Iconic acts sway sentiments; we must calm down: Raghuram Rajan

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan

As the issue of ‘intolerance’ continues to dominate the national debate, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Thursday said India has been known for its “legacy of tolerance and openness” and it was necessary to preserve what is vital for this country.

Days after stating that tolerance and mutual respect were necessary to improve the environment for ideas and physical harm or verbal contempt for any particular group should not be allowed, Rajan said, “The issue is what you do about it.”

The RBI chief said the advice from the senior members of the government to fringe elements has been to calm down, but “we need to keep saying it”.

“Certainly, I think that is an appropriate advice. Across the spectrum, we should calm down because I think that reflects… our history and our legacy of tolerance and openness,” he added.

Speaking during a televised discussion with Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian on NDTV news channel, Rajan also said that sentiments are swayed by the ‘iconic acts and actions’ and at times it may not reflect the “larger reality”.

Rajan said the government and the policymakers need to ensure that the extremes do not “hijack much more moderate and existing” voices.

“Both of us are sympathetic that it is a very difficult situation. Even for both of us – the government and RBI.

“I think we live in a world of 24X7 press and so the press picks up something and press does not pick up other things. I think there have been fair number of voices recently from the government which have been articulating this. The Environment Minister talked about having said this way back but it wasn’t picked up,” the RBI chief said.

“It is important for all of us to keep saying this. We can not say it enough and if keep saying this and keep the fringes out on every front, I think we will preserve what is vital to preserve in this country…

“They certainly have said it. I have said it. Others have said it. we have to just keep saying it (and) drown out the other voices,” he said while referring to the hardliner voices whose comments are said to have kicked up a debate on tolerance in the country including on the eating habits.