Narendra Modi swept to power in 2014 on the back of a promise to overhaul India’s economy, putting it firmly on the path to double-digit growth. He also had a team of top economists running the show: Arvind Subramanian, who was picked to be the Chief Economic Adviser, and, Arvind Panagariya, who was given charge of the NITI Aayog.
Both had distinguished themselves on the global stage, and broadly fit into a narrative that accompanied Modi in his first few years – that of Non-Resident Indians who gave up plush lives abroad to dedicate time and effort into rebuilding India.
Some of this began changing in 2016, as a campaign grew for the government to get rid of Raghuram Rajan, who was then governor of the Reserve Bank of India, another Indian economist who had made his name internationally before returning to take up a posting in the country.
Rajan was a vocal commentator on all sorts of issues, often taking a line different to that of the government, and many within Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party called for him to be sacked. It was suggested that his foreign credentials were a liability – proof that he was better suited to the elite West than genuine concerns in developing India. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy even said Rajan was party to a plot by the America’s Central Intelligence Agency, to ruin India.