Rajan said at the OP Jindal lecture at Watson Institute, Brown University, on October 9.
"Majoritarian nationalism is intrinsically divisive because it labels a bunch of citizens as 'the others' and by setting impossible terms for these minorities to be considered true citizens, it eventually ends up alienating them," Mr Rajan said in his speech at the university in Rhode Island, US.
"In the long run, it seems to me that internal cohesion and economic growth rather than divisive, populist majoritarianism will be India's root to national security. So all this sort of majoritarianism may certainly for a while win elections, but it is taking India down a dark and uncertain path," he said.
His comments come amid a slowdown in the economy that threatens to consume several key sectors from manufacturing to finance, and a controversy over an exercise to filter out illegal immigrants from Assam and other parts of the country that critics and even some proponents of such a policy say has serious flaws. The ruling BJP in Assam has promised to look at bringing a state law to fix gaps in the National Register of Citizens, which some BJP leaders say have excluded a number of Hindu migrants.
Mr Rajan's successor at the central bank, Urjit Patel, under whose watch PM Modi announced an overnight ban on high-value currency notes in November 2016, also left the RBI in December 2018 over differences with the government on a range of sticky matters including the central bank's autonomy.
Mr Rajan, as well as former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who is another fierce critic of demonetisation, maintain the cascading effects of the notes ban is still being felt in the economy.
Less than a year after Mr Patel left, the RBI in August approved a record Rs 1.76 lakh crore payout to the centre, boosting the government's coffers at a time when it was under pressure to provide a fiscal stimulus to the slowing economy. The transfer included Rs 1.23 lakh crore as dividend and Rs 52,640 crore from its surplus capital. The dividend payment included Rs 28,000 crore already transferred to the government in February.