Raghuram Rajan roped in by IMF for advisory group, offers to assist India

Rajan said he was willing to help India if his assistance was sought to deal with the economic stress following the COVID-19 pandemic

Raghuram Rajan, who was the RBI governor for three years until September 2016, is currently working as a professor at the University of Chicago. File photo: PTI

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Friday (April 10) named former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan and 11 others to her external advisory group to provide perspectives from around the globe on key developments and policy issues, including responses to the exceptional challenges the world now faces due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rajan, 57, who was the RBI governor for three years until September 2016, is currently working as a professor at the University of Chicago.

Georgieva said that even before the spread of COVID-19 and the dramatic health, economic and financial disruptions it has brought, IMF members confronted a rapidly evolving world and complex policy issues.

“To serve our membership well in this context, we need top-notch input and expertise from the widest range of sources, inside and outside the Fund,” she said.

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“Toward this end, I am proud that an exceptional and diverse group of eminent individuals with high-level policy, market and private sector experience has agreed to serve on my External Advisory Group. Today we had a dynamic discussion to gain their insights, and to receive informal reactions to our ideas and approaches,” the IMF Managing Director said.

Other members of the group are Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of Singapore and Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore; Kristin Forbes, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia; Lord Mark Malloch Brown, former UN deputy secretary-general among others.

Meanwhile, Rajan also said he was willing to help India if his assistance was sought to deal with the economic stress that has ensued following the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked whether he would return to India if asked for his assistance in economic issues, he told NDTV, “The answer is a straightforward yes.”

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“The first sign of difficulty in India is often in foreign exchange. So far, compared to other emerging markets, our exchange rate has stayed quite stable, presumably due to some support from the RBI. I should say we have depreciated some against the dollar, but you know countries like Brazil have gone down by 25 per cent. We haven’t been in that situation,” he told NDTV.

Rajan’s nod to help the Indian government if asked was slightly unexpected since he and the central government were at loggerheads earlier due to differences in opinion regarding demonetisation and other issues.

The former RBI governor further said the world is “almost surely in a deep recession”.

“Hopefully, we will see a rebound next year, and it depends on measures we take to prevent a recurrence (of the pandemic),” NDTV quoted Rajan as saying.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 96,000 people and infected over 1,605,000 in 193 countries and territories since it first emerged in China in December.

(With inputs from agencies)

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