When this author read tweets about “distinguished” economist and former Governor of Reserve Bank of India Raghuram Rajan defending and justifying the Rs 350 crore stash of cash found in properties belonging to Congress Rajya Sabha MP Dheeraj Sahu, he took it with a generous pinch of salt.
After all, these are polarised times and both disinformation and false propaganda are tools used by warring ideological & political opponents to discredit and belittle the other. But wait. I was scrolling through posts on X (Twitter) and stumbled upon the actual interview of Rajan conducted by journalist Sanket Upadhyay.
Sanket is a former NDTV journalist who like dozens of other “liberal & secular” journalists runs a YouTube channel. If you believe the liberals, the “fascist, intolerant and authoritarian” Narendra Modi government has so effectively defanged and emasculated mainstream media that these conscience keepers and gatekeepers of the Idea of India have no choice but to use You Tube channels and digital platforms to “speak truth to power”. Good for them.
But coming back to Raghuram Rajan, I actually watched the interview conducted by Sanket and was completely gob smacked. In terms of absurd analogies, the justification offered by Rajan on behalf of Dheeraj Sahu was akin to the late Mulayam Singh Yadav opposing death penalty for gang rapists saying “they are boys and sometimes boys make mistakes”.
Actually, a more apt analogy would be some demented politician saying a ape victim wore provocative clothes so the rapist had no choice but to…In case you have time, do watch the You Tube interview of Raghuram Rajan. The gist of the fantastic things he said during that interview is: parties need a lot of funds to fight elections.
Now when donors give money to opposition parties like the Congress, they are threatened and intimidated by the Narendra Modi regime which anyway misuses agencies and institutions like the Income Tax department, Enforcement Directorate & the CBI. So what do donors do?
They donate money to the BJP by “cheque” which is white money but are forced to donate funds to the Congress in cash. So Dheeraj Sahu is not to be blamed for stashing more than Rs 350 crores in cash. The blame lies with the Modi regime that has made electoral contests an unfair and unequal one. Presto: Modi is a proto-fascist.
Seriously, can you imagine this fellow was the RBI governor and the Chief Economic Advisor of the Finance Ministry before that? I am beginning to understand how, despite stating well, the UPA regime devastated the Indian economy between 2004 and 2014. That the Congress “ecosystem” that Modi described as Khan Market gang is still alive and kicking is an oriental mystery that baffles me. Or do these gentlemen & ladies think Indian voters are illiterate, ignorant and dumb fools? Actually, many “liberals” have labelled voters of Hindi heartland states as such.
Raghuram Rajan has been active in peddling whatever the ecosystem wants as a narrative. When the government launched the PLI scheme some years ago to incentivise domestic manufacturing in some key sectors and industries, Rajan dismissed the policy as a failed one even before anyone could evaluate its performance.
When domestic manufacturing of mobile phones stated skyrocketing, Rajan insisted that the whole thing was a sham exercise as India was merely assembling imported components and not really” adding any value”. In simple economics, adding value means manufacturing as much as possible of a product-including components-domestically. Now, an economist like Rajan knows that it takes a decade and more manufacturing supply chains to take root.
Yet, he scoffs. In 2021-22, India exported mobile phones worth s 90,000 crores; the figure doubled to Rs 90,000 crores in 2022-23 and will surpass Rs 1,30,000 crores this year. Is that a sham exercise? I purchased my I Phone 15 in September this year and was happy to see the Made in India label. But I am no Modi Bhakt so I know the value addition within India for the 15 series would be barely 25%. But that’s better than zero, isn’t it? It would be worthwhile recalling another gem or masterpiece of a forecast about India delivered by Rajan.
Like many “liberals”, he joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi for a while and discussed the Indian economy with the putative rival of Narendra Modi. In that conversation, he waxed eloquent about “global headwinds” and told Rahul that India would be “lucky” to register a GDP growth rate of even 5%. The actual growth rate was a fabulous 7.2% and analysts think a 7% growth rate is possible even this year. What makes otherwise brilliant and smart people to make such glaringly stupid mistakes?
There is no doubt they are smart. Many are brilliant. But they also belong to a “mindset” club called the Khan Market gang. For members of this gang, Modi is such an evil ogre that praising any achievement of India in his regime is a cardinal sin. So the circus continues to amuse ordinary Indians like me!
(Author has been a media professional for over 3 decades. He is now Executive Director, C Voter Foundation. Views are Personal)