Duvvuri Subbarao’s term as governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 2008 to 2013 was, by all accounts, an unusually turbulent period for the world and for India. The global financial crisis erupted within days of his assuming office. Then just as the impact of the crisis on India ebbed, the action shifted to combating a decade high, stubborn inflation during 2009-11, which segued into a battle against the sharp depreciation of the rupee starting mid 2012. Dr Subbarao’s lecture will focus on the challenges and dilemmas he confronted while leading the Reserve Bank through these extraordinary economic and political challenges.
Subbarao’s five years at the Reserve Bank also marked an intellectually vigorous period for central banking around the world. Not only did the global financial crisis test the policy force of central banks but it also raised several questions about the tools of their trade, their forays into communication, the limits of their autonomy and the limitations of the manner in which they render accountability. Much of the debate surrounding these issues has been set in the advanced economy context. The lecture will reflect of these issues and debates from an Indian and emerging-market perspective.
Public policy rarely, if ever, offers a binary choice. Decisions have necessarily to span a wide spectrum of gray territory, and require a combination of judgement, conviction and perseverance. An uncertain environment makes the challenge of leadership in public policy making even more compelling.