Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said India requires a strong and independent central bank which needs to work in close cooperation with the government, in what seemed in sync with the Modi government view the government-RBI ties.
Singh, however, took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi by saying that (unlike Modi) he was not afraid to speak to the media.
Singh was speaking at a function where ‘Changing India’, a book penned by him that encapsulates his life as an economist and a policymaker since 1970s and sheds light on handling of the 1991 crisis as well as 10 years when he led the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, was unveiled.
“One has to respect the autonomy and independence of the Reserve Bank of India. At the same time I would say the relation between government and RBI is like husband-wife relationship. There will be hiccups,there will be difference of opinion, but ultimately these must be harmonised in a manner that these two great institutions can work in harmony. Whosoever is governor of RBI, I wish him well,” Singh said after the book launch.
After governor Urjit Patel stepped down recently following a tussle with the government on several issues, the Centre replaced Patel with former economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das.
On economy, Singh said India is one of the few countries that has grown at an average of about 7% in the last 25 years and it can better that.
“With determination, we converted the crisis of 1991 into a great opportunity,” he said, adding that headwinds to economy can be tackled.
“Not just was I an accidental Prime Minister, but also an accidental finance minister,” Singh said recounting how he was not the first choice of the then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao. Singh took repeated swipes at Modi without naming him.
“I was not the PM who was afraid of talking to the press. Met the press regularly, every f oreigntrip I undertook, had a press conference on the plane (or after arrival),” he added.