Dear Raghu Rajan, Many Fully Indian Minds Want You

Published: June 09, 2016 12:29 IST
For decades, my only heartthrob was Elvis Presley. Today, that privileged position has a worthy challenger: India's RBI governor, Raghuram Rajan. This week, he urged mediawallas to be patient. "It would be cruel of me to spoil the fun the press is having...I'm sure you will know when there is news." He was referring to the suspense over his extension when his three-year term ends in September. 

The man is a tease! I mean, come on...he knew that the well-timed press conference was not only about the credit policy. The credit policy be damned. Everyone wanted to know just one thing: Is the rockstar staying or going? Was this his last gig before kissing his fans goodbye? Would there be a farewell concert three months down the line, with the front rows reserved for Arun Jaitley and friends? Why was Rajan playing coy?

So here's the scenario. I swear this is 100% true. I was to have dinner with a girl-friend on Tuesday night. She called to say she'd be a little late after finishing her edit. What was so special about this edit that it would take her extra time? She said it was going to be filed after she attended Raghuram Rajan's press conference earlier in the day. I sighed. I wondered whether he'd wear his blue suede shoes. Then she whispered, "What do you think I should wear?" Oh man! Her, too? I told her to wear something she felt great in. "Does he know you? I, would he greet you, say 'Hi' and stuff like that?" I think she was blushing. She giggled. I giggled. 

Raghu makes grown women giggle. And behave very foolishly. 

Anyway, she said he had acknowledged her presence at the last press conference and she was hoping to catch his eye this time. I pretended to choke with emotion and said, "If you get the chance, please look deep into his eyes and ask him more on the repo rate...oh, and if you can, throw in a question about the anticipated upsurge in inflationary pressures." 

Raghuram Rajan's three-year tenure as RBI Governor ends in September (File photo)

Actually, I wanted her to croon one of my favourite Elvis numbers to the Guv: "Are you lonesome tonight..." Stop it! I told myself to behave - while she searched for her brightest red lipstick and checked her nails for chipped polish.

What to do? We are like that only, when it comes to Raghu. 

Awwww. Relax, guys. Just ribbing a man who can take it, okay? How do I know? Well, remember that piece I had written on him soon after he took over from...? He was the new chap on the block. So very different from the other staid and stodgy fellows who look after India's bottom line. I hadn't met him at the point. I was just having fun converting him into the hottest sex symbol in town. "Sexy, sexy, sexy mujhe log boley...Hi, sexy, Hello, sexy, kyun na boley?" was suggested as a theme song. Why not? He was tall, dark and handsome. His eyes twinkled. He spoke well. Dressed sharp. And came with brilliant credentials. What was there not to love? Readers were in a state of shock. And there was widespread outrage. How dare anybody refer to India's Reserve Bank Governor is less than sepulchral terms? Ummm. I'd done just that. And the sky hadn't fallen down!

I met him for the very first time at a formal (very starchy and boring) function three months ago. He blushed. I blushed. I noticed a champagne flute in his hand. Saved! I also took in his well-tailored band-gala with elegant enamel buttons. Niccccceee! I was man-crushing. He was such a sport too. We both laughed about "that" article and that was that. 

Raghuram Rajan has been accused by BJP's Subramanian Swamy of "willful" moves to "wreck the Indian economy" because he is "mentally not fully Indian." 

This is how it should be. And can be. Raghuram Rajan knows his job. He is urbane, well-travelled, sophisticated. Maybe that's his problem. He is way too self-respecting to play ball with the babus or kowtow to ministerjis. Delhiwalas are uncomfortable with people like him - people who are world-class professionals. People who believe in delivering what they've signed up for. Raghu has one of the keenest minds in the country. Maybe that's a problem, too. Not only does he have a mind of his own, he speaks it when required. As he must, as he should.

Come September, and Raghuram Rajan could happily waltz away from India and the boiling cauldron of hate politics that it has become. "Not mentally fully Indian" said Subramanian Swamy about him. Raghu is Swamy's bete noire. For the rest of the mentally sound fully Indians, Raghuram Rajan is a real Bharat Ratna, whether or not he receives the honour. The thing is, Raghuram Rajan may not need the job...he may not need India. But India sure as hell needs him. We can hardly afford to lose the man. If we do, the cruel joke would then be on us.

(Shobhaa De is an established writer, columnist, opinion shaper and social commentator, who is considered an authority on popular culture.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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