It’s rare to see the publicly shy and less outspoken Urjit Patel, the Governor of India’s central bank, smile, let alone have a hearty laugh.
The sixth bi-monthly Monetary Policy on Wednesday changed the climax at the post policy press conference when Patel chortled as he witnessed the enthusiasm of nearly half a dozen query-loaded journalists raising hands to ask the last question of the day.
Usually, after making a statement announcing the policy decision, Patel calls out publications to take questions from making it a 15-20 minute affair.
Wednesday’s press conference last precisely 24 minutes and after about eight names which is the typical number of questions taken, Patel surprisingly enquired if any journalist wanted to voluntarily pose a question leading to almost six of them, including me, to raise hands.
This cracked up a lot of the media people, other RBI officials present there and above all the RBI head Dr Patel, who went through serious discussions in the two-day deliberation on policy rates
However, one of the journalists didn’t wait for the Governor to approve and obliged with the last query of the day.
Sure, Patel has a tough task to do, especially after the brickbats he received post the demonetisation and the pressure of meeting government demand to cut interest rates even while he has to control the insidious inflation closer to the target of 4 percent.
In the previous three monetary policy press conferences, including the latest one on Wednesday, the six-member Monetary Policy Committee headed by Patel, has left the key policy rate unchanged at 6 percent.
This may have caused the industry and government to frown upon for want of lower rates but RBI has thus far kept its sinewy stand intact.
An interest rate cut is always a cheer for many — government, individuals and corporates.
However, Wednesday’s Policy despite no rate cut, cheered Patel and indeed helped shed hiss serious Monetary Policy look to a happier Patel look.moneycontrol