Career bureaucrat-turned-banker D Subbarao demits office on Wednesday after a 5-year stint as RBI Governor during a tumultuous period of global financial stress that has left rupee plumbing new depths, falling economic growth and high inflation.
While there were brickbats for his tight monetary policy that his critics called hawkish, there were any number of admirers for his stance they considered independent of the government, displaying the Central Bank's autonomy.
Within days of moving to Mint Street in Mumbai in September 2008 from the North Block where he was Finance Secretary, Duvvuri Subbarao plunged into a crisis situation with the emerging financial meltdown, the worst world had witnessed since the 'Great Depression' of 1930s.
India came out largely unscathed from it mainly because of the sound fundamentals of the banking system and strict supervision by the RBI. But what Subbarao will most be remembered for will be the tough monetary stand that he took during the last one and half years when inflation was rising on one hand and economic growth stumbling on the other.
Under his leadership, the RBI raised policy rates 13 times between March, 2010 and October, 2011, testing the government's patience. RBI's tough stance brought down wholesale inflation from double digits in 2010-11 to around 5 per cent now and core inflation declined to around 2 per cent.
Subbarao's unrelenting focus earned the ire of those in the government with Finance Minister P Chidambaram even remarking once that if the government has to walk the path of growth alone, it was prepared to do so.
Observers perceived the differences between the government and the RBI as not a healthy sign especially when the economy was under strain.
The soft-spoken and affable RBI Governor vented his feelings towards the end when he said the problem lay more with the government and domestic factors than with problems outside.
He even quoted a former German Chancellor to say that Chidambaram would one day say 'I am often frustrated by the Reserve Bank, so frustrated that I want to go for a walk, even if I have to walk alone. But thank God, the Reserve Bank exists.'