I Do What I Do by Raghuram G. Rajan

“I Do What I Do” is a collection of former RBI Governor, Raghuraman Rajan’s speeches and articles. It is divided into three sections – the first and longest called RBI days consists of speeches during his tenure as RBI Governor from 2013 to 2016. The second part has his prescient predictions of the 2008 crisis – Rajan was one of the few global economists to have seen it coming – and from the period after the crash, suggesting possible ways to prevent the recurrence of similar systemic failures. The third part contains his articles covering other topics in economics.

I do what I doI’m glad someone sent this book on my way else I might have never picked it up, colored as I was by Dr Rajan’s out of brief comments on tolerance and his own departure from the RBI.

The book gives a fair perspective about the broad framework of how RBI works and plays a pivotal role in managing the Indian regulatory and economic landscape. The book gives you a great insight into how the mind of a central banker workers. It makes the case for inflation targeting in a rather compelling way, and its importance in delivering sustainable economic growth. The surprise element of the book were Dr Rajan’s speeches and articles on the international context wherein, to me, one of his key achievements was to firmly put on the table, the global challenges of the easy monetary policy followed by most developed countries in recent years.

The wide range of topics covered span recovery of loans, dosanomics, reform efforts within RBI, a beautiful definition for policy making, cynicism challenges faced by Indian banking institutes in general, and how the miasma can ebb in our society over time with effective actions that make up specifically over the course of the book in respective examples. Snippets of information on MSP with metaphors stick to the mind and add beauty to the content. The reader also gets a idea on the various efforts towards forcing the banks to recognize NPA’s and setting a framework for controlling inflation. Similarly, the articulation of the case for financial inclusion and the challenges involved in it are quite powerfully made.

The speeches were made partly with the objective of spreading financial and economic literacy. In this, Dr. Rajan, the economics professor, does a remarkable job. In each of his speeches or essays, he lays out the broad outline, explains the points in detail and concludes his points in a clear and logical manner. Even someone with only a basic knowledge of economics (like me) could follow his speeches because of the brilliant clarity of his writing. The book gives an idea of how he set RBI policy with great foresight and in spite of the various pressures he had to face.

Unfortunately, he faced a lot of unfair flak during his tenure. The government, unhappy with his outspokenness, indirectly put pressure on him by allowing him to be criticized by people with vested motives. These criticisms were picked up and amplified by the faithful followers of the party. Ultimately he was ousted as RBI governor – his term was not renewed though he was willing to serve another term – and RBI lost one of its most talented RBI Governors. I remember a few of my friends, not economists but faithful supporters of the government, who would confidently and emphatically express their views on the correct levels for the RBI policy rates. I think they would definitely benefit from reading this book. Highly recommended but needs a basic understanding of economics.

My limited knowledge of Economics made this a bit boring, particularly jargon wise. I am not sure how much did I actually understand, though I learned the amount of thought that goes into building an idea with actual national importance.

For those with an interest in macro-economics it’s a good read so long as you can give Dr Rajan some leeway for letting the professor in him take-over at times.

PS: I still can’t fathom why the book is called what it is.

My Rating : 4/5

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