Role of serendipity and Raghuram Rajan’s journey to Mint Street
Mumbai – He took over as governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) barely six months ago, but Dr Raghuram Rajan confessed on Tuesday that he had expressed his desire to head the central bank decades ago while studying at his alma mater, IIM-Ahmedabad.
Speaking at an event organised by IIM-Ahmedabad , Dr Rajan said while studying at the institution, he had made up his mind to head the central bank one day.
“I was asked at Ahmedabad, if you think about a career choice, what will you become? I have a confession to make here. I said ‘I want to be the governor of RBI’,” Dr Rajan said at the event.
The 51-year-old ex-IMF chief economist, who studied at IIM-Ahmedabad in late 1980s, outlined how some fortuitous events helped shape his life. One of them was getting admitted to the PhD programme at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.
The first act of serendipity, according to Dr Rajan, was when he applied to MIT, which refused to accept him into PhD programme, He wrote back saying, “I am a poor Indian citizen…there is no way I can pay for the PhD. I would like to come but…”
To his pleasant surprise, Dr Rajan received a letter from MIT a few weeks later, saying there is a scholarship programme and the institute would like to consider him.
The RBI chief also said his joining the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and coming back to India as Chief Economic Advisor at the Finance Ministry in 2012 had also a fair role of “serendipity”.
He said career progression is not a linear path and one should follow his heart and enjoy the journey rather than only aiming to achieve his goal.
During his interaction at the event, Dr Rajan also answered a question on corruption. He noted that corruption is a complex problem, which is an outcome of a host of factors.
In an apparent reference to Aam Aadmi Party, which has made anti-corruption its core philosophy, Dr Rajan said, “There seems to be belief on the good man’s theory…all you need is to put a good man in that place (and everything will be fine).
“I think, recent events have suggested that this is little difficult. Clearly, corruption is the result of many complex forces coming together,” Dr Rajan said.