Reserve Bank of India governors hold forth on many subjects of critical importance during their post-monetary policy media briefings. But no governor has ever had to answer questions about his citizenship.
But Raghuram Rajan had to spend time on Tuesday explaining to the media that he was indeed an Indian. "I am an Indian citizen and hold an Indian passport and have always held one," Rajan said, responding to a question on the controversy surrounding his citizenship. Bharatiya Janata Party leader Murli Manohar Joshi had brought up this issue in Parliament a few months ago, asking how a foreigner could be appointed RBI governor.
A visibly annoyed Rajan said, "It is shameful that we spend so much time on such issues. There was a time when India was open, when people didn't really care where a person came from. We sort of incorporated them in what we were doing."
"I will answer this question only once. I am proud of being an Indian citizen and have always been," he said, adding he held a green card which was just a work permit in the US. The green card, he said, was close to expiry, which means he has to "go through the whole process of reapplying just to keep it going".
"I have never applied for the citizenship of another country, have never been a citizen of another country and I have never taken a pledge of allegiance to another country. On occasions, I have held an Indian diplomatic passport because my father was in the foreign services and when I have travelled on behalf of the finance ministry," he said.