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Suppressing criticism is a sure fire recipe for policy mistakes, says Rajan

People in the authority, he emphasised, have to tolerate criticism

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Raghuram Rajan put in place a series  of actions to impose greater financial discipline on banks and forced them  to recognize stressed assets
Raghuram Rajan put in place a series of actions to impose greater financial discipline on banks and forced them to recognize stressed assets

Suppressing criticism is a "sure fire recipe" for policy mistakes, cautioned former RBI Governor in a hard-hitting blog arguing that people in authority should tolerate criticism.

Rajan also said it is only criticism that prompts government to take period policy course correction.

"If every critic gets a phone call from a government functionary asking them to back off, or gets targeted by the ruling party's troll army, many will tone down their criticism. The government will then live in a pleasant make-believe environment, until the harsh truth can no longer be denied," Rajan said while recalling the achievements of noted jurist and doyen of liberalism in India Nani Palkhivala.

People in the authority, he emphasised, have to tolerate criticism.

"Undoubtedly, some of the criticism, including in the press, is ill-informed, motivated, and descends into ad-hominem personal attacks. I have certainly had my share of those in past jobs. However, suppressing criticism is a sure fire recipe for policy mistakes," he said.

Rajan, who is currently a professor of finance at University of Chicago, said constant criticism allows period course correction to policy.

"Governments that suppress public criticism do themselves a gross disservice," he added.

Rajan's observations come in the backdrop of the Modi government removing Rathin Roy and Shamika Ravi from the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister as they were critical of the government's policies.

Shamika Ravi, the director of research at Brookings India, and Rathin Roy, the director of the Institute of Public Finance and Policy, had questioned the government's decision to borrow funds from overseas markets through sale of sovereign bonds.

Rajan, too, earlier cautioned the government about the consequences of raising funds through overseas sovereign bonds.

First Published: Mon, September 30 2019. 22:25 IST
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