Who Will Replace Rajan at India’s RBI? A Not-So Short List

Raghuram Rajan.

Photographer: Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Raghuram Rajan’s term as governor of the Reserve Bank of India expires Sept. 4 and a replacement may be announced as early as this week. Who will Prime Minister Narendra Modi name as Rajan’s successor? Bloomberg News assembled the following non-definitive list of eight possible candidates based on discussions with RBI watchers and reports in local media. With Modi keeping his cards close, the chances of an unexpected name is of course very real. A ninth wildcard candidate was added for this purpose.

SUBIR GOKARN

Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Once one of the RBI’s youngest deputy governors in charge of monetary policy, Gokarn was also chief economist at S&P Global Ratings and is currently India’s envoy to the IMF
Age: 56
Education: Doctorate in Economics from Case Western Reserve University
Noteworthy: Nomura says he’d be inclined to balance between growth and inflation

URJIT PATEL

Photographer: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint/Getty Images

Currently the RBI’s deputy governor in charge of monetary policy, Patel has worked with Boston Consulting Group and Reliance Industries 
Age: 52
Education: Doctorate in Economics from Yale and M. Phil from Oxford
Noteworthy: A key architect of India’s inflation target and rate-setting panel, Nomura sees Patel as a hawk

ARUNDHATI BHATTACHARYA

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The first woman chair of the 207-year-old State Bank of India, Bhattacharya would also be the first woman to lead the 81-year old Reserve Bank of India
Age: 60
Education: Holding a master’s degree in literature from Jadavpur University in West Bengal, Bhattacharya had dreamed of becoming a museologist
Noteworthy: She’s spearheading a clean up of bad loans at state-run banks, which Rajan has said is essential to ensure sustainable growth

ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN

Photographer: Pradeep Gaur/Mint/Getty Images

Currently the top economic adviser to Modi, Subramanian is on leave from his post of senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics
Age: 57
Education: D.Phil, Oxford, with degrees in economics and management
Noteworthy: An advocate of looser monetary policy, Subramanian has suggested looking beyond benchmark consumer-price inflation and proposed dipping into the RBI’s emergency funds to recapitalize state-run banks

ARVIND PANAGARIYA

Photographer: Udit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg

Currently is vice chairman at a government policy research group headed by Modi
Age: 63
Education: Doctorate from Princeton and professor of economics and political economy at Columbia University
Noteworthy: Panagariya has advocated sharper interest-rate cuts and favors public spending

KAUSHIK BASU

Photographer: Lisi Niesner/Bloomberg

Outgoing chief economist at the World Bank, Basu has also been top economic adviser to the Indian government
Age: 64
Education: Doctorate from the London School of Economics 
Noteworthy: "Economics is not a moral subject," he wrote in his recent book An Economist in the Real World. In the past, Basu has proposed that governments only penalize bribe-takers to encourage bribe-givers to reveal corruption. Hobbies include reproving 2,600-year-old geometry theorems, as evidenced by a 2015 paper titled: A New and Very Long Proof of the Pythagoras Theorem By Way of a Proposition on Isosceles Triangles

ASHOK LAHIRI

Photographer: Pankaj Nangia/Bloomberg

Chairman of one of India’s youngest commercial banks and a former adviser to the Indian government
Age: 65
Education: Doctorate from the Delhi School of Economics
Noteworthy: Lahiri’s hobbies include psephology, according to his Twitter bio. Optimistic of Modi’s "deep-rooted" reforms, Lahiri has highlighted the need for the government to cut its stakes in state-owned banks to 33 percent

K.V. KAMATH

Photographer: Graham Crouch/Bloomberg

The first president of the so-called BRICS Bank, Kamath has worked at one of India’s top software companies and private banks
Age: 68
Education: He holds degrees in engineering and management
Noteworthy: He’s said India’s bad-debt problem is overblown as it doesn’t yet account for 10 percent of GDP

UNKNOWN

* Willingness to withstand criticism from a key Modi ally who accused Rajan of keeping interest rates too high and of being "mentally not fully Indian"
* Ability to rein in resurgent inflation and contain the fallout of a $120 billion bank bad-loan clean up without a return to regulatory forbearance
* Charming enough to win over foreign investors and grace newspaper spreads depicting him as James Bond

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