Title: I Do What I Do
Author: Raghuram G Rajan
Price: Rs 699
Dr Raghuram G Rajan needs no introduction. Apart from being the ‘Rockstar’ governor of RBI from 2013-16, he can boast of exceptionally illustrious academics, being the Chief Economist at IMF, a professor at the University of Chicago and recently said to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Economics.
After maintaining a stoic silence for about a year post his retirement from RBI, his latest book offering “I Do What I Do” brings an insight of knowledge from a renowned economist. His previous two award winning titles ‘Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists’ and ‘Fault Lines’ add gravitas to his writing abilities and dispensing knowledge.
The book offers a compendium of his speeches and archival columns in the course of his career. Although, this is no coffee table book, it’s a treasure trove of knowledge for an ardent follower of economics and politics. Dr Rajan tries to remove the complexities associated with Economic theories and presents his ideas in an unembellished prose devoid of complex jargons. The book also offers simple nuggets of opinions and suggestions supplemented by equally interesting analogies.
Upon helming the chief position at RBI, Dr Rajan was faced with a plethora of challenges and priorities being channelled towards taming inflation, stabilising the currency, restoring the confidence in the RBI by bringing about higher transparency and accountability. The focus turned towards changing our economy from being perceived as ‘the fragile five’ to striving towards a ‘developed’ status. The Dosanomics analogy reinstates the importance of targeting the CPI instead of the WPI, as a means of barometer for gauging the real impact of inflation to curb the spiralling prices.
The importance of a healthy competition for a level playing field is further emphasised to face the challenges amongst the PSU banks and from the private banks. Introducing and embracing technology as a pillar of strategy takes importance from a global standpoint. He further discusses the importance of Mobile Banking, need for Payments bank, the introduction of UPI and AADHAR enabled interface as a medium of payment. There is further discussion about the PM Jan Dhan Yojna and the Mudra Scheme (small loans) and the need for Udyog Aadhar Numbers for SMEs.
Post the taper tantrums experienced by our economy, the importance of Debt markets find a special mention. Legislating the Debt markets for a transparent functioning brings about discussions on the New Bankruptcy Code, the newly introduced SAEFAESI, the role of DRT with an intention to improve liquidity in the debt markets via active participation. The need for strengthening consumer protection finds a special mention by introducing a Charter of Consumer Rights.
Our PSUs have long been riddled by NPAs. Loan distress has had a substantial impact on the banking industry. This speech talks about the beleaguered PSUs and their strife with the large borrowers and bad debts. The measures for identifying bad fundamentals and introducing a loan database, bringing about a strategic debt restructuring to displace errant promoters by converting debt to equity, introducing Asset Quality Review find a mention in this speech.
The next speech delves into a few economics principles like Fukuyama’s Three Pillars of Liberal Democratic state which eschews the importance of a presence of free market economy by introducing strong governance, the rule of law and democratic accountability, with examples of economies existing in Germany, China and Western Europe. The ‘Make in India’ initiative finds mention of the current government’s policy to boost domestic demand and growth.
A special mention for his speech on Tolerance to the IIT Delhi students finds importance as it was widely misinterpreted and construed as an act towards the ‘Intolerance’ movement against the ruling government. A closer perusal leads to the conclusion how tolerance and debate can foster free competition and encourage free exchange of ideas. A reference to misrepresentation on the Social media finds mention with respect to distortion of facts and how the intent should matter over the words.
A speech covering international issues with mentions of Federal Bank rate policies, focus on unconventional monetary policies like quantitative easing, troubled assets relief programs, decoupling theories make itan interesting read.
The book concludes with a miscellany of white papers written as a columnist on a vast array of topics like Incentives for Investment Managers, Asset Management and Political Risks, Credit Crisis, Lessons from the Great Recession, although the last two topics find a comprehensive insightful analysis in his book, Fault Lines.
To conclude, although the book will find immense interest from students of economics, Dr Rajan’s superstar persona during his stint as the governor should entice enough curiosity amongst the educated masses to make an attempt at understanding the various concepts related to Economics and Politics.