Pune : Warning against being “euphoric” about India being the fastest-growing economy, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Wednesday sought to put within context his “one-eyed king” remarks about India’s growth and said the country has a long way to go before it claims to have arrived. (Rajan, in remarks to a foreign publication last week, had likened India’s fastest-growing economy to a one-eyed man who was king in the land of the blind.)
Rajan was less eloquent on Wednesday and said: “As a central banker who has to be pragmatic, I cannot get euphoric if India is the fastest growing large economy.”
Seeking to explain his ‘one-eyed king’ comments, Rajan said his comments were “hung out to dry out of context” and even offered an apology to the visually-impaired for hurting them by the use of the proverb. Stating that the per capita income of Indians remains the lowest among the BRICS nations, Rajan said, “We have a long way to go before we can claim we have arrived. We need to repeat this performance (economic growth) for 20 years before we can give each Indian a decent livelihood.”
He also said India’s global reputation holds great promise, but is seen as a country that has under-delivered and that it should “implement, implement, and implement” the structural reforms.
He was speaking at the convocation of the National Institute of Bank Management; making a reference to his last week’s interview, Rajan said his comments were interpreted as having denigrated the country’s success rather than emphasising on the need to do more.
“… Every word or phrase that a public figure speaks is intensely wrung out of meaning. When words are hung out to dry out of context, as in the newspaper headline, it becomes a fair game for anyone who wants to fill in, meaning to create mischief,” he said.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had rebutted Rajan’s remarks saying compared with the rest of the world, the Indian economy is growing much faster and, in fact, was the fastest. Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, too, had not taken Rajan’s remarks lightly, saying better words should have been used.
Rajan on Wednesday said commonly used words or proverbs can “most easily and deliberately be misinterpreted”. “If we are to have a reasonable public dialogue, we should read words in their context, not stripped of it,” he said.