India’s former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has slammed the present government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for promoting a culture of divisiveness and punishing its critics. In a rare public post shared on his Linkedin page, Rajan wrote, “On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the father of the Indian nation, Mahatma Gandhi, I thought I would also recall another great Indian, Nani Palkhivala, whose birth centenary is approaching. At times like the present ones, we must remember that what makes India strong is its diversity, debate, and tolerance. What makes it weak is narrow mindedness, obscurantism, and divisiveness. I argue in this essay that what is true politically is equally true from an economic perspective.”
Rajan, who was denied a second term by the Modi government as the RBI Governor, wrote, “If every critic gets a phone call from a government functionary asking them to back off, or gets targeted by the ruling party’s troll army, many will tone down their criticism. The government will then live in a pleasant make-believe environment, until the harsh truth can no longer be denied.”
He went on to add, “Undoubtedly, some of the criticism, including in the press, is ill-informed, motivated, and descends into ad-hominem personal attacks. I have certainly had my share of those in past jobs. However, suppressing criticism is a sure-fire recipe for policy mistakes.”
This comes just days after the government removed Rathin Roy and Shamika Ravi from PM Modi’s Economic Advisory Council. Both of them have been critics of the government’s economic policies.
Rajan wrote, “We have our weaknesses and our excesses, but our democracy is self-correcting, and even while some institutions weaken, others come to the fore.”
Rajan said that an ‘attempt to impose a uniform majoritarian culture on everyone can kill minority community characteristics that can be very advantageous to growth and development.’ “Cultural diversity can promote intellectual diversity and intellectual ferment, something every economy at the frontier needs,” he added.
This is extraordinary criticism by Rajan for the Modi government since he’s a globally admired economist. His criticism has only given credence to allegations of vendetta politics being run against critics of the current government.