India: Meet The New Gov, Same As The Old Gov

Raghuram Rajan's departureas head of the Reserve Bank of India to return to teaching at theUniversity of Chicago, made some Indians fear upheaval, but with his deputy taking the helm, stability is expected.

In June, when Raghuram Rajan announced he would leave his position as the head of the Reserve Bank of India and return to academia (he had been on leave from the University of Chicago), India watchers feared the worst.

Although ultra-right-wing critics such as Subramanian Swamy openly rejoiced, industrialists worried that Rajan’s replacement at the helm of India’s central bank would undo much of the gains the economy had made under his stewardship.

In his resignation note, Rajan, who earned an “A” grade last year in Global Finance’s annual Central Banker Report Cards, described some of the major initiatives from his three years leading RBI: establishing an inflation-focused framework, cutting 150 basis points from the interest rate, improving the balance sheets of banks through the Asset Quality Review, reforming state-run bank management appointments and restructuring the RBI.

With Rajan’s deputy, Urjit Patel, now set to take the reins, there’s a growing calm, born of consensus about the new regime: “We believe the RBI’s approach to inflation and setting of interest rates [under Patel] will not be very different from that under Governor Rajan,” said J.P Morgan economists in a recent note, “particularly now that the framework has been largely institutionalized.”

Patel, who obtained a doctorate in economics from Yale University in 1990, worked at the International Monetary Fund’s India desk between 1991 and 1994 before moving to India.