Wall Street Journal, 26 May 2016: Asked in an interview with Wall Street Journal whether he supported the reappointment of Mr. Rajan as governor, Mr. Modi said: “I don’t think this administrative subject can be an issue for the media."
Here goes the alleged transcript of a suspected meeting in the finance ministry, according to notoriously unreliable sources:
Top babu: Now that we have disposed of the item about the size of dosas in the office canteen, we come to the next administrative subject on the agenda: an extension for one Mr R. Rajan of the Reserve Bank.
Senior babu: Right, let’s start. What is his attendance record?
Junior babu: He’s been attending office pretty regularly.
Top babu: How many times has he been marked late?
Lowly minion: We don’t have that record, sir.
Top babu: Ask the RBI. Next, neatness and cleanliness?
Senior babu: He wears very nice suits.
Junior babu: Shaves regularly, sir.
Top babu: Alright, give him an A for appearance.
Junior babu: Next is initiative and resourcefulness.
Lowly minion: He’s introduced awesome things like inflation targeting, sir.
Senior babu: And some pretty nifty moves to stabilize the rupee and other stuff I forget.
Top babu: A for initiative. Write, ‘Mr Rajan is resourceful and original in giving suggestions and pursues them constructively.’
Lowly minion: Done, sir.
Top babu: How’s his job knowledge?
Junior babu: Awesome, sir, he talks very knowledgeably of arcane things like yield curves.
Senior babu: Sounds faintly salacious to me.
Junior babu: He also knows a lot about real interest rates and he’s been talking of negative interest rates lately.
Top babu: Frankly, they charge some very unreal interest rates on my credit card bills. Negative rates are very welcome. Ok then, give him a B for job knowledge, can’t give him too many As, bad form.
Lowly minion: Are you sure?
Senior babu: You want a posting to Mizoram?
Lowly minion: No sir, whatever you say, sir.
Top babu: Drafting and correspondence. Rate his correspondence and notes for analytical acumen and power of expression.
Senior babu: He’s pretty clear and rather direct.
Top babu: You mean he doesn’t waffle?
Lowly minion: No sir.
Top babu: What kind of a central banker is he, if he doesn’t waffle? He should learn at the feet of Alan Greenspan, the master equivocator. Give him a C. We come next to general intelligence.
Junior babu: He said ‘In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king’, sir.
Senior babu: The original Latin is ‘in regione caecorum rex est luscus’, credited to Erasmus.
Top babu: Tsk, tsk, he should have used Latin. Give him a B. Which country was he talking about? Pakistan?
Lowly minion: He was talking about the Indian rate of economic growth, in the context of anaemic world growth, sir.
Top babu: Some cheek, that.
Senior babu: He also said ‘I am Raghuram Rajan and I do what I do’. And some rather supercilious things about ‘Make in India’.
Top babu: Oh yeah? Isn’t there something about not shooting one’s mouth off?
Junior babu: Conduct and discipline, sir?
Top babu: Right. Give him a C on that.
Senior babu: Someone said he’s not mentally Indian.
Top babu: We shouldn’t go by hearsay. I suggest one of you go and meet him. During the meeting, look towards the door and suddenly say, ‘Hey, was that Sunny Leone who just walked past?’ If he rushes to the door, he’s totally Indian male.
Junior babu: Will do, sir.
Senior babu: He’s also been raising interest rates.
Lowly minion: Actually, sir he first raised them and is now lowering them.
Top babu: Smacks of indecision to me. C for decision-making skills.
Senior babu: Sir, we have plenty of other administrative decisions to take.
Top babu: Let’s run through this quickly. Supervision and control? Quantity and quality of work? Leadership and drive? Interest in the assignment? What has he done for the welfare of downtrodden sections in the Reserve Bank?
Senior babu: Let’s give him Two As, two Bs and one C?
Lowly minion: We have no record of his helping the downtrodden people in RBI, sir.
Top babu: What has he done to promote Hindi? Does he have adequate control over petty cash?
Senior babu: Let’s not forget the digital side. How many hits has the RBI website got? How many page views?
Junior babu: We don’t have that information, sir.
Top babu: We can’t take any decision unless we get all this data from RBI. Let’s move on. Next item on the agenda: getting a new carpet for my office.
Manas Chakravarty looks at trends and issues in the financial markets. Comments are welcome at email@example.com