Tolerance the best bet for growth, says Raghuram Rajan

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan on Saturday became the latest votary of tolerance and mutual respect.


Progress and growth are linked to the environment of tolerance and mutual respect, he said.

Addressing a convocation at IIT, Delhi, Rajan said excessive political correctness stifles progress. He said that protection of the right to question and challenge was essential for India to grow.

Rajan’s words come a day after international rating agency Moody’s Analytics cautioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India may lose domestic and global credibility if he doesn’t rein in his party members.

Mumbai-born music maestro Zubin Mehta, who is here for a concert, also joined the debate, speaking against the attacks on writers and artists who have returned awards and also criticised the attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of Observer Research Foundation, by the Shiv Sena in Mumbai on October 12.

He said India’s tradition of debate and open spirit of enquiry was critical for economic progress.

On whether ideas or behaviour that hurt a particular intellectual position or group be banned, he said: “Possibly, but a quick resort to bans will chill all debate as everyone will be anguished by ideas they dislike. It is far better to improve the environment for ideas through tolerance and mutual respect. He further said while the thuggish mischief makers are there in every group, tolerance and respect lead to a good equilibrium.”

On Friday, Moody’s had said that controversial comments from various ruling BJP members amidst the raging beef controversy were not helping the government.

“While PM Modi has largely distanced himself from the nationalist jibes, the belligerent provocation of various Indian minorities have raised ethnic tensions,” said Moody’s. It asked the government to deliver on the promised reforms to reach the growth potential.

Over the past few weeks, more than 40 writers, 12 film-makers and three scientists have returned awards to condemn the killing of writers and rationalists like MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar.

Some 53 historians, including Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib and KN Panikkar, in a joint statement, have expressed serious concerns over settling differences through physical violence.

“Arguments are met not with counter-arguments but with bullets,” the statement said, referring to the lynching of a man in Uttar Pradesh over rumours that he ate beef and the ink attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni in Mumbai.

A group of scientists have also petitioned the President to initiate suitable action against incidents of intolerance.