March 30, 2020
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Raghuram Rajan

I feel I should be in the US now, with the government not functioning, no one getting paid and so on there...

Raghuram Rajan
Illustration by Sorit
Raghuram Rajan

I feel I should be in the US now, with the government not functioning, no one getting paid and so on there. Would have given be some much-needed rest. Life as the RBI governor is hard. Everyone wants to see me, have a chat, give me advice. Nothing can move without my signature on forms which are presented in triplicate. Already, I detect signs of hostility. One of the RBI panels on development ranked Gujarat as less developed. Since then I have been flooded with hate mail questioning my ability to judge development. Some of them are even nasty: ‘Just you wait, you World Bank moron...wait till NaMo gets you.’ You get the sense.

Still, there are compensations, everyone wants to entertain me, wants me to visit their homes, inaugurate this and that. By the way, what is ‘garba’ and why should I wear the traditional ‘kediyo’? I also get the most bizarre media write-ups, calling me the ‘JFK of Finance’ (JFK was a disaster in his economic policies), Reserve ‘Bankman’ and so on. Sometimes flattering, but most times embarrassing! I am sure the Fed chairman in the US did not undergo this ordeal. Designers and fashion professionals write all kinds of comments: ‘I am the last big hope for the battered Indian economy bec­ause the financial world has much faith in a dapper dresser.’ ‘He would do better if he switched from monotone stripes and checks to a cla­ssic two-button jacket with cigarette trousers.’ By the way, I don’t smoke.

I live and learn. There are shocks to be absorbed. A delegation from the Gujarat women’s fashion industry dropped in with a request that I chair a session on ‘development’. I could do that, I thought. But I was flummoxed when I found out that I had to judge the most ‘well-developed’ woman in Ahmedabad at a function presided over by CM Narendra Modi. And that I was to be presented with a golden tape studded with diamonds for this job. I recollected J.K. Galbraith’s comments when he was the US envoy to India. “Have you noted that women in underdeveloped countries had the most overdeveloped bosoms?” Sorry, I am not that observant.

I do feel a bit sluggish because I haven’t had time for my usual morning jog. My secretary says in case I resumed jogging, I should discard shorts and stick to jeans. Media photographers are lining up outside my residence to take pics of myself in shorts and publish them under captions like ‘RBI Guv with the Mostest Legs’. I can expect the most gushing articles on how a pair of great legs can save the Indian Economy and more invitations to beauty contests where I will be asked to question candidates on their shapely legs. The wife and kids are hugely amused, often irritating me with snide comments.

The Mumbai-based satirist is the creator of ‘Trishanku’; E-mail your secret diarist: vgangadhar70 AT

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