As Raghuram Rajan got ready to leave for his new assignment with the Ministry of Finance this morning, showers hit the Capital. The rains may have disrupted the life in the city, but they seem to have brought good luck to the professor who came down from Chicago to advise the Indian government on economy.
“When I was leaving home this morning my bhabhi called up to say it’s a rainy day and it is always auspicious to start any new venture. I hope she is right,” Rajan said, as he started addressing a gathering of press reporters after assuming charge as the 15th Chief Economic Advisor today.
Rajan, who was hounded by mediapersons since morning for a “byte” or “quote” on his prescription for bringing the economy back on track, restrained from giving any quick-fix solution on his first day.
He merely said: “I am glad to be here… The world economy faces very serious challenges right now and India is no exception. I hope that over the coming days, I can help in whatever solution we devise.”
Earlier in the day, the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund met Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. He is also likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh soon.
It is widely believed that Rajan comes with strong credentials and is the right man for the job, when the economy is going through a tough phase. However, since the country will go for polls in 2014, Rajan will have limited scope to turn around the economy in this government’s regime.
Rajan, 49, has replaced Kaushik Basu who has moved back to Cornell University after about two-and-half-years stint in the finance ministry. Much like his predecessor he impressed officials and reporters alike with his unbureaucratic attitude and pleasing personality.
Known for speaking his mind out, the new chief economic advisor to the finance minister got some advice from his media advisors on dealing with the press, which had turned up in large numbers to get exclusive interviews from the man acclaimed globally for predicting the 2008 financial crisis.
Rajan was the youngest chief economist at IMF.
A B.Tech from IIT Delhi, MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and Phd from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was most recently serving as the Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago.
He also served as Honorary Economic Advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and chaired a high level committee on financial sector reforms in India.