New Delhi: The Centre appointed former economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das as the 25th RBI governor on Tuesday, a day after Urjit Patel resigned from the top post citing personal reasons. Das, a member of the Finance Commission, was the government’s representative at the G20 summit.
Das was handpicked by the Modi government as revenue secretary in June 2014.
A retired 1980 batch IAS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, he was responsible for Tamil Nadu’s successful SEZs and industrial policy. He was also the force behind conceptualising and execution of GST, where he lobbied with industrialists and state governments.
In October 2015, Das was nominated to the Central Board of Directors of the RBI and became the main communicator between the government and the central bank. In 2016, he was again shifted to the Department of Economic Affairs, where he spearheaded the controversial demonetisation drive.
Most of the public statements on demonetisation had been made by him and he faced all the difficult questions during that period, which established that the government was at the forefront of the note ban drive instead of the RBI.
“During demonetisation, he was perhaps the most influential bureaucrat. He is a go-getter and as he has worked closely with the RBI and industry, he knows all sides well,” a senior finance ministry official told TNIE.
Apart from Das, the names of Subhash Chandra Garg and Rajiv Kumar and Ashok Lahiri were also doing the rounds for the RBI top post. However, the government chose a bureaucrat instead of a career economist in view of bitterer past experiences.
The government had its share of uneasiness with former RBI governors Raghuram Rajan and Urjit Patel, former Niti Aayog chief Arvind Panagariya and former chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian.
The appointment of Das will make things better and easier for the government to deal with RBI.
Meanwhile, economist Surjit Bhalla on Tuesday made public his resignation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic advisory council (PMEAC). “I resigned as part-time member PMEAC on December 1st; also look for my book Citizen Raj: Indian Elections 1952-2019,” Bhalla tweeted on Tuesday morning. His resignation has been accepted by the Prime Minister.
‘It is a sentiment booster’
The industry has reacted positively to Das’ appointment. “The quick appointment of the new RBI Governor has come as a huge sentiment booster to the industry.
The announcement enables a smooth transition process and ensures that stability will be maintained.
The government, in selecting an experienced economic expert, has avoided disruption and imparted huge confidence to investors and industry,” CII president Rakesh Bharti Mittal said.