Friday, 8 December 2017

Government vs RBI: Deputy governor explains Kishore Kumar style

Government vs RBI: Deputy governor explains Kishore Kumar style

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NEW DELHI: Viral Acharya is RBI's (Reserve Bank of India) youngest deputy governor post- liberalisation. The 43 year-old is on a three-year leave from his job as a professor of Economics at NYU Stern (New York University Stern School of Business) to carry out his RBI assignment.

The IIT-Bombay alumnus' resume is studded with several achievements, but what you won't find there is the fact that during his B-school days in New York, he had started an Indian film music band called 'Surbahaar'.

Trained in Hindustani classical music, the singer and music aficionado in Acharya revealed itself on Thursday as he explained the relation between government and RBI, with the help of legendary musicial Kishore Kumar's songs.


Speaking at the launch of veteran journalist Tamal Bandyopadhyay's book 'From Lehman to Demonetization: A decade of disruptions, reforms and misadventures' , Acharya shared that he had "a few Kishore Kumar songs on how monetary policy decisions can be announced."


Asked about the "most memorable or exciting moment" during his 9-month stint at the RBI, he first took a dig at the "days when perhaps monetary policy was not explicitly mandated to target inflation" and RBI "did not have the formal independent process for it". He said the RBI Governor those days used to be like Rajesh Khanna singing 'Aap ke (finance minister) anurodh pe mai yeh rate ghatata hu' ( which roughly translates to 'At your request I am cutting the rate' ) . For the uninitiated, the reference is from the Khanna-starrer Anurodh, released in 1977, where the lead hero playing a singer, hums 'Aap ke anurodh pe main yeh geet sunata hu' (At your request, I present this song), as the title credits roll.

But, Acharya was not done yet. Speaking of "independent monetary policy framework" days, he sang (which initially he refused to do) a more popular number to elaborate the tension between the finance minister and central bank over tweaking policy rates. Breaking into the song, he said a governor today refuses to reduce repo rate singing,'Nahi nahi abhi nahi, thoda karo intezaar' (No,not yet, wait a bit). With Bandopadhyay and the audience in splits, Acharya delivered the final punch saying that the finance minister would come the next day with the next line of the song, 'Mai hu bekarar'( I am eager ) .


The government has been pushing the RBI to cut lending rate to boost private investments. The central bank though, is stoic because of inflationary pressure. While Acharya surely can marry the drab world of fiscal prudence with hit Hindi film songs with elan, the real task at hand would be to balance inflation and growth with equal ease.

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