Change of guard at RBI: Urjit Patel’s tenure begins


In a low-key affair, Urjit Patel has begun his innings as Reserve Bank’s new Governor with a private off-media ‘handover’ ceremony on Tuesday — a marked departure from his predecessor Raghuram Rajan announcing big-bang reforms on his first day itself three years ago.

Traditionally, the handover of charge by the outgoing Governor to the new head of the central bank has been a public affair and had taken place in the past in front of media cameras and this was also the case when Rajan had taken over from his predecessor D Subbarao.

In contrast, Patel officially assumed charge with effect from 4 September — a Sunday — itself, which was made public by RBI through a statement a day later.

However, the ‘handover’ took place on Tuesday, the first working day, because of ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ holiday on Monday.

An RBI spokesperson said the photographs of the official ceremony of Patel assuming office would be released later in the day by the central bank. There was no word on whether or when Patel would be talking to media about his priorities and plan of action as head of Mint Street.

After assuming office on 4 September, 2013, Rajan had held a press conference lasting more than an hour during which he announced his detailed action plan.

Some commentators have already said that Patel ‘quietly’ assuming office could be a signal for the things to come at RBI, after the end of tenure for an outspoken Rajan at the helms, who was always vocal with his views on all issues — economic, social and political — and always pitched for greater communication on part of the central bank.

On his first day, Rajan had said he would emphasise on transparency and predictability.

“A central bank should never say ‘Never’! But the public should have a clear framework as to where we are going, and understand how our policy actions fit into that framework. Key to all this is communication, and I want to underscore communication with this statement on my first day in office,” Rajan had told mediapersons on the first day.

Patel has taken over the charge from Rajan after serving as deputy governor of RBI since January 2013.

He was reappointed as deputy governor on January 2016.

Among his assignments, Patel chaired the Expert Committee to Revise and Strengthen the Monetary Policy Framework.

He has also served at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Patel was on deputation from the IMF to RBI during 1996-1997, and in that capacity he provided advice on development of the debt market, banking reforms, pension reforms, and evolution of the foreign exchange market.

He was a Consultant to the Ministry of Finance from 1998 to 2001. He also had other assignments in public and private sectors, including with Reliance Industries, IDFC Ltd, MCX Ltd and Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation.

Dr Patel, as he is commonly referred to as, has worked closely with several central and state government high level committees. These include the Task Force on Direct Taxes, the High Level Expert Group for Reviewing the Civil & Defence Services Pension System, the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Infrastructure, the Group of Ministers on Telecom Matters, the Committee on Civil Aviation Reforms and the Ministry of Power’s Expert Group on State Electricity Boards.

He has several publications in areas of Indian macroeconomics, monetary policy, public finance, financial sector, international trade, and regulatory economics, the RBI said.

Patel has a PhD in economics from Yale University, an M Phil from University of Oxford and a BSc from the University of London.

(With PTI inputs)