No one doubts that central bankers are the most conservative lot. Reserve Bank of India under Raghuram Rajan has gone a step ahead in being so much extra-cautious that it keeps doubting everything under the sun to delay the much-needed rate cut.
While there has been little doubt that inflation-hawk Raghuram Rajan has been unmindful of the growth imperatives, the question now is whether the RBI ignores even the low inflation numbers.
After the latest data showed consumer price index-based retail inflation at 6-year low of 6.5 per cent for September, the wholesale price index-based headline inflation at 5-year low of 2.38 percent.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been hawkish on policy rates for the past four years to contain inflation. The central bank has maintained tight monetary policy despite reservations from the elected representatives and the government. What's worse, the hawkish stance had little perceptible impact on the price rise, as the inflation remained stubbornly high.
Ever since Raghuram Rajan has taken reins at the Reserve Bank of India, media wasted no opportunity to hail him as a hero (an economist with rock star appeal, to be precise) and a vociferous inflation warrior. Indeed, Rajan has hiked rates three times between September 2013 and January 2014 by 25 bps each to take the inflation bull by the horn.
Wide fluctuations and sharp revisions in macro-economic data like GDP, industrial output and inflation raises questions over the credibility of these numbers. In the past couple of years there have been sharp and multiple revisions in economic growth, industrial output, foreign trade and inflation data. Moreover, a wide fluctuation in these data on month-on-month or quarter-on-quarter basis has dented the credibility.
It is often said that the two most important jobs in India, respectively, are that of two champions: the prime minister and the captain of the national cricket team (number one and two position depends on the individual and perception). Politics and cricket dominate the average Indians psyche.