If the financial crisis turned central bankers into rock stars, there is none bigger at the moment than India’s Raghuram Rajan. International investors say it is the reason they are willing to risk billions on India. At home, every speech is news, no matter how repetitive. He ranks with Bollywood actors, cricket players and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on lists of the country’s most admired people.
Rajan’s celebrity hasn’t shielded him from an attempt from within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to deny him a second term. His global fame may even have encouraged it. Subramanian Swamy, a firebrand who recently was appointed to represent the BJP in India’s upper house of parliament, has written to Modi twice in recent weeks to demand Rajan’s removal. Among his reasons: the leader of the Reserve Bank of India “mentally isn’t fully Indian,” an apparent dig at Rajan’s intention to eventually rejoin the faculty of the University of Chicago.
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