NEW DELHI — When India’s central banker announced that he will be returning to teach in Chicago this September, many of his fans, including members of the Indian intelligentsia, were devastated.
He has been called India’s rock-star banker, even compared to James Bond. But his relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government have been choppy. Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman criticized him in April for his choice of words when he described the Indian economy as “the one-eyed man being king in the land of the blind.”
A controversial member of Modi’s party, the lawmaker Subramanian Swamy said Rajan was “mentally not fully Indian” and accused him of harming the economy. He urged Modi to fire him, after which Rajan’s exit was the subject of much speculation here.
In a statement Saturday, Rajan said that he took over as the central banker at a time when the Indian currency was plunging, inflation was soaring and growth was weak. “Today we are the fastest growing large economy in the world,” he wrote.
But, he said, “I am an academic and I have always made it clear that my ultimate home is in the realm of ideas.”
“Rajan’s exit saddens India Inc,” said a headline in the Hindustan Times newspaper on Sunday. “Chief banker loses interest,” said the Times of India.
Here is how many on Twitter reacted.
Raghuram Rajan's exit leaves me a sad man. We really have no respect for good, capable people. We deserve the mediocre lot thrust on us.— Pritish Nandy (@PritishNandy) June 18, 2016
Rahul Gandhi, the vice president of India’s opposition Congress party tweeted with a note of sarcasm.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi knows everything. He has no need for experts like Raghuram Rajan— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 18, 2016
Some said that the outpouring of grief on Twitter was unnecessary.
Why not have a woman lead RBI as Governor for a change? Let's stop assuming that Raghuram Rajan was indispensable. https://t.co/F7CuZr5a9r
The Government appreciates the good work done by him and respects his decision. A decision on his successor would be announced shortly.(2/2)— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) June 18, 2016