Meet "The Guv": India's new central bank chief gets rock star welcome

Thu Sep 5, 2013 5:29am EDT
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By Ross Colvin

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Less than 24 hours in the job and he has already been dubbed "The Guv" by a gushing Indian media and portrayed as a suave James Bond-like figure coming to the rescue of the country's crashing currency.

With the ink of his signature still drying on the oath that made him the 23rd governor of India's central bank on Wednesday, Raghuram Rajan, stunned investors by announcing a raft of measures aimed at shoring up the beleaguered rupee. His statement triggered a rally in the rupee and a surge in shares.

After weeks of reporting bad news on India's economic slowdown and tumbling currency, media breathlessly cheered the 50-year-old University of Chicago economist, giving him coverage normally reserved for Bollywood A-listers.

The "Name's Rajan, Game's Bond," punned India's leading business daily, the Economic Times, with a photo-edited picture on its front page of Rajan in an action pose and brandishing the fictional British spy's trademark Beretta pistol, albeit one made of rupee notes.

"Brilliant and bold. That's the takeaway from the first day first show of Raghuram Rajan," wrote Raghuvir Srinivasan, business editor of the Hindu, a leading English-language newspaper.

The enthusiastic welcome extended beyond the media.

"The statement is impressive and a must-read," Deutsche Bank Research said of Rajan's reform plan, calling him a "breath of fresh air".

Rajan is a respected international economist and best known for his prescient warning in 2005 about a possible global financial crisis.   Continued...

Raghuram Rajan, newly appointed governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), arrives for a news conference at the bank's headquarters in Mumbai September 4, 2013. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui